Department of Architecture and Planning
NED University of Engineering and Technology
TOPIC: PARKS AND RECREATION FACILITIES
The theme of current lecture on is Parks and Recreational facilities. In order to understand this theme it is important to know about the terms; park and recreation. The term park means a piece of open land for recreational use in an urban area or it is a large area of land preserved in its natural state as public property; then there are laws that protect the wildlife in this park. The term recreation means activities which are relaxing to humans or provide diversions from their normal routine. In town planning provision of parks and recreational facilities is a part of an overall urban planning scheme whether a new city is made or improved an existing one. However the provision of parks and recreational facilities is not an easy task and before understanding the process of its provision it is also significant to have clear understanding of both the concepts of Parks and Recreation. In the following these are described in details.
WHAT IS A PARK?
A park is a protected area, in its natural or semi-natural state or planted, and set aside for human recreation and enjoyment. It may consist of, rocks, soil, water, flora and fauna and grass areas. Wilderness parks are intact and undeveloped areas used mainly by wild species. Many parks are legally protected by law. Protected wilderness zones are required for some wild species to survive. Some protected parks focus mainly on the survival of a few threatened species, such as gorillas or chimpanzees. The term Park is also used for many other meanings for instance the term park is also used in reference to industrial areas, often termed as industrial parks. Some technology research areas are also called research parks. Small environmental areas, often part of urban renewal plans, are called pocket parks. The word park may also be used in community names, such as Oak Park or College Park. Sometimes the active recreational aspect may be expressed in the extreme of naming as an amusement park, usually privately owned. A car park is an area of land or a building in which cars are parked. An amusement park, or theme park is a generic term for a collection of rides and other entertainment attractions assembled for the purpose of entertainment. Thus; the term park has various uses and meanings however the parks can be divided mainly in two categories i.e. Government owned or operated parks and private parks.
GOVERNMENT-OWNED OR OPERATED PARKS:
There are three main types of Government owned or operated parks i.e. National Park, Sub National Parks and Urban Parks.
A national park is a reserve of land, usually, but not always declared and owned by a national government, protected from most human development and pollution. National parks are protected areas as established by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The largest national park in the world is the Northeast Greenland National Park, which was established in 1974. In the United States the concept of preserving landscapes for the pleasure of the people was established on June 30, 1864, when President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill creating the Yosemite Grant.
A policy of preservation, rather than co-usage as in the National Forests, where grazing, farming and logging are licensed, was implemented four decades later during the presidential administration of Teddy Roosevelt, and Yosemite became a national park. Tourism and, later, recreation were the intended purposes of the lands Roosevelt set aside in the system. John Muir was instrumental in this effort. These parks were termed national parks and today are looked after by the U.S. National Park Service. U.S. state governments have also set aside land to preserve for the enjoyment of the public. There are also national parks in many other countries.
In Federal systems, many parks are managed by the local levels of government, rather than by the central government. In the United States these are called state parks and in Canada provincial or territorial parks, except in Quebec where they are known as National Parks.
A park is an area of open space provided for recreational use, usually owned and maintained by a local government. Parks commonly resemble savannas or open woodlands, the types of landscape that human beings find most relaxing. Grass is typically kept short to discourage insect pests and to allow for the enjoyment of picnics and sporting activities. Trees are chosen for their beauty and to provide shade. The world's first public park is claimed to be Peel Park, Salford, England opened on 22 August 1846. Park can be divided into active and passive recreation. Active recreation is that which require intensive development and often involves cooperative or team activity, including playgrounds, ball fields and skate parks.
Passive recreation is that which emphasizes the open-space aspect of a park and which involves a low level of development, including picnic areas and trails. Organized football matches take place in parks. Many smaller neighborhood parks are receiving increased attention and valuation as significant community assets and places of refuge in heavily populated urban areas. Neighborhood groups around the world are joining together to support local parks that have suffered from urban decay and government neglect. A linear park is a park that has a much greater length than width. A typical example of a linear park is a section of a former railway that has been converted into a park (i.e. the tracks removed, vegetation allowed to grow back). Parks are sometimes made out of oddly shaped areas of land, much like the vacant lots that often become city neighborhood parks.
An urban park, also known as a municipal park or a public park or open space (United Kingdom), is a park in cities and other incorporated places to offer recreation and green space to residents of and visitors to the municipality. The design, operation and maintenance is usually done by government, typically on the city level, but may occasionally be contracted out to a private sector company. The oldest Urban Park in the world, Phillips Park, is located in the English city of Manchester. Common features of municipal parks include playgrounds, hiking, running and mixed use trails or paths, bridle paths, sports field and courts, public restrooms, boat ramps and/or picnic facilities depending on the budget and natural features available.
In The Politics of Park Design: A History of Urban Parks in America, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1982), Professor Galen Cranz identifies four phases of park design in the U.S. In the late 19th century, large tracts of land on the outskirts of cities were purchased by city governments to create "pleasure grounds": semi-open, charmingly landscaped areas whose primary purpose was to allow city residents, especially the workers, to relax in nature. As time passed and the urban area grew around the parks, land in these parks was used for other purposes, such as zoos, golf courses and museums. These parks continue to draw visitors from around the region and are considered regional parks because they require a higher level of management than smaller local parks. According to the Trust for Public Land, the three most visited municipal parks in the United States are Central Park in New York, Lincoln Park in Chicago, and Balboa Park in San Diego, respectively.
In the early 1900s, according to Cranz, U.S. cities built neighborhood parks with swimming pools, playgrounds and civic buildings, with the intention of Americanizing the immigrant residents. In the 1950s, when money became available after World War II, new parks continued to focus on both outdoor and indoor recreation with services such as sports leagues using their ball fields and gymnasia. These smaller parks were built in residential neighborhoods, and tried to serve all residents with programs for seniors, adults, teens and children. Green space was of secondary importance. As urban land prices climbed, new urban parks in the 1960s and after have been mainly pocket parks. These small parks provide greenery, a place to sit outdoors, and often a play area for children. All four types of park continue to exist in urban areas. Because of the large amount of open space and natural habitat in the former pleasure grounds, they now serve as important wildlife refuges, and often provide the only opportunity for urban residents to hike or picnic in a semi-wild area. However, these parks can be targeted by city managers or politicians as sources of free land for other uses; Partly for this reason, some of these large parks have "friends of X park" advisory boards that help protect and maintain their semi-wild nature. The largest area of public parks in any city in North America is the North Saskatchewan River valley parks system in Edmonton.
Private parks are owned by individuals or businesses and are used at the discretion of the owner. There are a few types of private parks, and some which once were privately maintained and used have now been made open to the public. The most prominent of them may be Hunting Parks. Hunting parks originally referred to an area maintained as open space where residences, industry and farming were not allowed, often originally so that nobility might have a place to hunt such as medieval deer parks.
These were known for instance, as deer parks (deer being originally a term meaning any wild animal). Many country houses in Great Britain and Ireland still have parks of this sort, which since the 18th century have often been landscaped for aesthetic effect. They are usually a mixture of open grassland with scattered trees and sections of woodland, and are often enclosed by a high wall. The area immediately around the house is the garden.
In some cases this will also feature sweeping lawns and scattered trees; the basic difference between a country house's park and its garden is that the park is grazed by animals, but they are excluded from the garden. In some countries, especially the United Kingdom, the concept of the country park was popular in the 1970s, and many such parks were established with government support during that time. Country parks are often located near to urban populations, and provide recreational facilities typical of the countryside rather than the town.
WHAT IS RECREATION?
Recreation is one (not the only) kind of stress management. Recreation or fun is the expenditure of time in a manner designed for therapeutic refreshment of one's body or mind. While leisure is more likely a form of entertainment or rest, recreation is active for the participant but in a refreshing and diverting manner. As people in the world's wealthier regions lead increasingly sedentary life styles, the need for recreation has increased. The rise of so called active vacations exemplifies this. A few individuals view recreation as largely non-productive, even trivial. Excessive recreation is not considered healthy, and may be labeled as escapism. However, research has shown that recreation contributes to satisfaction, and that the stress management aspects of it contribute to quality of life, health and wellness, happiness, and that the use of recreation as a diversion may have clinical applications to individuals with chronic pain and other health impairments.
TYPES OF RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES:
There are various types of recreational activities such as art, computer games, cycling, dancing, Drawing, Eating and drinking, Hobbies, Hunting and fishing, Kite flying Music, Martial arts, Partying, Pet ownership, Reading a book, Recreational drug use, Sexuality and Dating, Sledding, Shopping, Singing, Sports and exercise, Travel and tourism Texting, Using the internet, Video games, Visiting an amusement park, Watching movies, Yoga, Painting. In recent years, more exciting forms of recreation have received more attention, such as skiing, snowboarding, bungee jumping, sky diving, hang gliding, paintball, rock climbing, backpacking, canyoning, caving, BASE jumping, adventure tourism and motor sport.
PROVISION OF PARKS AND RECREATIONAL FACILITIES IN TOWN PLANNING:
One of the most critical components in maintaining and enhancing a community's quality of life is its system of parks, recreation, and open space. The careful location of parks and open space areas and preservation of the Town's natural resources as a complement to existing development can be a useful tool in guiding the Town's development into a logical, orderly and environmentally sensitive pattern. In addition to recreational and aesthetic benefits, open spaces provide a framework for various land uses. Properly located, they become boundaries and buffers between conflicting uses of land and a nucleus for building neighborhood areas. Natural features can be preserved as valuable scenic and environmental attributes of the Town.
A park system and recreational program can also go a long way toward resolving the age-old problem of a community offering nothing for young people to do. In order to provide parks and recreational facilities at first an inventory of existing Town parks and opens space areas is made. For instance in Karachi one of the first things that can be pointed out is that there are a fairly large number of parks and the people overwhelmingly use these parks. These two findings suggest that while Karachi has a lot of acreage for parks, much of it is undeveloped and/or underutilized. This represents an opportunity to proactively improve the availability of Parks and Recreation facilities/programs.
Recommended improvements as desirable by the citizens of Karachi included such things as a playground, bathrooms, water fountain, and picnic facilities. These are all amenities which are quite necessary that features the public desires, but that these amenities somehow fall short of their expectations. Perhaps there needs to be more of a particular amenity or perhaps another is simply in need of modernization and/or repair. The Visioning process identified the need for Karachi is to develop a park system in each town and union council. One impediment to this goal is the ownership of the parks and open spaces in Karachi.
There are a number of Town Parks, quasi-public parks and facilities, and, being the mega city and home to the largest population base, there are numerous issues such as encroachment, unavailability of due care to existing open spaces and parks. There are also private or semi-private recreational spaces like the golf courses, clubs and gyms etc. A park system would consider all of these lands and evaluate them as a whole as to their effectiveness in meeting the recreational needs of the residents of Karachi and environs. A second factor inhibiting the effective development of a coordinated park system is the way in which these spaces and facilities are managed. There is a Director General Parks in Karachi Municipal Corporation with not much additional staff and part time assistance or community backing which is the key factor in regular maintenance and management of existing parks and recreational facilities.
One step toward providing more direction and more active participation in planning, acquiring, and improving Karachi's parks was taken recently by the City District Government Karachi (CDGK) in the form of road improvements and construction of signal free corridors in the city. However, there is still much work to be done as this organization of city is still struggling with determining its role and how it relates to the Karachi Master Plan 2020, in whom Law vests the authority to make "proposals for the most appropriate and desirable patterns for the general location, character, and extent of parks and recreation areas for specified times as far into the future as is reasonable. Nevertheless, having a group dedicated to examining and making recommendations on park issues shall be a positive step towards the development of a coordinated Town-wide Park system.
One area, in which it is crucial for the CDGK to work hard, is the planning for future park sites. There must be a visioning committee to make several recommendations in this area. There must be a detailed map of Karachi with its complete boundaries, maps of towns and maps of union councils where parks are graphically depicted. These maps shall be publicly available for the citizens of Karachi as the locations reserved for parks so as they may create a check and balance system and cry for parks and recreational facilities if required. The following recommendations for future parks are highlighted for the reference.
To provide a coordinated system of parks that meet the recreational needs of all of Karachi's residents.
Create/preserve public access and recreational opportunities in every town and union council. Increase funding for the operation of a Parks and Recreational Facilities. Develop more of the parks which already exist in Karachi. Identify a site or sites for regional parks in future for annexation areas of Karachi. Develop Karachi's parks as a coordinated system in order to insure that all areas of City are equitably served with parks and that a variety of recreational opportunities are provided. Work with all town and union council administration to coordinate Town and Union Council Park Planning and eliminate unnecessary duplication of services. Examine and refine, if necessary, the policy of requiring usable park/open space during development review and approval. Provide for the contribution of fees in lieu of parks in subdivisions where such land is not available or is not needed due to the lack of appropriate lands or the proximity of other suitable parks or open spaces.
The CDGK and all the towns should increase funding to Parks and Recreational facilities of approximately 2% of the budget. Town staff should rely upon the mapped recommendations contained in the Master Plan 2020 for future park lands during the development review process in order to obtain necessary lands for future larger-scale parks. The Planning and Zoning Commission shall be made and it should work with the D.G Parks to determine which of Karachi's existing parks should be improved and what types of improvements are needed therein as well as to develop a plan for future park sites. The CDGK should meet and coordinate planning efforts with Towns up until Union Council level in order to enhance/increase recreational opportunities available to city residents and in return to provide Karachi's fair share of Parks and Recreational Facilities. All the towns should utilize monies collected as fees-in-lieu of providing parks and open space for the acquisition of new parks and the improvement and/or maintenance of existing undeveloped or underdeveloped parks.
 Salford City Council: Parks in Broughton and Blackfriars Retrieved on 2008-09-03 ; Papillon Graphics' Virtual Encyclopaedia of Greater Manchester: The Campaign for City Parks in Manchester and Salford Retrieved on 2008-09-06 ; University of Salford: Peel Park Retrieved on 2008-09-07