Breathing New Life Into An Old Park

Have you ever heard the saying, “It all started with a simple idea”?

Architects brainstorm ideas for revitalizing a park.

Don’t most great things that happen originate as a thought inside someone’s head? Once that person tells another, the thought gains momentum, and as more people hear about the idea, they start to take action.

Before long, the idea becomes reality, and something great is born.

Recently, a good friend of mine came to me with an idea. She and another landscape architect were in the beginning stages of designing a community garden at a city park in my neighborhood.

The park has fallen into disrepair over the years and has become a haven for the local transient population. Many people who live in the neighborhood use the park on the weekends, but have expressed concerns for their safety after dusk.

Some of the local business owners in the area came together and petitioned the city Parks Department to clean up and rehabilitate the park by adding new amenities and lighting. But in this economy, the department’s budget has been cut and money just isn’t available.

Not to be dissuaded, the local business owners reached out to a local landscape architect who is known for creating community gardens and asked for help. In a matter of weeks, she put out the call to a few of her colleagues across the city, and that is how a group of passionate designers came together to make something good.

Tuesday night, our design team met and held a design charrette utilizing ideas and thoughts submitted by members of the local village alliance organization. In a matter of hours, we vetted the ideas, spread out the aerial photos covered with trace, grabbed a few Sharpie markers, and let the ideas flow.

It wasn’t long before bubbles turned into shapes and a concept was born.

In the days that followed, a few of us refined the graphics, prepared a graphic layout, and found photographs of local park amenities that we will try to incorporate.

As you are reading this, I am most likely putting the finishing touches on our concept display board.

Next Tuesday, we will present our concept to the local village alliance at their monthly meeting. After they have an opportunity to give us their thoughts, we will make revisions and take our concept back to the Parks Department and seek their approval to move forward with forming a community working group to give insight to the park rehabilitation and begin fundraising efforts.

While it’s still uncertain whether or not our efforts will be fruitful, we are committed to doing everything we can to try to make our community a better place. I will keep you posted over the coming months with our progress, and hopefully soon our run-down neighborhood park will be reborn into something greater.

Have you ever worked on a volunteer project such as this? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to leave a comment below, send me a tweet, or even an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great weekend!

Boyd Coleman is a landscape architect in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached on twitter at @CDGLA or email: