Community Planning

Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces

Public spaces play a vital role in all our lives. They are the paths we bike on, the public parks we play in, and the town centers where we shop. Decisions about how to design and manage these spaces can have long-term impacts on our communities social, economic and environmental health. The Purdue University Extension program, Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces, addresses public spaces and their role in enhancing the quality of place by helping regions, communities, and neighborhoods plan and prepare for a sustainable future. The Indiana-based curriculum is designed for decision-makers and local leaders overseeing and managing community public spaces, such as parks boards and planning commission members, public officials and their staff, and members of organizations that provide services, programs, or management of public spaces. The program provides a framework for collecting data on community assets and using that data to design a high-quality plan to guide impactful improvements in public spaces.

Collaborative Planning for Community-Specific Public Spaces Projects

Collaborative activities are used throughout a one-day workshop to identify best practices for improving public spaces to start the Enhancing process. An emphasis is placed on forming partnerships to achieve desired community goals. Purdue Extension facilitators walk participants through the process of:

  • Collecting data on community assets;
  • Planning improvements to public areas; and
  • Integrating those plans with larger community programs and goals.

Facilitators give participants the tools to design, implement and evaluate community-specific public spaces projects. A companion Indiana-based curriculum connects decision-makers with additional how-to resources. Follow-up working group meetings provide the resources and technical support needed to plan and implement projects tailored to individual communities.

The Enhancing facilitation process can take approximately 15-20 hours (or more) over three to six months. The program combines data collection and analysis with inclusive public deliberation to guide the design of a high-quality action plan that can result in sustainable and impactful improvements for public spaces and, ultimately, an enhanced quality of life.

Appreciative Inquiry Process

Program Takeaways

A completed high-quality public spaces action plan that can be used to:

  • comprehensive plan updates;
  • fundraising initiatives;
  • parks and recreation master plan updates; and
  • other community planning efforts for parks and public spaces.

Target Audiences

This program is designed to engage decision-makers and local leaders, including parks boards and plan commission members, public officials and their staff, and members of organizations that provide services, programs, or management of public spaces.

To learn more, contact a member of the campus team listed below. We will also connect you with your local county Extension office to develop a program that fits your planning needs.

Kara Salazar
Assistant Program Leader for Community Development

Daniel Walker 
Community Development Regional Educator 

Michael Wilcox
Community Development Program Leader 

Steve Yoder
Community Development Regional Educator

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