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Small Parks Management Strategies

The National Park Service (NPS) in collaboration with National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) recently completed a study on small urban parks in the National Capital Region (NCR). This Small Parks Management Strategies report builds upon the CapitalSpace plan, which was adopted by NCPC in 2010. CapitalSpace was a multi-agency partnership initiative of NCPC, NPS, and the District of Columbia to develop shared strategies for working together on parks and open space throughout Washington, DC. One of the recommendations from CapitalSpace focused on the planning and management of small parks to transform them into a connected network of successful public spaces. The purpose of the Small Parks Management Strategies report is to assist NPS with developing consistent strategies for improving the approach to the management of small urban parks.

The Small Parks Management Strategies report was a NPS led planning effort in partnership with NCPC. The study identified 292 small parks under the jurisdiction of NPS, ranging from 0.0045 acres to approximately seven acres in size. These parks serve multiple functions, including national and local commemoration, neighborhood parks, playgrounds, traffic circles, street medians and traffic islands. They include Washington's recognizable circles, squares, and triangle parks found at intersections and along diagonal streets and contribute to an urban park system that is unique within the broader national park network. When viewed individually small parks may seem disconnected from the larger open space network, however together they contribute to the historic design framework of Washington DC and collectively help preserve the landscape setting defined by the L'Enfant and McMillian Plans.

The Small Parks Management Strategies study provides an inventory of the parks including an evaluation of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing small parks. It does not make any decisions about how to specifically manage any one park. What it does do, is give the NPS a framework for more coordinated and cohesive management of small parks and the proper tools for Superintendents to make management decisions about small parks.
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