How to Start a Community Park

How to Start a Community Park

| Dec 11, 2020

A local park is the best way to bring a community together and inspire social interaction to spark new friendships. Because a public park allows kids to play and parents to meet safely outdoors, there’s no time like the present to start a new community park. A park — often the community’s heart and soul — can bring your town a sense of togetherness and unity.

This article will go over some of the benefits of starting a community park, how to start a public park, the types of equipment you will need, and where to find it. If you’re considering creating a public park for your community, keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the process.

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Advantages of Starting a Community Park

Before discussing how to start your community park, let’s take a look at why you should build one in the first place. Here are the top three benefits of creating a community park.

1. Increased Community Wellness

Parks give people a place to break free of a sedentary lifestyle and get active. While most people understand physical activity and aerobic exercise are good for us, it can be challenging to fit exercise into the day without a convenient place to walk or work out. However, studies have shown, having a community park nearby can inspire an increase in exercise and a 25% increase in community members getting active three times per week or more.

Along with physical health benefits, being near a green space can improve mental health. Spending time in nature can help alleviate mental health problems like stress, anxiety, and depression. Research has found, taking a walk in nature can minimize negative thoughts, showing parks benefit both the mind and body.

Another way a park can boost a community’s overall well-being is by providing a space for neighbors to connect and families to bond. Parks give people the chance to interact and form relationships to serve as the basis of community. For this reason, residents living in cities with more land dedicated to parks report higher levels of community well-being.

Community parks can strengthen family bonds, too. Parks can bring families together for both everyday fun activities and major life milestones like a graduation party. When families participate in recreational activities together at their local park, they report greater feelings of happiness and cohesiveness. As a bonus, community park access is free, so families of all income levels can enjoy some outdoor recreation together.

2. Improved Child Development

Kids playing at the community park

The kids in your community will directly benefit from living near a park. Playing at a park positively affects kids’ physical activity levels, which helps their overall health. Spending time outside also leads to fewer behavioral problems and ADHD symptoms, better test scores, improved cognitive functioning, and more self-discipline for kids.

Community parks can also enhance kids’ multi-sensory experiences by engaging them in activities involving multiple senses. For example, parks with playgrounds often feature brightly-colored slides, bridges, and balance beams to encourage kids to use their visual, tactile, motion, and balance senses more. Some playgrounds even include musical instruments to help meet auditory needs.

Parks help kids make new friends and further their social skills. Playground games promote social interactions between kids, which gives them a chance to practice their social skills in an informal setting. Although kids might already have friends at school, a local park will help them make new friends with other kids near their neighborhood.

3. Community Park Environmental Benefits

community park trees absorbing carbon dioxide

Creating a community park can also help protect the environment, especially in more urban areas. Although air pollution from cars in bigger cities can adversely affect outdoor air quality, planting trees in recreational spaces can reduce air pollution. Because each acre of tree cover can remove 80 pounds of air pollution, increasing the number of trees in your city can clean up the air.

Along with removing air pollution, trees and other greenery use carbon dioxide to create food through photosynthesis. By taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, plants help reduce climate change. A single tree can absorb 13 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.

Due to their ability to combat air pollution and fight climate change, trees and other plants make parks key components to a thriving community.

How to Start a Community Park

Now you know the reasons to found a public park. Here are five steps you can use to start one in your community.

1. Find a Good Spot for Your Park

Getting regular visitors to your park will require  considering what your community needs.

Location can make or break a community park. When choosing where to build your park, look for a place accessible to everyone in the community, which means it complies with Americans With Disabilities Act standards and is easily reachable via public transportation, bike, or car. If you put your park in a central location, more people will use it.

To understand how to make your park accessible, you need to know your market and community. Getting regular visitors to your park will require considering what your community needs. For example, does your town have more young children, senior members, or a mix of ages? This demographic information will affect what you put in your park and how you market it.

In designing your park, you want to prioritize public participation and how to get the most members of your community possible to take advantage of the park. Most often, this means finding a convenient location, such as somewhere central to several local schools or within walking distance of local senior homes.

When looking for the perfect place for your park, keep safety and character in mind as well. Put your park somewhere safe, with a low crime rate. Also, think about whether there’s a unique spot or historic location to offer more to attract the public. Ask yourself whether your community has any qualities to showcase and drive up foot traffic.

2. Plan Alongside the Community

Designing a park shouldn’t be a solitary process. Inviting the community into your early planning phases is crucial to helping you identify your design’s strengths and weaknesses. Drawing on collective community minds will also give you insight into what the public likes and dislikes, so you can create a park everyone approves of and wants to use.

If you fail to solicit any community feedback, you may encounter public backlash. Including community members in designing the park can help you avoid complaints and build support for the project. Most members of your community will probably be happy to give you their input.

community figures consulting on community park planning

Here are three crucial categories of community figures to consult with when planning your public park.

  • Public officials: Either at the local or state level, elected officials can be of great service to your park’s success. Public officials often have the power to approve or reject your park project, so be sure to consult with them throughout the planning process. If you don’t already work within your town or city’s parks and recreation department, connect with your local department members to gain support.
  • School leaders: Education facilities and public schools are typically in favor of community parks because they recognize the importance of getting kids outside and active. Solidifying your school leaders’ approval can help build more support for your project and ensure your park will get used. Depending on your area’s demographics, you may want to meet with daycare and preschool leaders as well to learn what sort of age-appropriate playground equipment your park should have.
  • Community influencers: From local community association leaders to PTO and service club leaders, every community has citizens with a higher level of public sway. Often, their approval of a project inspires other community members to be in favor of it as well. You will want to secure support from these influencers to help get your park completed efficiently and with minimal opposition.

3. Come up With Multiple Park Activity Options

The activity options available within your park will determine how attractive it is to potential visitors. Based on your town’s demographics and your community’s input, decide whether to include open fields for sports, a playground for kids to play on, a pavilion with grills for cookouts, a sand area for activities like volleyball, or another type of park feature.

Offering multiple options will make the park more attractive to a broader audience. Here are a few ways you can increase your park’s appeal.

  • Picnic areas: Make your park a gathering place for everyone in your community by offering spaces for families, social clubs, and sports groups to meet up and enjoy a meal together. A picnic area will give your park’s visitors a place to socialize, eat, relax, and enjoy the natural scenery.
  • Playground: For most parks, a play area is a must. Adding a playground to your park will attract families with children and create a social setting for parents. Help the kids in your community play, learn, and grow by offering a safe, fun play area in your public park.
  • Fitness equipment: Your park can attract more fitness fans by offering outdoor exercise equipment and sports gear, making it a free alternative to the local gym. Help community members lead healthy, active lifestyles by installing equipment like a pull-up bar or push-up station to enhance their overall fitness.
  • Dog park: Make your park dog-friendly by fencing off a section of green space specifically for furry friends and their owners. You can elevate this area by adding tunnels and hurdle features for the pups to play on.

4. Organize Landscaping and Architecture

Your park’s layout will depend on its surroundings and terrain. Ideally, you should work with the ground, as opposed to against it. Embrace whatever slopes and banks exist within your park and let them add to the park’s natural feel. Work with natural elements already in your park to draw attention to vistas or viewpoints and form natural barriers from neighboring buildings.

Along with foliage, take the sun into account when designing your park. Think through the sun pattern and try to organize your park’s shade in a way to suit various times of the day and seasonal changes. Making use of shade will help protect your park-goers from sunburn and scalding hot playground pieces.

At this point in your park planning, you will want to work alongside a landscape architect to get a professional’s perspective. A landscape architect can turn your park concept into a reality while staying within budget. By making the most of the proposed park space, a landscape architect can fill your park with multiple activity options for community members to enjoy.

5. Get the Right Park Furnishings for Your Layout

Once you’ve decided which types of activities you can offer in your park and its general design, you can start choosing specific items to put in your park. When considering furnishings for your park, ensure you invest in high-quality items made from durable materials to promote sustainability and will provide your community with pleasing aesthetics for years.

Along with larger structures like playground equipment and pavilions, your park will need other furnishings like benches and bike racks. These smaller details can help visitors feel more comfortable and enhance their park experience. We’ll talk more in-depth about selecting park amenities in the following section.

How to Design A Community Park

When designing a public park, there are a variety of factors you must consider before you start brainstorming and researching. These questions will help direct and focus your efforts. This way, you’ll build an inclusive space for the whole community to enjoy.

Who Will Use the Space?

What age range lives in the community? If there are young families, you’ll want areas for kids and parents to play together. If retirees live near the park, you’ll want plenty of places for members of the community to sit and enjoy the sunshine. What homes are around the park? If there are apartments surrounding the park, those users will have different needs than someone who has their own backyard. Considering the demographics of your intended user base will help you pinpoint the exact needs you must meet.

How Can We Make the Park Accessible?

Not every child who wants to use the playground has the same level of physical ability. Children with walkers, wheelchairs, and other mobility devices should have equal access to the space. Select a turf under the playground that a wheelchair can easily maneuver over. Wood chips won’t work. For the seating areas, make sure older residents can safely walk across the surface. Include some tables that have a side without benches so users of wheelchairs can sit at the tables, too.

What is the Park’s Mission?

Are you building the park for community sports leagues? For young children to practice fine motor skills and learn lessons like sharing? Perhaps you need a space for community events like a theater or a movie in the park. Maybe you just want a place for people of all ages to enjoy nature. Think about what you want the park to accomplish because that will shift your method for achieving those goals.

How Can the Park Highlight the Land’s Features and Integrate Into the Community?

Especially in urban settings, the park might be the only place some members of the community get to experience nature regularly. If a lovely grove of trees already grows there, incorporate them into the layout of the park. If the land has a rolling hill, work with the feature, not against it. Parks should collaborate with the natural space they occupy, so try to let nature dictate the planning. If the land is a blank slate, make sure you add natural features to the park.

How to Choose Equipment for Your Community Park

Of course, your community park’s equipment needs will depend on the activities you plan to offer. Some features, like a dog agility course or an exercise circuit area, will require very specific pieces of equipment. Regardless of the special activities, your park will have, every good park needs a few basic furnishings to make it inviting for people to gather and hang out.

Outfit your community park with these 10 amenities.

  1. Picnic tables: A comfortable place to eat is essential for a public park. A good picnic table provides families and friends a place to sit, snack, and enjoy each other’s company while soaking in pleasant weather. When choosing picnic tables for your park, think about the types of people who will be visiting and whether they would prefer round, rectangular or square tables, as well as what kind of seating they would like.
  2. Benches: Benches are an essential component of any park. By giving your park’s guests a spot to sit, talk with friends, read the paper, overlook the scenery or think in peace, a few park benches can complete your community park design. It is especially crucial to situate some benches near your park’s playground space or dog park area for parents and dog parents alike to relax while their kids or canines play. When picking a park bench, you can choose from traditional benches, backless benches, sectioned benches, or specialized benches in a particular color or style.
  3. Shade umbrellas: Adequate shade and sun protection are crucial for your park, especially if the park does not contain enough tree coverage or a pavilion. Adding umbrellas to your park’s layout can make up for a lack of natural shade and shield your picnic tables from the sun.
  4. Park grills: If your park is going to have a picnic area, it should also have a way for park visitors to prepare their meals. Giving your park’s guests a grilling area can enhance your picnic area and attract more people. Placing a few grills and fire rings around your park will create a space for community members to host cookouts, barbecues, and other summer parties.
  5. Game tables: In addition to picnic seating, you can go above and beyond by offering game tables for guests to play things like chess and checkers. Game tables inspire face-to-face interaction and the chance to form new friendships. They are also durable and able to withstand the elements.
  6. Bike racks: As bike riding continues to surge in popularity, including bike racks in your public park design will be a valuable consideration. Offering bike racks will encourage community members to get some exercise during their commute to the park and reduce pollution from vehicles. More people will be likely to bike to your park if they can count on having a secure place to lock their bikes upon arrival.
  7. Waste receptacles: To keep your park clean and respectful of the environment, make sure you provide enough waste receptacles around your park for people to easily dispose of their trash and recyclable items. Because maintaining a clean part is critical to getting visitors to come back again, you can’t have too many waste receptacles stationed around your park. Especially if your park features a dog-specific area, make sure you have enough waste receptacles and trash receptacle lids near the dog park to ensure the space remains poop-free.
  8. Playground structure: Any park hoping to draw in families with kids has to have a playground area. A good playground structure will keep kids engaged and promote physical activity, social interaction, intellectual involvement, and imaginative play. Finding playground equipment with brightly colored designs to stimulate multiple senses will help further kids’ development in many areas. Choose playground equipment for your park to appeal to a wide variety of ages and meets safety standards.
  9. Swings: Whether in addition to a playground structure or in place of one, swings are a must for any community park. As a staple of early childhood days, swings are essential. Add swings to your park’s design to let your community members experience the joys of flying higher and higher into the air. If you want your park to stand out from others, include a bench swing to allow multiple people to sit and talk together while rocking gently.
  10. Water fountains: Staying hydrated during a long, sunny day at the park is critical. Make it convenient for your park’s guests to get enough water by installing water fountains throughout the park. If your park features a dog-friendly area, make sure there are enough water fountains around to keep them refreshed and able to keep romping around with their canine friends.

Get Your Park’s Equipment From Wabash Valley Site Furnishings

When searching for furnishings to suit your community park design, why not work with one of the most reliable and trusted names in the country? With more than 30 years of experience in the outdoor site furnishings and amenities industry, Wabash Valley Site Furnishings can help you find exactly what you need to complete your community park.

At Wabash Valley Furnishings, our experienced team has worked alongside landscape architecture and design firms to bring outdoor project plans to life. We use top-quality, eco-friendly techniques to create durable, stylish, and affordable outdoor site furnishings to complement any community park design. Our meticulous design process results in products particularly compatible with outdoor environments in a range of styles and colors.

When you partner with Wabash Valley Furnishings, you can expect to receive these specific benefits.

  • Quality: We know outdoor site furnishings need to be able to brave the elements and survive years of exposure to inclement weather. We rigorously test our products for stability and durability against all sorts of outdoor hazards before allowing them to exit our facility.
  • Quick manufacturing: At Wabash Valley Site Furnishings, we use cutting-edge technology to make our manufacturing process as efficient as possible. You won’t believe how quickly we can manufacture the furnishings for your park project, while still upholding our standard of excellence.
  • Low maintenance: Once you order outdoor furnishings from our company, you can relax with the peace of mind your new products will last for years. We’ll even give you a five-year complete product replacement warranty.
  • Bulk purchasing: If you need a large quantity of specific items, you can be sure Wabash Valley Furnishings’ customer service will get you those products for a special bulk price. Our manufacturing process is also conducive to making sure your bulk purchase items complement each other and perfectly meet your design specifications.

To find the perfect outdoor furnishings for your public park, browse the vast selection of high-quality products available from Wabash Valley Site Furnishings. Our outdoor amenities are durable and aesthetically pleasing, which means they’ll be able to draw in park visitors for years. We offer our products in various colors and styles, so you’ll have no problem finding the best fit for your community park design.

If you’re ready to start furnishing your community park, contact us today!