Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Planning for unplanning: parks and recreation

Finding_The_Game by Gwendolyn Oxenham, book coverThe Post has an article, "Rec leagues vs. Pick-up games: two sides of the playing field," about the use of recreation facilities in the city, and how organized leagues with permits for the use of fields trump the use of fields for "unorganized" pick up athletic activity.  The example is soccer.

I understand how government agencies want to minimize their work and conceive of most activities as a regulatory or rationing-type function.  If you have facilities ("Assets") you manage them, and ration their use through permits and fees.

On the other hand, a parks and recreation agency could conceive of its mission as enabling the recreation and parks needs of interests of all demographics, systematically, and stepping in to assist various constituencies/demographics when they way that they are accustomed to using facilities doesn't fit with the standard paradigm.

In basketball, it is not uncommon for court time to be scheduled for "pick up" basketball.  And in swimming, "open swim" time.

In soccer, in DC, at Petworth, and likely other places, DCPR should schedule field use for "pick up" soccer as well, in view of mission goals of serving diverse segments of the population, including those who don't play in leagues.

And in some other jurisdictions, there is more accommodation for this.  In Arlington County although they charge, and in NYC, a group PSNYC / Pickup Soccer NYC has organized the unorganized, at least the English speakng ones...  And this piece from the New York Times, "Pelada: Pickup, the Essence of a Game," references a book, Finding the Game: Three Years, Twenty-five Countries, and the Search for Pickup Soccer on pickup soccer around the world.

Note that this is an issue across recreation and parks planning.  The most organized parks constituencies tend to be people affiliated with team sports and leagues.  Without taking extra steps to ensure that other constituencies are represented, it's very easy for recreation planning to end up focused primarily on team sports.

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At 8:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is that the scenario described in the Post article is not really pick-up soccer, it is a standing game that will use the field at the same time when available. Yes, there should be times available for spontaneous activities, but at the same token, the optimal use of the fields is to schedule usage.

At 1:28 PM, Anonymous Cavan said...

The Post article is horrible. This larger point is the scarcity of fields space, not organized leagues vs. pickup. (Disclaimer- I play soccer in the Tuesday night ZogSports soccer league at Roosevelt HS)

Even more, we need more parks in walking distance of transit. Pickup soccer, for example, doesn't need a full-sized soccer field. A space that's 40 yards by 40 yards would suffice for pickup. It costs money to lay down field turf. Without artificial turf, the constant wear and tear turns a regular grass field into a lumpy dust bowl.

Another thing is that those of us in organized leagues pay for the use of those fields. They cost money to build. While I respect people playing pickup games, good luck getting any sort of user fee out of them.

Maybe you should talk about getting money for field turf in Rock Creek park on 16th street or maybe use some of that empty space at Howard University as temporary pickup space. How about putting some field turf down in Rock Creek Park between Dupont and Georgetown?

These exact same issues play out everywhere, from Arlington County to the University of Maryland.

At 6:30 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

FWIW, no one writes more about parks and parks and recreation planning issues in the city (not so much the region) than me.

Without a master plan, something which I have agitated about for years, these kinds of issues-problems never get addressed.


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