In Part I of “10 Things That Make a Great Park” HAB45 presented our vision for equitable parks and 5 key characteristics that make a great park for young children and their families: safety, innovative play equipment, seating, restrooms, and water fountains. Today we’re bringing you Part II of our “Great Park” series, where we highlight 5 more “great park” criteria that are part of our vision for healthy, equitable parks.
Keeping a park clean and well-maintained makes the park an appealing place to spend time and be physically active, and it can increase safety. While every park user can do her part to keep the park clean, it is the ultimately responsibility of the city where the park is located to ensure that parks are in good working order. A well-maintained park attracts families with young children and shows community members that the park is being cared for. Timely upkeep of trash removal, landscape maintenance, and equipment repairs are all important parts of keeping parks safe, clean, and pleasant public spaces.
In Contra Costa County, summers can get scorching hot, which calls for some sun protection. Wearing sunscreen and a sunhat and drinking plenty of water are all great first lines of defense. But without shade, it can become unbearable for folks to play outside. Shade keeps everyone out of the sun’s harmful UV rays. The presence of shade structures, shade sails, umbrellas, and trees help provide cooler areas for parents, breastfeeding mothers, and little kids to relax and escape the heat.
Little kids love to run around and get their wiggles out (and it’s healthy for them to do so). That’s why sports fields made our list. Sports fields like basketball courts, baseball diamonds, and soccer fields are all great places for kids to get some cardio in while learning how to take turns and cooperate with other kids. These group activities will never go out of style. Also, when not in use for team sports, these fields offer a great place for little kids to engage in unstructured, active play.
Federal law requires public spaces to be accessible to people with disabilities. A park that is compliant with the American with Disabilities Act standards, is a park where all children can play and be kids. Ground level play structures, ramps, and surfacing are important factors for creating an accessible play environment.
Fenced in playspaces or “tot lots” are a great park features for families with young children. When a playspace is fenced in, parents have less to worry about, so they can relax and enjoy the park too. A fence or gate provides protection against busy streets and other potential hazards around the park by preventing little kids wandering out of the play area out of sight of their parents.
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That concludes our two part series, “10 Things That Make a Great Park” (see Part I here). Keep in mind that these are HAB45’s top “great park” criteria. If there are other park features that are important to you that we haven’t captured here, we want to hear about it. Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
Photo credits: 6. http://fischersfinds.com/georgia-hanford-park-a-park-located-off-the-beaten-path-in-mason-city-iowa/ 7. http://www.shade-n-net.com/shade-structures/recreational/dog-parks/ 8. https://www.sammamish.us/News.aspx?ID=511 9. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/06/nyregion/nyregionspecial2/06Rplayground.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0