Open space is a key contributor to quality of life. To ensure that cities remain economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable, it is imperative that high quality open space is available for both current and new residents. But how do we know how much open space our cities need?
Miami, FL is struggling with this question as its downtown revitalizes. One idea is to use public land, a resource the government has the most control over. New, more accessible tools, like the Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore which ranks communities based on acreage, service and investment, and access, are making it easier for communities to evaluate their current conditions. Thankfully, there is dynamic new thinking about how parks and open space can sustain and grow a community’s quality of life.
During the Columbia Pike Land Use and Housing Study planning process, the sub-consultant AECOM explained how parks and open space thinking has evolved to a Collaborative Parks System. The emphasis of these systems is on livability and sustainability, responding to current issues, and aggressively partnering with others to meet community needs. This emphasis is derived from a number of guiding principles; namely, that the Collaborative Park System is green and energy efficient, generates economic benefits, activated 24/7, context sensitive, connected, promotes healthy lifestyles, flexible, reaches out to the community, integrated into the community’s infrastructure, protects and enhances natural and cultural resources, maximizes use of all available resources, and transcends silos. This emphasis and these myriad principles set the framework for open space planning today and clearly require a wide range of spaces, programs, and facilities.