The Energized Public Spaces Functional Master Plan for Parks and Mixed Use and Higher Density Areas is a plan that identifies areas with a high need for parks and open spaces.  The plan makes recommendations for opportunities to increase the amount of parks and open spaces in those communities.

According to the draft plan, the growth forecast for the county (2010-2045) shows the highest levels of growth concentrated along I-270 in an area representing only 14% of the County’s land but 72% of the populations and 82% of employment.   This concentration of population creates increasing and unique needs for certain public amenities including parks and open space.

According to the text in the plan “With the increase in density in the growing areas of the County, public parks and open space have become essential to creating livable and healthy communities. The recent trend in real estate development in these areas is to replace lower density residential or commercial development with higher density residential and mixed use buildings where

economically feasible and allowed by zoning. This significant increase in density makes parks and open space areas the “outdoor living rooms” for many of these communities. Without space for large private backyards, public parks and open spaces play an increasingly important role in improving public health and promoting social interaction and social equity.  Access to urban parks is a critical and necessary element of achieving one of the primary County’s goals, to promote community welfare and quality of life.”

The plan further says “The Catch -22 of these trends is that a growing population creates increased demand for parks and open space, but that population also increases competition for land and thus creates a shortage of space to meet the park needs of that same expanding urban population.  Over time, continuing growth will only exacerbate the lack of urban open spaces, giving an urgency to efforts to address the shortfall.  The challenge that this Plan and its innovative, adaptive methodology are designed to solve is how to identify where the highest needs are located for parks and open space and how to use multiple strategies to fill those needs.

The main purpose of the plan is to create spaces where people can meet, play, relax, exercise and enjoy nature in areas where people live and work. 

The goals of the plan are to:

  • Identify where parks and open space are needed most to serve dense populations within walking distance
  • Prioritize parks and open spaces for implementation using social equity and other factors.
  • Propose innovative tools and new funding sources to activate and connect parks, renovate and re-purpose existing facilities, develop new facilities, and create new parks and open spaces.

Christina Sassaki and Brenda Sandberg from the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission Montgomery Parks will be our guest speakers for the November 30 Germantown Alliance meeting at the UpCounty Regional Services Center, Room B in Germantown, MD.  The meeting begins at 7:00pm.