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.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

National Park Week, April 18th-26th

The National Park Service launched National Park Week by offering free entry over the weekend to those parks where a fee is normally charged.

But almost 3/4 of national park sites are free anyway--only 128 of 407 installations charge fees.

While most people think of national parks as the big wilderness parks such as Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, a number of NPS parks and sites are in urban areas.

Yet for the most part, the urban parks are managed the same way as wilderness parks, at least in DC, and this creates issues around "activation."

Rules designed for the operation of a big national park are applied to the various parks of all sizes in DC, making it impossible to "sell food" in a park like Dupont Circle or to have a dog park in an otherwise under-used "neighborhood" park.

For DC, I've argued two things.  First, that local park and recreation master plans should provide guidance on "national parks" in the city to represent citizen interests for those parks which function as local parks regardless of federal (or state or county or other) ownership.  See "Federal shutdown as another example of why local jurisdictions should have more robust contingency and master planning processes."

Second, within DC there should be a typology of NPS and other federal "park" installations in the city, making determinations of what parks are truly "federal' and those parks which could be turned over to the city and managed as local parks.

... then again, the city doesn't want the financial responsibility.

Another example of the general point about local communities having parks plans which provide guidance for county, state, and national lands within their borders is important when financial circumstances change, and states consider closing parks.  Right now, this is an issue in Louisiana, as the state faces a deficit of more than $1 billion ("Louisiana parks will have layoffs, closures due to midyear budget cuts," New Orleans Times-Picayune) and is closing three historic sites as part of budget cuts.

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