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.
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
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
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.
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 email@example.com
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
Types of recreational
activities will be the first determining
factor since, of course. For example, narrow
tire bicycles and roller-skates will
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.
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.
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
— Robert Searns
Q: What are considerations in designing
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.
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
www.americantrails.org. Another helpful
resource is Trails for the Twenty First
Century, available from Island Press.
— Robert Searns