Feature Article - July 2010
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Try That on for Size

Small Communities Take On Big Recreation Amenities

By Jessica Royer Ocken

Develop Your Goals

After getting input from your community, refine the raw data into a workable, realistic plan.

"There's no one size fits all," Rogers said.

So, it's important to understand your needs.

When the New Canaan YMCA in New Canaan, Conn., began a renovation and expansion project, Rogers and his firm were brought in early.

"They had decided what they wanted or thought they needed programmatically," Rogers recalled, adding that the YMCA wanted expanded studio and educational space, but hadn't decided specifically on square footage or what types of spaces. "We helped refine those definitions and turn them into a quantitative program that could be the basis for an architectural design."

And although you might have a firm sense of your shortcomings and needs, consider, too, what hasn't even caught on in your community yet. YMCAs—and presumably other types of sports and fitness facilities, too—have a tendency to define their "future needs in terms of present programs," Rogers explained.

But, it's important to look beyond that as you set goals. Consult with other facilities in different areas and see what's working for them, he suggested. Or check in with professional associations and organizations to get the latest news on recreation innovations.

Curry confirmed the importance of professional input for the Forney park project. Because Forney is a small town with a small parks department, Curry knew he'd be managing the project. And, he didn't want to be managing the construction site as well.

So, Forney chose Schrickel, Rollins and Associates, a well-known design and landscape architecture firm, based in Arlington, Texas, and a contractor who specializes in parks, to help.

Curry highly recommended having a firm grasp on your vision going in, because even though they're pros, "they're still a new group of people," he explained. "They'll have their own ideas. Some are good, and some won't make sense to you. So, the more detail you can give them, the more likely you are to have a successful process."