How to Choose a Location for a Community Park
Parks play a critical role in the community. They offer the space and opportunity for exercise, social interactions, and unstructured play and free time for all ages. These recreational areas serve local citizens in many ways, from providing areas to have an outdoor picnic or teaching children how to swing on the swing set.
If you’re looking to build a community park and playground, there are quite a few things you need to consider during your planning and design phase. While your local area will have its own recreational regulations, there are some general steps you can take to bring your vision to life. Let’s explore why community parks are so beneficial and how to decide where to build a community park.
Why Community Parks Matter
While community and city parks are certainly enjoyable, they’re also important for health and well-being. Spending time outdoors provides many physical, emotional, and psychological benefits, including:
- Reduced stress
- Improved mood, attention span, and working memory
- Reduced risk of psychiatric disorders
- Increased happiness and positive social interaction
- Improved sleep quality
- Enhanced focus and concentration
As many people spend most of their days at work or school in artificial and fluorescent lighting, getting to go outside and relax in a public green space can help with stressful days. Research shows that adding more greenery through community parks and playgrounds can reduce residents’ feelings of depression by 41%, which can help encourage better attitudes and relationships toward one another.
Here are some other primary benefits of community parks.
Improve Public Health and Air Quality
Trees and plants in public parks help reduce water pollution by filtering rain — minimizing waterborne illnesses and protecting our drinking water. Community parks offer plenty of shade that also helps keep the area cool. Natural sunlight and foliage also provide essential human needs like increased oxygen and vitamin D production.
These nutrients are particularly important due to the increased amount of time people spend looking at their electronic devices. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), kids between the ages of 8-18 spend an average of 7.5 hours a day staring at screens. Adults spend an average of 11 hours a day looking at screens. Having a community park nearby allows adults and kids to step away from their TVs and phones and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.
Encourage Active and Healthy Lifestyles
Those with community facilities like public parks will likely spend more time outdoors exercising, riding their bike, taking their kids to play on a playground, or walking their dogs. Living within one mile of a community park is positively associated with higher rates of social interaction and frequent exercise.
Regular physical activity can reduce many physical and mental health problems, such as obesity, which is a significant problem for one in five children in America. Maintaining a healthy weight by frequenting the local park can also help community residents avoid costly treatments and tests associated with health problems — minimizing health care costs.
Community parks can help encourage this consistent, moderate exercise. Research shows that most Americans spend about 90% of their lives indoors, so spending an extra 30 minutes outdoors could positively impact our oxygen levels, physical fitness, and emotional health. Parks are also beneficial for people with chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart conditions.
As time in nature reduces the risk of heart disease and lowers blood pressure, many people can start to see the positive effects of their community park the more they incorporate it into their lifestyle. Some community parks have playgrounds and fitness centers, so people of all ages have equipment that suits their needs and helps them stay active and healthy.
Help Kids Develop Skills and Abilities
While public park playgrounds are great for motivating kids to exercise and get moving, these spaces also help kids engage with others their age and improve their cognitive and motor skills. At a local park, kids in your community can also:
- Explore creativity and challenges: A public playground allows kids to have free, unstructured playtime with nature and other kids where they can explore imaginative, creative ideas and master new skills. For example, kids can learn to conquer their fears and challenge themselves as they successfully climb playground components and learn to swing without needing an adult to push them.
- Develop social and emotional skills: As kids interact with others on the playground, they’ll also learn about different perspectives and use problem-solving skills. Cooperating with others to build a sandcastle or making up games of pretend play can significantly boost kids’ social and emotional health.
- Regulate emotions: Interacting with others on a social level is particularly important during early childhood, when kids learn to regulate their behaviors and express their emotions. This learning phase also helps them develop an understanding of the feelings of others and facilitates positive and rewarding relationships down the line.
- Gain curiosity and new experiences: Going to a community park and playground allows kids to experience adventure, explore their curiosity, and expand the use of their senses in the natural world. Most importantly, they’ll have fun doing it.
Things to Consider When Planning a Community Park
While community parks have plenty of benefits, there are some things you should consider during the planning and design phase. Review these items to help you plan a great public park.
Accessibility and Inclusion
When deciding where to put a community park, make sure it’s accessible and inclusive to adults and kids of all abilities and needs. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), public parks and playgrounds must meet accessibility guidelines for parking, pedestrian paths, restrooms, and seating areas.
Essentially, anyone coming to visit your park should be able to easily navigate around different routes with mobility devices. Ramps and smooth surfacing are great ways to help keep your community playground accessible.
It’s mandatory to comply with ADA standards. Going above and beyond these standards can help you reduce limitations even further and allow visitors to engage in meaningful, inclusive activities. Having an accessible playground also encourages all kids to come together to play instead of separating individuals with special needs from socializing and playing with others. Failing to have ADA-compliant equipment or pathways can also result in legal action, such as fines, so pay strict attention to the requirements.
While you must meet ADA standards, you should also go even further and provide inclusive options like sensory products to engage all kids.
You should also plan your playground area carefully to support clear sightlines. Adults and parents should be able to sit, socialize, or rest while having a constant view of their kids playing on the playground. Adults with mobility devices should also be able to navigate to your equipment easily through various entryways and exit points.
Present and Future Needs
Something else to keep in mind when planning a public park and playground is the needs of your community. If you build your park near a school or large neighborhood, you’ll likely have a wide range of kids who want to enjoy your greenery and equipment. However, even if your location only has a small number of families nearby, it’s still important to consider future growth in that area.
This can also help you plan the type of playground you install, because equipment meant only for toddlers can quickly become less relevant in a few years without age-appropriate options for older, bigger kids. On the other hand, creating a playground without a space for toddlers can exclude some families, daycares, and preschools.
Consider how you can account for your community’s present and future needs as the population changes and grows. You can always build a complete playground structure that suits ages 2-12 to offer various play options.
Tips for Choosing a Location for a Community Park
Many different factors go into choosing the location for a community park. Knowing how to meet your community’s needs while providing a fun, enjoyable space for families to play and socialize can benefit your local area. Let’s explore some tips for building a community park and how to help make it successful.
1. Examine the Land, Climate, and Environment
When scouting different areas to build your park, consider the topography of the land. If the ground is not entirely even, you may have to grade it before building any community playground equipment. You can also use ramped structures to fit higher land levels and create more elevated decks for neighborhood kids to climb on.
Other location factors to consider include:
- Drainage: As you examine the land at your location, be sure to ask about the drainage, groundwater, and type of soil. This can help you understand how heavy rain or natural disasters may affect your park and playground area.
- Surfacing: You’ll also need to look at different types of playground surfacing, such as engineered wood fiber or poured-in-place rubber, which will take time to install. Determining these details early on in the process will help get your project going faster.
- Landscaping: It’s important to make sure there are plenty of trees and plants at your park to provide a beautiful environment and create shade on sunny days. You can always add trees, plants, and flowers if your location doesn’t have enough greenery.
- Climate: Lastly, be sure to consider the climate in your area. If your location has frequent rainy days or extremely high temperatures, you should have enough rain coverings and shade structures to keep your visitors comfortable through various elements.
2. Consider Character and Safety
When choosing a community location for your park, see if there are any historic areas nearby that might help attract visitors. If there are other community spaces near your park that families and guests like to frequent, it can help drive traffic to your park as they see it during their daily outings. These types of historic or family-friendly spots near community park locations can bring character to your area and make it more enjoyable for visitors.
In addition to character, consider how safe your location is. Is there a low crime rate? Is it in an area where people often speed? These issues can indicate that your park might not do well in this area and may deter families from feeling safe while taking their kids to play on the playground. Studies show that unsafe areas with high crime are associated with fewer park visits.
3. Know Your Community and Market
If you want to attract visitors and families to your park regularly, you need to know who you’re catering to. While most public parks cater to families, there are many different age groups you should account for in your design. For instance, do you have a senior community nearby? Or are you surrounded by a large school district with kids ranging from preschool to high school?
You want to make your park engaging for everyone — from toddlers to seniors — looking to enjoy the outdoors, exercise, or play on a playground. Picking a location and designing with every demographic in mind can allow all members of your community to participate and socialize with others.
One of the best community park tips you can follow is to identify who your park will benefit and service during your location scouting. Then, when you decide on a location, you can prioritize and make the most of your space for park activities while still keeping the future in mind.
4. Involve Your Community in the Design
A great way to create more opportunities for socialization is to assess the needs of your community and see what’s most important to its members. If you’re looking to attract families, you can reach out to your local schools, recreational facilities, and neighborhood associations to gain their input on a community park location.
No one knows more about your community’s needs than the citizens themselves, so bringing everyone together to collectively help you choose the best location during your developing stage can make all the difference.
With the help of your neighborhood members, you can make better decisions on your location. Take their input to use further along in the process of designing and building your community park, as well.
Families in your community will voice their preferences and concerns to help you create a vision that works for everyone. This collaborative effort will help your community feel more involved and like they’re being heard. And you can gear your activities, playground equipment, and features to fit their needs.
You can also ask around to see which areas of nearby parks are neglected or underutilized to make changes and adjust your new location to fit a well-rounded list of interests. Mail out a survey or share your website for feedback, votes, and comments on your upcoming park project. This will help you determine what your community will support and let you use your budget wisely.
5. Factor in Amenities and Activities
While the landscaping and greenery of your location can be the first eye-catching factor that influences your decision, it’s also important to remember that you’ll need to make room for amenities your guests depend on. Choosing the right location for your community park requires having enough room for:
- Open spaces
- Fitness activities
- Playground equipment
- Pedestrian paths and walkways
- Seating areas
These inclusions depend on the size of the park you’re trying to build. Do you envision a large, open area with many diverse activities and amenities? Or are you aiming for a smaller location built primarily for public playground equipment and a pavilion for families to grill outdoors? No matter what size recreational location you choose, you can find various ways to fit in multipurpose services that make entertainment easy for your community.
Consider the surrounding areas and how that might affect your guests’ viewpoints when you start building the architecture. Your guests will likely need a public bathroom, water fountains, and tables and chairs to enjoy their lunch or sit and relax. Other public park amenities include bicycle racks, litter receptacles, bridges, benches, and shelters. You’ll need plenty of space for these amenities in addition to your playground and parking lot, so keep this in mind during design.
Choosing Little Tikes Commercial
The importance of community parks is immense, but creating a public park takes time. Catering to many different needs and interests of all age groups involves a lot of considerations, especially when it comes to designing and building a playground.
With Little Tikes Commercial, we can make your vision a reality with our flexible plans and community park funding options. Playgrounds encourage visitors to use your park because they allow children to play, exercise, and explore nature while adults and parents can relax and socialize.
While building a community park, there are countless elements you’ll need to plan and budget for to bring your dream to life. For your playground alone, you’ll need to cover the site preparation, surfacing, landscaping, and equipment. Our playground planning and phasing options help you create a plan that allows you to bring your park to life at your own pace. Adding a playground can significantly enhance your space, but it is an investment, so spreading out your costs can help you reach your goal while managing your expenses.
At Little Tikes Commercial, we carry many different playground equipment options and products that are sure to align with the design you have in mind while meeting the needs of your community. We can work with your budget to bring you different color and equipment combinations that attract families to your location and let kids explore the importance of outdoor play.
Our playground equipment can help kids learn to appreciate their natural environment and encourage them to explore sensory play, with fundamental components such as:
You can also add themed play structures to your park for a cohesive look. These structures create a world where kids can explore many different stories and pretend play. From our Kid Builders® structures to our train or ship themes, you can implement a playground that encourages kids to work together and use their imagination as they explore new ideas, concepts, and games.
Our Motion Play products benefit school-age kids who are learning about concepts like balance, motion, gravity, and resistance. This type of playground equipment makes it easy for kids to get hands-on learning as they discover the cause and effect of certain elements they engage with.
You can even opt for a customized playground to build your vision from scratch and create a unique area for your community to interact with.
Regardless of your choice, you’ll find products that add an enriching, high-quality experience for kids coming to visit your park. Parents and adults will be able to supervise children and stay comfortable with various shade structures and site amenities that make your community park welcoming and attractive.
Contact Little Tikes Commercial to Plan Your Community Playground
At Little Tikes Commercial, we know how important it is to bring communities together. Adding a playground to your park can certainly encourage families to stop by and let their kids explore your whimsical themes and fun, challenging equipment. Your playground will also help support a healthy lifestyle, which has endless benefits.
Whether you want to use separate structures for different age groups or construct a playground that invites a range of kids to your space, we can make the process easy for you. We will provide you with long-lasting, custom products that bring thrills to your playground and make your park the center of attention in your community.
Contact us today to see how we can help you design, plan, budget, and create the playground of your dreams.