Local parks provide a wide range of benefits to communities, including opportunities for physical activity, social interaction, positive youth development, connection to nature, and mental and emotional rejuvenation. While residents in communities across the country widely use and highly value their local parks, it is important that park and recreation professionals continually monitor their inventory of park areas to ensure they meet the needs of the public.
A primary method for analyzing the health and vitality of parks is through evaluations. These evaluations allow an organization to:
- Better understand the park-use patterns, preferences and priorities of a community
- Inform and improve park operations, maintenance and design
- Identify opportunities for the park to support new or diversified programming based on community input
- Justify public investment in a park and gather success stories to gain support and partnerships
Although not exhaustive, this resource presents an overview of measures commonly used in park evaluations. Any measures selected should be based on the purpose of the evaluation and via input from community members and key stakeholders.