Supplement Feature - April 2011
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Mix and Match

When Outfitting Your Park, Context Matters

By Emily Tipping

When it comes to furnishing your site—from selecting the types of furnishings you will include to choosing the best designs for your location—there is no right or wrong. As you make those decisions, the most important thing to remember is context—the context of the environment and community in which the park sits.

Obviously there are basics that will be found in nearly every park site: benches to sit on, picnic tables to gather around, trash and recycling receptacles to keep the place clean. But in addition, each unique site carries its own requirements.

Welcome Signs

At the entry to your park, you'll want to include standard amenities like a bench where patrons can rest or wait for a ride, and a garbage/recycling receptacle so they're sure to remember to clean up after themselves on the way out.

In addition, this may be a good spot for bollards, to keep cars from driving where they're not allowed, and to protect pedestrians and cyclists.

A kiosk and message board here can help visitors find out about upcoming events or unique conditions in the park. For example, you can inform patrons about the festivities planned for the Fourth of July, as well as letting them know about any park rules and regulations.

Sometimes, your locality will also dictate the information you want to provide. At a forest preserve in DuPage County, Ill., for example, a kiosk near the entrance educates patrons on preventing tick bites in the summer, while informing them of trail etiquette for hikers and cross-country skiers in the winter.

Lights near the entrance will also be welcome, especially for parks that are open past sundown. Centralized lighting in this area tells people where they need to go to exit, as well as letting those picking up children or friends where they can find the main egress point.