Grounded In Safety

As competition escalates on the court so too can tempers. In one of our parks one tragic incident reinforced the need to separate cars from people under certain conditions. A basketball game turned tragic when a young man became so angry over the events in a game that he walked a few short steps to his car and returned with a handgun. Seconds later another young man was shot and died.

Territorial Reinforcement

Activity Nodes – Consider carefully the location of parking lots in relation to activity components. So too, consider activity nodes in proximity to other park components. Twenty-something male basketball games can and often do generate some blue language. Don’t locate children’s playgrounds nearby. Moms won’t appreciate it and your staff will hear about it often.

Restrooms — Where possible, separate free standing restrooms from parking areas. This will help eliminate deviant activity in these facilities. Design interior and exterior surfaces to be durable, vandal resistant and to facilitate maintenance and odor control.

Activity mix –- Design park spaces for overlapping and concurrent uses. This will encourage greater length of stay by park users, thus reducing opportunities for abusers.

Shade -– During hot weather months shade in parks is critical to length of stay by patrons. If the landscaping does not provide it naturally, build it in using shade canopies over playgrounds and bleacher/spectator areas. Don’t forget to shade the areas where mom sits to watch the tots on the playground.

Site Furnishings -– Comfortable seating areas with water fountains close by are another way to increase length of stay by park users. Consider installing park benches in a way that several are installed end to end. This allows larger families and groups to be able to sit together. Unfortunately park benches in some of our urban settings have become sleeping stations for vagrants. If you select benches with arm rests this will discourage that. Don’t forget the shade.

As our urban spaces become more populated CPTED principals make good sense. Employing them will increase length of stay by park users who will use your parks for their intended purpose. Their increased satisfaction with our public parks is really what we are all about. Give it a try.

William Potter is the parks and recreation division manager for Orange County Parks, Florida. He can be reached at

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