Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Quality and Quantity

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Quality and Quantity

Article excerpt

Before long, the Playground at Marvin Gaye Park will be one very measured and studied facility. When NRPA joined its partners--Washington Parks & People, the D.C. Department of Parks & Recreation, and George Mason University--in the formation of Parks Build Community to help provide the surrounding neighborhoods with their first playground in more than 30 years, the plan was not to simply erect equipment and walk away.

Instead, the equipment was chosen on the basis of how it could contribute to the health and well-being of its users and serve as a model for inner-city planners around the country. With the help of GMU researchers and WP&P staff and interns, use of the playground was studied from every angle while being compared with a similar, unimproved park elsewhere in the area. The results were gratifying, if not surprising, since we all knew anecdotally how parks and playgrounds help build communities. We now have vetted data to support this.

But some metrics are harder to measure, particularly the appreciation and care accorded the playground by residents of the surrounding community. When the all various equipment, surfacing, fencing, and landscaping materialized seemingly overnight last July in this former patch of neglect and disrepair, one couldn't help but wonder about its long-term prospects. …

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