Urban park networks in small cities
Urban parks have existed for hundreds of years, providing people in cities with a means of escape from their busy lives. Urban parks bring economic, ecological, and social benefits to the city, and can act as a catalyst for rejuvenating a neighborhood. When coupled with other parks in close proximity, urban parks begin to create a network that brings these benefits to the entire city; however, most urban parks are often isolated, limiting the impact of their benefits. The question becomes how to place urban parks in a city to bring the benefits they provide to the population that needs them most. This research examines the components of urban park networks, factoring economic, ecological, and social benefits; through a spatial lens using the spatial logic approach to park planning in a city, a methodology presented in Dr. Emily Talen’s paper “The Spatial Logic of Parks.” While this methodology uses descriptive methods of evaluating a city for park placement and planning based on social need, it does not take into consideration social desire – society’s desire for urban parks in their community. The intention of this research was to discover if the use of a public opinion survey on the existing parks in South Bend, Indiana can be harnessed as a next step to the spatial logic approach, and provide a means of prioritizing the results based on social desire. Using Talen’s methodology, survey data, and the GIS analysis technique of multicriteria evaluation on South Bend, Indiana, the conclusion of this thesis defines a set of guidelines using greatest need and social desire to make parks and their benefits available to the maximum number of residents in a city.