Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Open Space, Parks, and Recreation Plan - Hear we go again, or else is there hope?

The last time that there was a plan that had anything to do with the parks was a joke. They did a "master plan" on the four regional parks. I went to the final presentation and stood up to ask a question or two and give my global assessment.

For starters, I had sent them planners (contractors) about 10 pages of notes after reading the first draft of their plan. While a lot had changed between the first draft and the final one -- NONE of my suggestions were visible. So, I asked, where were my suggestions? Could they point to any of them?

Next, I asked them to find the word "coach" anywhere in the plan. It was absent -- fully. They have a parks plan but don't talk about programs and ways when we teach our kids how to play well with one another. Coaching was not only in the back seat to the flora landscape -- it was off the map.

Third, I asked the planners about the swim pools in both Highland Park and Schenley Park. These pools were mentioned, but the one in Riverview was not. But, the Highland Park Pool and the Schenley Park Pool were mentioned in the 'master plan' only because the pools provided a good opportunity for a snack bar and vendors. The pools were popular places for customers for additional sales and income.

With those points in mind, I told the organizers that I would have no problem with their 'master plan' as long as it got a new name and was called a 'lesser plan.' Their work was inferior and of little consequence in areas where we needed our parks the most.

The parks play a big role in being hubs where we go to play, earn and learn about respect, and all get along. We have lots of teen violence. We have problems as there is far too little in these spaces where values are build with a mixing of mentoring, volunteers, leadership, coaching, and PROGRAMS.

We have a long way to go. Perhaps this plan can be better.

The mind leads and the body follow. The past plans have been piss poor. Plans of that quality are sure to lead to outcomes that are what they are.
Residents and Community Group members:

The City of Pittsburgh, through the Department of City Planning, is beginning the process of creating an Open Space, Parks, and Recreation Plan. The Open Space, Parks, and Recreation Plan (OPENSPACEPGH) is one of the initial components of PLANPGH, the City's Comprehensive Plan. There are two surveys that have been posted on Open Space, Parks, and Recreation on the PLANPGH Exchange feature on the PLANPGH Website (http://exchange.planpgh.com/portal ): one for adults and one for youth. I encourage you to fill these out, as by sharing your opinions (and for parents, having your kids share theirs) about Pittsburgh's open space, park, and recreation resources (including what types of programs, facilities, and opportunities are important, where they should be located and how they should be maintained), you will help the City make informed decisions about future vacant land, open space, parks, and recreation efforts.

While you're on the PLANPGH Exchange, please register on the site so that you can be notified of additional opportunities to give your opinions and public meetings or events for PLANPGH. Registration is not necessary to fill out the survey, however. I'd also recommend checking out the PLANPGH mainpage (www.planpgh.com), for more detail about the Comprehensive Plan and some fun facts about the City we call home.

The survey is currently open, and will be open until August 31st, 2010.

Please forward this to your distribution lists, and encourage them to let us know what they want. The more responses we receive from residents to this survey, the more we can understand about the true needs of our City in relation to its parks, recreation, and open space facilities, and ensure that future decisions will be made in the best interests of the City as a whole.

If your organization would like print copies of the survey for homes without internet access or for youth or other programs that you manage, please let me know and I will provide them.

Thanks for your help in helping us envision the future of the City's open space, park, and recreation systems.

Andrew Dash, AICP
Senior Planner
City of Pittsburgh
200 Ross Street, 4th Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15219412.255.0760 – phone
412.255.2838 – fax

Dolores Hanna
Special Project Operations Manager
Department of City Planning
412-255-2561, fax

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