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Thread: Development of park-land on existing open spaces

  1. #1
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Development of park-land on existing open spaces

    Working as an intern, I recently was an integral part in helping try to develop an existing parcel of open land (donated by the developer) into a park.

    We received a grant so we thought we'd use it to develop a park in a neighborhood that lacked one. It was nothing major...just a basketball shot-around, bocce ball area, gazebo, a few bike paths, and adding a few trees.

    So we send the notices of our intentions to develop this land as a park to area residents. And what do we get? 95% of the people, very angry, not wanting it developed into parkland in any way. We have since decided to abandon the idea for now.

    So how do you deal with this? Have you ever dealt with this? I can see people being pissed about a Wal-Mart going up in their backyard. But a few recreational amenities?!?!?!

    I guess their loss, though, right?
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    I can think of a few reasons, trying to put msyelf in their place.

    In some communities, basketball courts, etc. become gathering points for 'gangs' of teenagers that some people find threatening or noisy/boisterous.

    Many people in the US seem to ascribe to the ideal that the 'perfect' home is one where they never see or hear anyone else. Again, this is partly due to breakdown in civility.

    Maybe they fear extra traffic or construction noise or?

    Lastly, many people see some value in 'unimproved' open land, as opposed to a landscaped park.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Public opinion/input is vital to the planning process. To some, and albeit alot I bet, a permanently preserved tract of land is more important than a park.

  4. #4
         
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    Looks like its time to start over and ask the neighborhood what they want. A passive open space may be more desirable for the reasons previously given. This summer we are getting a number of complaints from people who have moved into an area with active park facilities. Some homeowners don't like the lights, noise, traffic and people out after dark. However, maybe only the angry people responded to your notice. You may have some folks out there dissapointed that the park is not being developed.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus
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    AIB Senior Jefe

    Neighborhood Meeting time
    mail them an invitation to a meeting - the meeting place should be close as possible to them;
    newspaper - try to get an article, not just public notice, about the meeting.

    Did you map the complaints so you know their distance from the parcel ?
    Did any of the complaints offer any reasonable/workable alternatives or just B&M about it ?
    Oddball
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    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I agree - need to meet with the neighborhood. The issue, as others have noted, may not be the idea of the park, but what you have proposed to put there. It also may be that those who bothered to contact you did so to complain, whereas others who like the idea just didn't bother saying anything.

    Again, a community meeting can help clear this up.

    Another key dynamic is likely the reaction to being "told" what was going to happen there, rather than being invited to brainstorm. Much of the time, if you get the community together, they may still come to the same final idea that you would have proposed, but they support it because they were involved. This also gives them more ownership and may make it more likely that they will look after the place.

    It is interesting to see people opposed to a park. Here, its often the very first item to come up in any community visioning session - "we need parks!"
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  7. #7
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    First of all, they did have a meeting. It was an hour open-house event, where people could come to the village hall (which is only like a 3-5 minute drive), see the plans, be able to talk to the planners, and submit their written comments (which I got to view).

    We didn't get a newspaper article though and we only mailed to the 30 residents who would be closest to the park, primarily those who back up to the park. I think the comments would be more balanced if we sent mailings to the entire neighborhood.

    I think the basketball shoot-around was a bad idea and probably the thing people were most worried about (crime, vandalism, gangs, etc.). I think if it was just the trails and gazebo and maybe bocce ball, it would be not much of a problem and more convincing.

    Nobody seemed willing to want anything developed there. But it's not like we were going to cut down entire tracts of woodland.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

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