10 Parks That Changed America, A new documentary will air on PBS starting April 12th. The parks were chosen by a panel of experts and according to Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA, executive vice president and CEO, American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) “The parks were all created to solve complex environmental, social, or economic problems.” Somerville commented on the Squares of Savannah, “Savannah’s squares were created with the belief that everyone should have access to a park. Today, we see the same ideas underlying the environmental justice movement and the quest for clean air and clean water for everyone.”
The City of Beaufort’s Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park is at the top of the list of parks that have changed Beaufort County. The seven acre park became a focal point for downtown Beaufort when it replaced dilapidated docks in 1979. Beaufort County has conserved over 12,000 acres of land and is in the process of determining what kind of parks we want with the help of The Beaufort County Open Land Trust. As the county moves forward in planning the future parks that can change Beaufort County, we should consider The Trust for Public Land seven measures of an excellent park system.
1. A clear expression of purpose – The citizenry must clearly set forth in writing the purpose of the park system and a mandate for the park department.
2. Ongoing planning and community involvement – The park system needs a master plan that include an inventory of natural, recreational, historical and cultural resources, a needs analysis, analysis of connectivity and gaps, an implementation strategy, a budget and an annual evaluation of the plan.
3. Sufficient assets in land, staffing, and equipment to meet the system’s goals – Excellent park departments not only receive adequate funding, but also spend their money wisely and commit themselves to effective stewardship.
4. Equitable access – The excellent park system is accessible to everyone regardless of residence, physical abilities, or financial resources. Parks should be easily reachable form every neighborhood, usable by the handicapped and challenged, and available to low-income residents.
5. User satisfaction –Having high use is the ultimate validation that it is attractive and that it meets people’s needs.
6. Safety from physical hazards and crime – To be successful, a park system should be safe, free both of crime and of unreasonable physical hazards, from sidewalk potholes to rotten branches overhead.
7. Benefits for the city beyond the boundaries of the parks – The park system is a form of natural infrastructure that provides many good including; cleaner air, cleaner water, reduced health costs from sedentary syndromes, increased tourism and increased business vitality.