Pilot Projects Promote Equity and Green Infrastructure in Parks

Last August, APA and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) were proud to announce the recipients of the 2016 Great Urban Parks Campaign grant.

Park Pride, the Parks and People Foundation, Environmental Learning for Kids, and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy were awarded grants totaling $1.75 million in support of green infrastructure projects in Atlanta, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Denver.

Green infrastructure in urban parks is an efficient way to reduce flooding, improve water quality, improve wildlife habitat, and increase biodiversity, all while providing opportunities for access to nature and outdoor recreation in underserved communities.

The grant awards issued to Park Pride and Environmental Learning for Kids are being used to develop new public parks in Atlanta and Denver, and the grant awards issued to the Parks and People Foundation and Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy are being used to revitalize existing parks in Baltimore and Pittsburgh.

All four projects include significant green infrastructure elements and are now well on their way to completion.

Ambrose Kennedy Park: Baltimore

At Ambrose Kennedy Park in Baltimore, the Parks and People Foundation has worked to engage community members and project partners to raise awareness and get the neighborhood more involved. Community leaders are collaborating with the Department of Social Services to set up a "train the teacher" program to train adults in the neighborhood on how to teach kids to respect, steward and love their greenspace/park.

Boone Park West: Atlanta

Boone Park West will establish a new 3.5 acre public park in the English Avenue neighborhood on the west side of the City of Atlanta. The park design incorporates green infrastructure that will capture over seven million gallons of stormwater per year, providing critical capacity relief for aging combined sewer infrastructure. Project partners Park Pride, The Conservation Fund, and Chattahoochee Riverkeeper have facilitated a community-directed visioning process to develop the park master plan in coordination with a number of community-based organizations including the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, Community Improvement Association, ECO-Action, and the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, as well as a workforce development component supported by the Greening Youth Foundation that will hire local youth from the surrounding community.

Montbello Open Space Park: Denver

The design team continues to coordinate activities for site development plans, construction documents, and pricing schedule. Environmental Learning for Kids has held successful fundraising events for the new park, including an $180,000 commitment from the Trust for Public Land to complete the artwork planned for within the park.

McKinley Park: Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy (PPC) has conducted several rounds of community meetings and plan revisions and had its preliminary design approved by the Pittsburgh Art Commission. In addition to focusing on workforce development opportunities, PPC is working to expand partnerships with half a dozen community-based organizations to document the forest and wildlife resources within the park and create and implement a forest restoration plan.

Program Partners

APA is partnering with NRPA on the Great Urban Parks Campaign. NRPA is a nonprofit education and membership organization representing approximately 50,000 park and recreation professionals and citizen advocates. It advances parks, recreation, and environmental conservation efforts that enhance the quality of life for all people.

APA is also working with the Low Impact Development Center, a leader in the promotion and implementation of low impact development and green infrastructure.

Top image: Photo in the public domain.

About the Author
Jennifer Henaghan is APA's deputy research director.

July 25, 2017

By Jennifer Henaghan, AICP