Pocket ParksA Park Fit for Any Space
A pocket park, sometimes called a parkette or mini-park, is a small public park, sometimes with an outdoor playground or fitness equipment, frequently found in vacant municipal lots or small, irregular parcels of land. In some instances, a pocket park is a component of the public space requirement of large building projects, such as commercial office space or multi-tenant housing developments.
Pocket parks are found in urban, suburban and rural areas, and can be designed to promote a specific theme or purpose, such as walking paths or fitness equipment to promote health and wellness, outdoor playground to provide opportunities for children to be more active outside, or public art and sculpture installations to enhance the aesthetic value of the surroundings. In urban areas, where land is scarce and very expensive, a pocket park is often the only option for creating new public spaces like an outdoor playground without large scale development.
By repurposing small tracts of land to be used as pocket parks, communities can provide many public areas in close proximity to multiple neighborhoods. This, in turn, creates opportunities for enhanced social interaction, better health and wellness and increased property values. One study conducted in Greenville, South Carolina found that a pocket park increased the value of nearby homes.
How to Create a Pocket Park
Steps on building a pocket park
The National Recreation and Park Association published a white paper that outlines the following steps to create a pocket park:
- Secure the community's commitment - involve as many neighbors as possible to make the decision-making process more inclusive
- Convene a steering committee - establish leadership roles and assign responsibilities
- Choose a site - consider how the site will be used and develop a maintenance plan
- Plan - develop a strategy for landscaping, park usage and neighborhood maintenance
- Identify partners - enlist the help of local businesses and nonprofits
- Secure funding - look for grant opportunities and funding sources for short term development and long-term sustainability
- Schedule work days - assign a project manager and determine activities in advance
- Plan a work daydedication event - this is a key milestone in the project and essential to recognizing the community and partners
- Implement the maintenance plan - document your plan in writing
- Pursue consistent engagement - maintain communication with the neighborhood to keep everyone interested in the project