Eyes on the Park

By Bruce Firestone | Architecture

Aug 05

What makes New York’s central park so successful (it’s the most visited park in the US) is, in part, the fact that thousands of people live on its periphery, which not only gives them access to it, it also creates a safer environment because there are so many eyes on the park.

Parks can be dark dangerous places when they are isolated/cut off from neighbors and neighborhoods.

What parks are not is a wilderness area.

How do I know that?

Wildlife flourishes in places where human beings don’t go, not even bird watchers. Places like the exclusion zone around Chernobyl and the DMZ between the two Koreas. For real.

Many architects, landscape architects, community associations, neighborhood activists, environmentalists, urban designers, municipal planners and politicians are not clear on this… they have come to believe parkland design is an environmental issue. It is not.

Parks are meant for active and passive use by human beings, often stuck in urban agglomerations where forest bathing and enjoying nature is as rare as winning an argument with my wife.

Active uses like, for example, being able to get a coffee, tea or muffin or being able to use a w/c that is NOT a porta potty are essential. If you simply have a grassy area and a few trees, that’s not enough.

What does Central Park contain?

-ponds

-police patrols

-medical emergency response teams

-Central Park zoo

-ice skating rink (Wollman Rink)

-playgrounds (21 of them)

-great lawn

-Tavern on the Green restaurant

-Shakespeare in the Park festival

-Delacorte Theater

-large mouth bass fishing

-attend a concert at SummerStage

-visit Belvedere Castle

-row around the Lake

-play beach volleyball or croquet

-bird watch

-race model sailboats

-jogging

-ride the century-old carousel

-watch a puppet show at the Swedish Marionette Theater

-play tennis

-picnic

-make a wish at the Bethesda Fountain

-much more besides.

Prof Bruce’s self-financing Park

I’ve been working on a concept called “eyes on the park” for awhile. The idea is to have people living on the borders of the park and to make parks self-financing. It’s heresy to some but here’s a sketch I did of what it might include. Where you see $$$ in a red circle, these are financial engines.

First to free uses:

-splash pad

-parking

-mountain biking trails

-fenced off-leash dog park

-fruit orchard

-BBQ and picnic area

-games area (eg, chess and backgammon plus board-games)

-sports area–ping pong, croquet, pickle ball, beach volleyball, mini golf, horseshoes, cornhole, bocce, shuffleboard…

-hedge mazes

-soccer pitch/ultimate fields

-tool sharing

-boardwalk.

Revenue-generating land uses:

-food trucks

-artist kiosks

-flea market stalls

-wedding pavilion and event center

-craft hut

-general store

-boat rental

-camping site and glamping yurts

-amphitheater

-coffee, tea and sandwich shop

micro-gardens and bunkies

-residential lots on land leases around the periphery of the park (your eyes on the park).

The idea is to let entrepreneurs run the active uses on long term land leases featuring triple net rent and percentage rent.

Entrepreneurs are likely to run these services more effectively than municipalities and cities, towns, villages, counties, townships, states and provinces can achieve twin objectives too–

  1. obtain higher utilization rates for their parks,
  2. offset some or all (or even generate a surplus) from their parks and rec departments, ie, patch a significant hole in many of their budgets.

FOR REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT AND BUSINESS COACHING THAT’LL HELP YOU PROVIDE FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY FOR 3-GENERATIONS, PLEASE CONTACT:

Bruce M Firestone, B Eng (civil), M Eng-Sci, PhD
Real Estate Investment and Business coach
Century 21 Explorer Realty Inc broker
Ottawa Senators founder
1-613-762-8884
bruce.firestone@century21.ca
twitter.com/ProfBruce
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brucemfirestone.com

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Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Central_Park_-_The_Pond_(48377220157).jpg

Image source: Martin St-Amant (S23678) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6383576

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About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.

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