Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Passion Play

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Passion Play

Article excerpt

Sometimes it's easy to get the feeling that people take their parks for granted. For example, in my neighborhood, we have a modest little park with a softball field, playground, tennis court and basketball court. Before I came to NRPA, I rarely thought about how it was mowed, what factors went into selecting the playground equipment or how it came to exist in that particularly hilly location. Of course, now that I am in the parks field, instead I wonder about micro-details such as, "How much did that memorial bench cost?" or "Who inspected that old tree and decided it had to go?" and "Did that softball team reserve the field online?" But I admit that previously, this little park was just a nice neighborhood amenity to me and hardly the focus of strong emotions--and I bet most of my neighbors feel the same.

But when people sense that their parks are threatened in some way, the passion comes out. Just ask Mayor Ed Lee in San Francisco, where an issue as seemingly trivial as which coffee trucks can serve which parks can spark weeks of public debate. Or take the case of Union Square Park in New York, where a move to convert a historic pavilion into a restaurant brought about legal action to stop it from taking over even a small percentage of public space. …

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