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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 the social, economic and environmental health of our communities. 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 use by decision-makers and local leaders with oversight and management of 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 that can guide impactful improvements on public spaces.
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:
Facilitators give participants the tools they need 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 the course of 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.
A completed high quality public spaces action plan that can be used to:
This program is designed to engage decision-makers and local leaders, including parks boards and planning commission members, public officials and their staff and members of organizations that provide services, programs or management of public spaces.
Frankfort’s downtown is the ‘heart’ of the community for local residents as well as the location of its central business district. A coalition of people from all walks of life were convened by the mayor’s office to evaluate and improve public spaces for the long-term social, economic and environmental health of Frankfort and Clinton County. The overarching goal is to create a more sustainable community by listening to stakeholder input, collecting data on community assets and using that data to plan public space improvements that move Frankfort forward. After three intensive working sessions, the resulting “Frankfort Public Spaces Action Plan” served as the basis for a $40,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.
~ “City Ramps Up Downtown Revitalization Efforts” – Lafayette Journal & Courier
The Town of Corydon was one of the first participants in the Hometown Collaboration Initiative (HCI) program. After many months of learning and collaboration, the Corydon HCI Team completed their capstone project planning process through collaboration with the Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces team. With Corydon’s bicentennial on the horizon, the Corydon HCI Team wanted to select a project that was not only feasible and sustainable, but one that could have wide-ranging impact on residents and visitors alike. After much consideration and community input, the concept of Bicentennial Park was born. Through their collaboration with EVPS, a site was selected and obtained, desired park attributes were deliberated and a robust action plan was put into place that is guiding the development and $1 million financing of the park.
~ “Fundraising Underway for Bicentennial Park” – The Corydon Democrat
Kara Salazar is the team leader for the EVPS program and co-editor/author of the EVPS program curriculum. Kara serves as Assistant Program Leader and Extension Specialist for Sustainable Communities with Purdue Extension and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. Kara oversees the development of programs to support community planning and sustainable development strategies in communities across Indiana and Great Lakes states.
Daniel Walker is Community Planning Extension Specialist for Purdue Extension and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. His core of expertise lies in municipal level planning and economic development. Daniel is a member of the EVPS team and the Land Use team, and contributes to development and delivery of program content.
Michael Wilcox serves as an EVPS team member and Purdue Extension Community Development Assistant Program Leader. Michael is co-editor/author of the EVPS program curriculum and co-team leader for the forthcoming Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces: Creating Healthy Communities.
Steve Yoder serves as an EVPS team member and Purdue Extension Regional Educator and specializes in natural and environmental resources. Steve is also involved in the Land Use team and the Hometown Collaboration Initiative.
To learn more about Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces and schedule a workshop, please contact: