Parks & Playgrounds Q&A

Q: Have you seen the need for a separate

small dog area in dog parks?

A: No. I have seen several dog parks with

separate small dog areas included and

have never seen a dog in them, but I have

seen small dogs in the big dog areas at

these same dog parks.

This is not to say

that a small dog area is never used, but

most dog owners (big or small) want

their dogs to socialize with other dogs as

well as socializing themselves with other


If the dogs and people are not in

the small dog area the small dogs for the

most part will not be there either.

Randy Burkhardt

Q: Is there a more economical way to

provide bags to pick up dog waste?

A: Yes. There are several designs of bag

dispensers out there now that utilize

PVC pipe and grocery bags that are provided

by the users. I feel that this will

work as a supplement to the commercial

bags that we provide in our dog parks,

but we would not want to rely solely on

the users to provide the bags.

Our maintenance

and ranger staff check the bags

daily and refill the commercial dispensing


If the users were relied upon

solely to furnish the bags there would be

no way to monitor if there was a need for

more bags, and if no bags are present

users cannot be expected to clean up

their dog’s waste.

Randy Burkhardt

Q: Is there a way to keep the turf in good

condition in dog parks that are used all

day long?

A: Yes. We found that by thinking of the

dog park as a sports field and treating

them as such we have been able to keep

our turf in reasonably good condition.

This includes installing irrigated blue

grass turf and maintaining as we would

any of our sports fields.

We also split our

dog parks in to two sides, only having

one side open at a time and rotating from

one side to the other. This allows our

maintenance staff to work on getting one

side to recover through aeration, fertilization

and over seeding when needed while

the other side is open to users.

We do not

have a set rotation schedule, but allow

our maintenance staff to make that decision

based on the condition of the turf.

Randy Burkhardt

Q: Naming of parks can be an interesting,

political and complicated process.

What process do you have to name a


A: We have a rapidly growing park system

in Wisconsin’s fastest growing city of

25,000. Our growth is headed for

35,000+ by the year 2020, and with this

growth we will continue to acquire more

parkland as we have in the past several


Up until three years ago, the

responsibility of naming parks being

accepted into our park system was primarily

under my direction.

Prior to that

time, parks were primarily named after

the name of the development they were

in, such as Royal Oak Park, which was in

the Royal Oak development.

As a result,

upon arriving in my position over 26

years ago, I inherited a parks system that

had park names of Royal Oak 1, Royal

Oak 2 and Royal Oak 3. Needless to say

these names didn’t last long as I developed

a re-name the park contest with the

elementary school located in the neighborhood

(also called Royal Oak).


contest worked well. During the past several

years, we have taken on several more

park areas and have tried to be creative in

naming these new parks by sponsoring

additional name the parks contests in the

schools, having the new development

residents submit names for their neighborhood

park or having staff submit

names for consideration by our Parks,

Recreation & Forestry Commission.

Contest winners were rewarded with season

passes to our family aquatic center.

Various degrees of success with this

method resulted.

I developed our Parks

Naming Policy that was adopted in 2002

that would govern existing and new

parks and special use areas within a park

that were not named, such as ball diamonds,

skateboard facilities, and so on.

With the input of several of my professional

colleagues that I asked for assistance

from, this process came to its final


Included within the Parks

Naming Policy are sections on the

Purpose, Authorization, Objectives,

Qualifying Names, Naming Process of

Existing Un-named Facilities, Naming

Process of New Facilities and Signs,

Plaques and Markers.

The policy

described here sets a wide range of criteria

for what is and is not an acceptable

name, along with submitting the justification

for the name.

We have used it

three times to date with the names of

Orfan Community Park, Stoneridge

Estates Community Park and Windy

Ridge Neighborhood Park emerging as

the park names selected.

In the interest of

space for this publication, please contact

me at

and I will send you a copy of our Park

Naming Policy for your use, review and

adaptation to your agency.

Robert M. Holling

Q: What are the key components of a

successful trail development plan?

A: Here are some important considerations

when preparing a trail development


Create a “Trails Community”—

Assess the user market, trends, resources

and potentials. Identify and work with

public officials, residents, trails users,

landowners, businesspeople and other

stakeholders to build an inspiring vision.

Consider the Trail Experience and

Resources—A trail is more than getting

from here to there. It is an experience.

Consider the five senses and what using

the trail will look like, feel like, sound

like, smell like, and so forth.


the impact of the trail on the surrounding

environment, both natural and human.

Will the trail be a good neighbor to

wildlife and adjacent properties? Thank

about the trail corridor and leaving it better

than you found it.

Planning and Design Excellence—

Always employ state-of-the-art planning

and design for a trail that is enjoyable,

safe, durable and maintainable.


must always be foremost and consult

qualified engineers who know bicycle

facility design if bikes will use the trail.


shared-use paths become increasingly

popular there is a need to continue to

perfect design and management

approaches to maximize the health and

recreational benefits of trails while reducing

conflicts and the risk of accidents and


Adhere to nationally and locally

established guidelines and standards

such as the AASHTO Guide to the

Development of Bicycle Facilities.

Do More with Less—Plan to work

effectively with the available resources

and make the project happen. This

includes building partnerships and

alliances, creating pilot projects and

inspiring the community with a great


Realistically address costs for both

development and maintenance and

where those funds will come from.


let costs discourage you, though. What is

the cost to a community in terms of

health and fitness, quality of life, property

values, and economic development of

not having a first-rate trail system when

so many communities now have them?

Plan and Design for Safety, Usability,

Sustainability and Maintainability—

Design for accessibility. Always consider

operations and maintenance. Provide for

wayfinding and meet safety standards.

Robert Searns, AICP, is a founding

owner of The Greenway Team, Inc. a

Denver-based firm that plans, designs and

develops trails. He is also Vice President of

American Trails Inc., a non-profit organization

dedicated to providing information and

the promotion of trails and greenways.

Q: How do I choose the correct surfacing

for my trail?

A: First, always consult a professional

designer and engineer as required before

planning and laying out your trail.


surface specification will vary depending

on several considerations. These include

types of recreational activities the trail

will support, accessibility, field conditions,

safety, affordability and operations

and maintenance.

Types of recreational

activities will be the first determining

factor since, of course. For example, narrow

tire bicycles and roller-skates will

require paving.

Note that in some states,

projects funded by federal transportation

enhancement money may require paving

to meet commuter transportation objectives.

One growing concern regarding

paving, however, is that it may promote

high bicycle speeds and accordingly

increased conflicts and hazards.

A key

step in the planning process is to work

with community groups, trail users and

other stakeholders to identify the range of

activities the trail should accommodate.

A paved trail will generally better accommodate

accessibility, including people in

wheelchairs, but granular stone (“crusherfines”)

and other prepared surfaces may

also be suitable.

Consult accessibility

information Web sites such as the National

Center on Accessibility at www.nca


the advent of the mountain bike and alltrack

bikes, a granular stone or crusherfine

trail may be adequate for a multiuse

trail. Though when field conditions,

such as steeper grades or areas prone to

flooding or washout exist, a paved surface

may be preferred.

Product life and operations

and maintenance are also important

considerations. Concrete, while most

costly, has the longest life span (20 years

or more) with asphalt second (5-10 years

or more with seal coating required).

There are other products such as soil stabilization

to consider where a resin is

used with aggregate or on-site material to

create a durable surface.

A natural dirt

surface for hiking paths or single trail

mountain biking may be perfectly adequate

with proper drainage and corridor


When planning or design

trails the include bicycle use consult the

Guide for the Development of Bicycle

Facilities published by the American

Associate of State Highway and Transportation

Officials (AASHTO).

Robert Searns

Q: What are considerations in designing

a handrail?

A: This response is informational only. A

qualified engineer should be consulted

and designs prepared in accordance with

specific field conditions.

Thank you to

Bruce Landis and Theodore Petritsch of

Sprinkle Consulting, a Florida-based

engineering consulting firm for their

assistance with this item.


what Bruce and Theo suggest: The Guide

for the Development of Bicycle Facilities (AASHTO) recommends 42 inches for

minimum railing height for all applications

(bridges, embankments with

greater than 3:1 slope and less than 5 feet

lateral separation from edge of pathway).

The AASHTO Bridge Manual specifies 54

inches (for bridges). If one is designing a

bridge that will carry motor vehicle traffic

(as well as bicycles), consider the 54

inches height... otherwise (for embankment

situations) use the 42 inches from

the Bike Guide.

Regarding gaps in the

hand railing, the understanding is that

the 4-inch sphere minus size is used

when you need to shield a bike/pedestrian

way from a hazard. That is, no opening

in the rail is larger than the size that

would pass a 4” sphere.

The three-rail

type hand railing is now known as “guide

rail” in some states and, in those states, is

used to “protect” minor drop-offs. Some

specifications have defined this as less

than 30 inches.

Some engineers believe

there is no compelling case for a rub rail

attached to a guardrail. There is also concern

that if you hit the rub-rail, bicycle

steering could, in most cases, be immediately

and adversely impacted and it is

hard to determine a uniform height.


example, handlebars for kids’ bikes are

lower than those for adult bikes and

recumbent bikes have even lower handlebars.

For further information visit the

American Trails Inc. Web Site at Another helpful

resource is Trails for the Twenty First

Century, available from Island Press.

Robert Searns

Bryan BuchkoComment