How Cities Use Parks for Smart Growth

City Parks Forum Briefing Papers 10

By Kathy Blaha



Parks are commonly thought of as the venue for "fun and games," but that is only one role they play in a metropolitan environment. Urban parks, which broadly include parkland, plazas, landscaped boulevards, waterfront promenades, and public gardens, significantly define the layout, real estate value, traffic flow, public events, and the civic culture of our communities. With open spaces, our cities and neighborhoods take on structure, beauty, breathing room, and value.

Public understanding of the pivotal role that parks play in enhancing the quality of life in our cities is growing, along with an understanding of the links between the quality of city parks and sprawling growth on the fringe of cities. City parks are an important element of smart growth that addresses both the public's need for greenspace and the role of greenspace in mitigating higher development density. The smart growth concerns of the public create opportunities for both public agencies and private foundations to leverage support for smart growth, "by making and "re-making" city parks that both strengthen urban cores and protect the fringe.


Page Count
Date Published
June 1, 2005
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Author

Kathy Blaha
Kathy Blaha Kathy Blaha Consulting, LLC Strategic Solutions for Park Partnerships Kathy Blaha is a parks and public lands planner with expertise in local and regional engagement, and planning and governance solutions that support public project development and implementation. Kathy Blaha Consulting, LLC assists nonprofits, grant-making organizations and public agencies with creating and implementing projects for parks and public land use plans. Drawing on more than 30 years of experience helping private, public sector and not-for-profit organizations implement program initiatives Ms. Blaha’s services include researching and launching new initiatives, honing existing programs, project development, learning/training, and partnership creation. Well-known for her facilitation and communication skills she has helped clients move toward project implementation. She is skilled in building partnerships and creating the right foundation for collaborative endeavors and is quick to understand the dynamics and potential of client organizations.