Urban Neighborhoods: Research and Policy

By Ralph B. Taylor | Go to book overview

SIX Planners in the Neighborhood: A Cautionary Tale

Sidney Brower

Research into the use of parks in an inner-city neighborhood in Baltimore showed that the parks were not used because they were not watched over. The research concluded that in order to improve the parks, residents would have to help manage them. A number of innovative ideas about park design and management were suggested. The City obtained a grant from the National Park Service to apply these ideas and test their general validity. There were a number of block groups and associations in the area, and so the grant provided for the creation of a representative community organization. As soon as the community organization was established, it began to demand control over the project. It became involved in a wide range of issues in addition to the parks. The innovative design ideas were ignored and a system of resident management did not evolve. The experience with this project is used to illustrate two different approaches to neighborhood planning; one relies on outside experts in order to produce a desired product, and the other focuses on creating opportunities for local residents to build up their own expertise. These two approaches may incorporate the same elements, but they use different paradigms and they require that the planner play different roles.

It is through their neighborhood association that many city residents first come into contact with professional planners. Some of these planners may work directly for neighborhood associations, but more often they will have

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