How important is measuring park use for urban planners? Should it be of concern to planners when a neighborhood park is empty or underutilized? I live next to Jaycee Park, a park that is exploding with noise daily. This recently renovated park proves the importance of parks as essential for community building.
When parks cater to the surrounding residents, use increases, as I can tell when I look out my window, over to Jaycee Park. Increased park use brings neighbors together and can catalyze sustainability because it’s easier to implement change in a community when the residents are united.
The rising popularity of technology has unsurprisingly drawn children away from parks, and in front of the TV, i-gadgets, or computers. So how do we make all parks in Tempe as busy as the previously mentioned Jaycee Park?
The solution begins with Tempe planners and city officials analyzing neighborhoods around parks in order to redesign or improve the park according to the surrounding demographics. A study shows that significantly more Hispanic children are more likely to go to parks. Further, the study describes how other demographic variables affect neighborhood park use. This information can be used to pinpoint locations within Tempe where demographics suggest that a park may be needed or in need of improvement.
Other suggestions include:
- Innovative unstandardized park and landscape design;
- Grassroots planning to increase perceived sense of safety in communities;
- Increasing structured programs available for children and others;
- Branding parks so that community members have a sense of ownership;
- Incorporating public art and inspirational landscape architecture to draw people and foster creativity and imagination.
Effective park use and design should be a main concern for planners and landscape architects as an opportunity to strengthen communities in Tempe. Age, race, and gender are all variables that need to be looked at on a case-by-case basis by Urban Design or Landscape Architecture professionals implementing a new park or improving an existing one. All they need to do is find the parks that lack activity.
Credits: Image and data linked to sources.