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Section 6. Improving Parks and Other Community Facilities

What do we mean by improving parks and other community facilities?

___A community facility is a physical feature provided – either by the municipality as a public service, or by a private entity – in the community for the benefit of community members

___Improving community facilities comes down to determining what the community needs and wants, and working to provide those facilities that will enhance the quality of life – socially, intellectually, culturally, economically, politically, and psychologically – for everyone

___Examples of community facilities include:

  • Parks
  • Libraries
  • Theaters, both stage and cinema
  • Museums
  • Auditoriums and concert venues
  • Hospitals and other health providers, both public and private
  • Educational facilities (schools, colleges, etc.)
  • Churches, synagogues, mosques, and other religious entities
  • Local, state, and federal government offices meant to serve the public
  • Public and other sports and recreation facilities
  • Recycling facilities
  • Community gardens
  • Community art centers
  • Child care facilities
  • Playgrounds
  • Transportation

Why improve parks and other community facilities?

___Good facilities contribute to the general quality of life in the community

___Good facilities provide exposure to and opportunities for a wide variety of intellectual, cultural, and physical activities

___Good facilities can instill a sense of ownership and community pride in residents

___Good facilities can provide services that help everyone

___Good facilities can help prevent crime and other dangerous behavior

___Good facilities can increase the level of fairness and equity in a community

___Good facilities can help to attract new residents

___Good facilities can improve the economic climate and prospects of the community, by attracting business and tourism

___Good facilities can make the community more attractive physically

___Good facilities can provide gathering places that improve the social character of community life

When should you try to improve parks and other community facilities?

___When there is a community need and facilities are simply lacking

___When facilities are in bad shape or inadequate

___When there’s a community development initiative under way

___When there’s money available – from grants or private sources – that can be used for it

___When the community, or at least a group of residents, is ready to take on the task

___When there’s a possibility of acquiring a piece of land or a building for community use

___When a major development is in the planning or early execution stage

___When there’s a possibility of historic preservation

Improving parks and other community facilities should be a participatory process, involving as many stakeholder groups as possible:

___Potential users of the facility

___Community leaders

___Public officials

___Architects, designers, engineers, developers, and planners

___Community based organizations

___Community foundations

___Community activists

How do you improve parks and other community facilities?

___Assess community assets and needs

___Assemble a participatory planning team representing the interests of all stakeholders

___Design the best facility possible, according to the results of your assessment and planning, the available resources, and the guidelines for creating a good community facility

___Guidelines for good community facilities:

  • Facilities should meet the needs of the community
  • Facilities should involve the community in all aspects of their planning and development
  • Facilities should take advantage of the assets and culture of the community
  • Facilities should be designed to be as beautiful, exciting, and functional as they can be, rather than merely adequate, regardless of the resources available
  • Facilities should be accessible and welcoming
  • Facilities should be healthy and safe
  • Facilities should be clean and well maintained
  • Facilities should be marketed to potential users
  • Facilities should be as flexible as possible
  • Facilities should be sustainable over time
  • Facilities should be well managed
  • Facilities should seek to benefit the community in as many ways as possible
  • Facilities should have a mechanism for regular monitoring and evaluation, and a mechanism to act on their results

___Assess and work to obtain potential resources

___Do what you can with the resources you have

___Collaborate with other organizations, local government, etc.

___Enlist help from the media

___Advocate with policymakers, legislators, and the public

___Keep at it indefinitely