Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Contingency planning in parks planning: Montgomery County Maryland edition

According to the Washington Post, ("County asks US to reopen Glen Echo Park," "We all want what we want. So what makes the tea party any different?") Montgomery County public officials are "whining" because Glen Echo Park, a National Park Service installation, is closed, and there is negative economic impact from it ( discussed within this article, "Donation could have Ford's Theatre National Historic Site open Wednesday"), even though for the most part, the park serves residents and visitors from the region, not out-of-region "tourists" ("America's national parks losing £48m a day," Daily Mail).

Fort Bayard is one of the Fort Circle "Civil War" Parks in DC, and is on the border of DC and Maryland, and the intersection of Western Avenue and River Road NW.   Arguably, the Fort Circle Parks could make sense under the jurisdiction of either DC or the NPS.  In terms of the park's use, it functions as a neighborhood park.

As I keep writing (e.g., "Parks issues" from 2011), if your "local" jurisdiction has within it parks that are run by other entities, be they a county or other form of parks district agency, a state, or the federal government, then your "local" parks master plan ought to have recommendations for how your locality can deal with the facilities if circumstances change and they close.

This is an ongoing issue in DC, because many of the "local" parks in the city are owned and operated by the National Park Service as a result of DC being the Federal City.

The National Park Service has laid out a method for states or other local governments to pay for the operation of NPS installations if the Antideficiency Act and failure by Congress to pass a budget force their closure.  See "Federal shutdown as another example of why local jurisdictions should have more robust contingency and master planning processes."

I don't know how it came about that what became Glen Echo Park was acquired by the National Park Service in the early 1970s.  But the programming for the park is not "national" in orientation.  The partnership that has developed an arts and cultural programming orientation for the park is clearly not focused on marketing to market segments outside of the local area.

The issue is that Montgomery County didn't do robust enough contingency planning in advance to deal with the potentiality of the closure of the park, or to plan for the possible acquisition of the park from the Park Service, as it is mostly a local serving park not serving what we might call the typical "national park" mission.

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