Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

April 2020

NRPA Releases Resource for Creating Equity-Based System Master Plans

By Chandler Garland

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) has unveiled "Creating Equity-Based System Master Plans" as a new online tool to help park and recreation agencies create action-oriented plans grounded in equity. The tool seeks to ensure just and fair access to quality parks, green space, recreation facilities and programs for all.

"Park and recreation professionals and the work they do to plan for equitable parks and facilities are key to healthier and more connected communities," said Kristine Stratton, NRPA president and CEO. "This new resource helps park and recreation professionals understand the history and current barriers to park access in their communities, while creating a plan to reduce inequities and provide the most benefit to their communities."

A system-wide park master plan is a comprehensive document and process, including an internal assessment, community engagement, resources and data collection, and development of an implementation plan. Park and recreation master plans guide the future growth and development of parks and facilities. When these plans are grounded in community engagement, equity and inclusion, they drive greater improvements in community health and well-being and help communities better recover from environmental, social and economic challenges.

Park and recreation professionals will use the tool to develop a comprehensive document—or add to an existing document—outlining future development by using the following four steps in Creating Equity-Based System Master Plans:

  1. Internal Assessment: Before starting planning process, agencies will lay the foundation for their vision and mission, then assess their capacity to work with the community, elected officials and others throughout the plan.
  2. Community Engagement: Working with the community in all aspects of the master plan process will ensure that the community has a voice and decision-making power in data collection, analysis, implementation plan and execution.
  3. Resources and Data Collection: Agencies will conduct data collection and analysis to prioritize resource allocation based on level of need for both park access as well as outcomes associated with park access such as physical activity and climate resiliency.
  4. Implementation: Create a realistic action plan based on needs identified, and current and future resource, partnership and funding scenarios. If there are anticipated gaps in funding, agencies will outline a plan to close the gap and how they will prioritize resources in the short term.

The open-access, online tool takes users through creating a mission and vision; conducting ongoing community engagement; collecting and analyzing metrics and outcome indicators; and developing a realistic implementation plan based on various resources, partnerships and funding scenarios.

NRPA's new resource also helps park and recreation professionals bring to life the many benefits of investing in parks and recreation such as:

  • Improving the overall health and wellness of communities.
  • Boosting economic development, visitor spending and new job creation.
  • Ensuring connectivity of trails and open space that supports active transportation.
  • Addressing the effects of climate change.

To learn more about Creating Equity-Based System Master Plans, visit:

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