Reinvest In Gary Plan – Parks, Phase I Report

Parks Committee Report
Prepared by Samuel Love, committee chair
15 November 2018

TOPIC: Parks

SUMMARY OF ISSUES:

Gary has 57 city parks but not enough staff or resources to maintain the majority of them. “Dirty” “depressing” “unsafe” were frequently mentioned terms. Conditions vary from park to park, but in general basketball courts featured broken boards and rims, were surrounded by weeds, and had cracked surfaces. A frequent complaint was about the lack of open swimming pools and the dangerous conditions caused by the unused pools. Litter was common at most of the parks. Recent park renovations have yielded mixed results, some successful (Marquette Park) and some not (Reed Park was frequently criticized). In some cases residents are tending to the parks themselves. Privatization of some parks features has been considered.

NARRATIVE OF PROGRESS:

Renovation and continuing improvements have made Marquette Park more accessible and attractive. Partnerships with the Student Conservation Association have gotten trees planted in unused park areas at no cost to the department or city. Partnerships with public and private conservation groups has led to ecological improvement at Brunswick Park. Ecological value of the parks acknowledged by leadership and many park users, tho residents near parks have concerns about safety, overgrown lots, aesthetics. Partnerships with arts groups has developed slowly, but has resulted in increased offerings to summer youth service programs. A National League of Cities program, “No Child Left Inside” provides additional support towards creating greenspaces within a 10 minute walk for all residents.

KEY FINDINGS:

Respondents want parks that are safe, attractive, serve multiple uses and users, and appeal to multiple age groups.

Exercise, sports, and playgrounds were the most popular activities, but respondents also appreciated parks as a place for quiet, reflective activities, or for their ecological value.

There is a need for some ecological training for the parks maintenance crew. In the case of Reed Park, workers were unsure what was a native plant and what was a ‘weed’, resulting in an unkempt park.

Continuing partnerships with ecological groups (SCA, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, Field Museum, Ecorealm). Find areas for tree planting but take care to preserve open space for play. Engage the community in this process.

Build relationships with local artists, streamline internal communication to make it easier for artists to use parks and pavilions for workshops and programs.

The Parks Department is conducting its own surveys and planning process. They have been extremely helpful to me during the Magic City planing process. Parks leadership is active, aware, involved, and possesses innovative ideas for change.

Gary Parks Survey
Magic City Comprehensive Redevelopment Plan 2018
out of 35 respondents
How often do you visit your neighborhood park?
1. Everyday 1.6%
2. Almost everyday 1.6%
3. A few times a week 20%
4. Once a week 11.4%
5. Rarely 37.1%
6. Never 20%

If you visit your neighborhood park, how do you get there?
1. Walk 45.7%
2. Bicycle 20%
3. Bus 0%
4. Car 45.7%

What are your favorite park activities (circle all that apply)
1. Art 28.%
2. Exercising 45.7%
3. Festivals/Parties 42.8%
4. Gardening 5.7%
5. Hiking 31.4%
6. Nature 34.2%
7. Playground 57.1%
8. Relaxing/Sitting 34.2%
9. Sports/Athletics 60%
10. Swimming 48.5%

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