Taking Park Access for Granted and Resources to Help

By Roxanne Sutton | Posted on August 14, 2018

Park Access 410

Park access is something a lot of us take for granted. Having always lived within a 10-minute walk of a park myself, I didn’t think too much of it until I recently moved to a more rural area. Now, I live within a 10-minute drive of a park. As a car-owner, I still have access to the park, but miss out on some health benefits of getting there and don’t visit as frequently.

But it makes me wonder more about those that don’t have transportation to a park or for whom there is no safe route to a park. Despite my separation from a park, I still benefit from green space because I have a backyard. What about those in environments that lack green space and access to parks?

I fully recognize the privilege of my own situation. My 10-minute drive vs 10-minute walk to a park could certainly be labeled a #FirstWorldProblem. However, for, many people out there, lack of access to a great park is a direct negative impact on their quality of life. This is why NRPA has joined with the Trust for Public Land and the Urban Land Institute to help everyone have access to a 10-minute walk to a park.

My colleague Jared Mummert pulled together a list of all the sessions at the upcoming NRPA Annual Conference that can help agencies improve park access and get closer to achieving a 10-minute walk to a great park for all community members.

Check them out — and if you’re attending the conference this year in Indianapolis, I hope you’ll make park access education part of your trip!

Tuesday, September 25

Comprehensive Master Plans: The Ins, the Outs and the In-Between – 1:00 to 2:15, Rooms 136/137

This session will discuss the process that is undertaken when creating a successful master plan, which should yield specific answers, solutions and actions items that are focused on your agency and your community.

The Age of Connectivity: Putting Trails and Parks at the Center of Our Communities – 1:00 to 2:15, Room 142

As transportation habits change and technologies, like autonomous vehicles, become mainstream, a new opportunity exists to prioritize trails and linear parks in the places where we live. Explore with us how we can create the change we want, and put trails and linear parks at the heart of healthy, thriving communities.

Park and Trail Signage 101: How to Develop a Signage and Wayfinding Program – 1:00 to 2:15, Room 144

Learn about ways the National Park Service, Disney World, and the City of Idaho Falls Department of Parks and Recreation developed their signage and wayfinding programs that help to guide millions of visitors.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Health(iness): All Parks Are NOT Created Equal – 1:00 to 2:15, Wabash 3

This session will show how the “medicinal" value of one park can be measured and compared to another. This presentation will focus on its practical use in planning, designing and promoting parks as public health amenities.

Time Is Money: How the Charrette Process Builds Consensus Effectively – 2:35 to 3:50, Wabash 1

The Charrette Process is a historic concept that has been retooled for today's fast-paced, real-time results environment. The charrette is not only useful for designers, but also for engaging administrators and their clients (boards, committees, etc.) to make meaningful and defensible decisions in a fraction of the time it would take using a traditional planning process.

Is Proximity Enough? How Characteristics Like Awareness Effect Participation – 4:10 to 5:25, Room 243

Some of the driving aspects of community use (participation) and advocacy for park and recreation agencies are related to the availability and proximity of programs and facilities (components of a parks system), and quality and satisfaction with those components. This session will look at the roles community resident and visitor awareness of park and recreation programs and facilities play.

Friends Groups and Foundations: A Key to Leveraging Resources for Your Park – 1:00 to 5:15, Off-Site

A park can’t live on tax dollars alone – enter the friends group or foundation. These entities are not bound by the normal restrictions of local government and, as such, can get a tremendous amount done IF everyone is on the same page! We will visit three Indianapolis parks with different approaches to community engagement: Holiday Park, Garfield Park, and Eagle Creek Park. Please dress appropriately for walking outdoors.

Wednesday, September 26 

Shaping Space for Civic Life: The Pivotal Role of Parks – 2:30 to 3:45, Wabash 2

The Center for Active Design has launched “Assembly: Shaping Space for Civic Life,” a pioneering initiative to leverage place-based design as a tool to enhance civic engagement. This session will introduce the Assembly initiative and its evidence-based approach to shaping community design, with an emphasis on parks and open space. 

Advocacy by Design: Innovations in Parks and Public Places for Building Diverse Constituencies – 4:15 to 5:30, Wabash 3

This session explores ongoing efforts in Akron, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis and Philadelphia to reinvent how cities and local organizations engage people in improving, programming and maintaining civic assets.

Parks in Changing Communities – 4:30 to 5:25, Room 207

Many park planners and designers strive to create well-designed parks that generate positive and productive benefits, including human and environmental health. Looking at projects at multiple scales, from the individual park to the connected park system, this session will consider the tough questions of whose change, what is changing, and what role do parks and designers play in this process.

10-Minute Walk Campaign Reception – 5:30 to 6:30 PM, Westin Indianapolis, Room Capitol 2.

Cities signed on to the 10-Minute Walk campaign are invited to attend this reception. Registration is required and limited to 100 people. Only two people per city may attend.

Thursday, September 27

Best Practices When Approaching Diverse Communities and How to Engage Them – 11:15 to 12:30, Room 142

We need to create and implement new and original ideas to keep the community engaged and take ownership of programs and services while making them our allies. In this session tips, and best practices will be shared to better approach, work and build trusting relationships with these groups, so everyone can access the services that your department offers.

Parks as Catalysts for Urbanizing Suburbia – 1:30 to 2:45, Room 142

The City of Doral’s population has increased by 155% over the last 15 years. This session will explore the unique history of Doral and how its parks system has played a vital role in preserving the city’s quality of life by “re-stitching” its urban fabric, developing innovative ways to integrate new park spaces within a built-out community, and working to reclaim Doral’s public realm one subdivision at a time.

Being Successful in a Politically Charged Environment – 1:30 to 2:45, Rooms 123/124

This session will investigate the change process, political motivation, effective communication techniques, and the methods used to be a change agent. This session focuses on the “what” and “why” of the political process.


Directors’ Corner Sessions 


Roxanne Sutton is NRPA’s Senior Manager of Communications.

Jared Mummert is NRPA’s Program Specialist for the 10-Minute Walk campaign.