What does your community do to make parks and green spaces happen? Join the discussion and read “Food for Thought” for some ideas – let’s talk!

Question 1: How do the superstars of parks in your community make parks happen?

Question 2: What’s the single most important component to making parks happen?

Question 3: Have you taken stalled parks and made them happen? Are you a Pro-Park Leader?


Landscape Architecture Magazine profiles parks funding and how the challenges of the recent economic downturn have dramatically impacted our communities’ ability to support public parks. The article entitled The Park Squeeze by Peter Harnick and Ryan Donahue, Feb. 2014 profiles northern California where community needs for parking, competing needs for infrastructure development, the high costs of land, and the lack of political consensus create obstacles to park development. The Trust for Public Lands was asked by the Association of Bay Area Governments to assess the situation, and their findings reveal many intriguing  facts.

They found that the current economic problems and reduced public funding in the Bay Area has influenced the attitudes of planners, policy makers, the public and community leaders, but paradoxically funding was not specifically the reason parks were stalled. The data shows that: “… most of the proposed Parks in the Bay area PPDA’s [93 Planned Priority Development Areas] didn’t come any closer to fruition during the boom years of a decade ago than during the bust years that followed.”  Parks were not coming to fruition when there was funding either. Their study data shows that the single greatest reason parks get implemented and supported is the backing of a strong pro-parks leader. Even in scarce funding environments. This leadership can come in the form of a single person, a group, a government entity or an advocacy group. And that leader creates the path to success through political avenues.

Intriguing? Yes.

Many parks end up stalled by very minor public opposition, challenging regulatory requirements, or weakened political support because of lack of leadership to move them forward through these obstacles.

“Parks naturally cannot be completed without funding, but the availability of funds alone rarely leads to a park.”

Advocacy, constituency building, and leadership hail as the single greatest components of implementing parks.

What do you think?