District Council Parks Engagement Grants

Research shows that parks and open spaces are essential ingredients in resilient, healthy, and equitable communities—they’re more than just play alone. Critical to the public realm, parks enhance community resilience and make people healthier and happier. They can also spur economic development. Parks have been shown to activate streets, attract residents, and bolster tourism. Community connectors, parks bring us together with our neighbors and provide a space to celebrate arts, our environment, and culture.

To harness the power of parks and open spaces, ULI has partnered with The Trust for Public Land and the National Recreation and Park Association on the 10-Minute Walk. This national campaign works to ensure that everyone in urban America lives within a ten-minute walk to a high-quality park. As part of this effort, ULI offers grants of up to $5,000 to District Councils for activities that advance local parks and open spaces and build member commitment to parks. The goal of these grants is to leverage the passion and engagement of ULI members at the local level to build support for sustained investment in excellent parks and open spaces.

Past Grants

ULI Atlanta is partnering with the City of Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation and Atlanta Public Schools on a pilot program to improve schoolyards and make them accessible to the public via transportation improvements. ULI Atlanta will engage its Technical Advisory Panels Committee and invite key ULI members with appropriate planning and transportation expertise to participate in a workshop focused on pedestrian and bicycle access improvements within the 10-minute walksheds of schoolyards.

ULI Atlanta will cover the registration for outstanding Young Leaders and members in targeted Southeastern geographies for its Chattanooga Crossroads event in Chattanooga, TN. The program will focus on a portion of the city’s comprehensive plan which showcases the benefits of activating parks and open spaces. Participants will learn the how the long-range plans and the investments in the public realm have impacted the character, competitiveness, and development opportunities in downtown Chattanooga. The program will feature presentations from Mayor Andy Berke, Chattanooga Design Studio, River City Company, and others. ULI Atlanta will also develop an Urban Land article to highlight the event.

ULI Boston/New England, as part of the District Council’s Living With Heat initiative, will convene a charrette to develop strategies to mitigate urban heat island effect. Members will work to generate best practices to help landowners, developers, designers, and public officials to protect projects, investments, and communities from risks associated with urban heat island effect and climate change broadly. This project utilizes the Climate-Smart Cities decision-support mapping tool, created through a collaboration between the District Council and The Trust For Public Land.

ULI Chicago partnered with the National Recreation and Park Association to host a 10-Minute Walk training for 10-Minute Walk grantees. ULI Chicago organized a presentation by Kathy Dickhut, Deputy Commissioner of Planning, who highlighted the impact of the 606 trail on housing affordability in the surrounding neighborhoods, as well as lessons learned by the City in order to minimize displacement associated with park or trail investments. ULI Chicago also partnered with Territory NFP to provide mentorship between ULI members and underserved high-school students in Chicago, interested in park and public realm design.

ULI Hawaii is using funds to support research and community engagement to better understand the underutilization of Honolulu’s historic McCoy Pavilion in Ala Moana Park. ULI Hawaii will also convene stakeholders around park re-envisioning, based on their findings. Constructed in the 1930s, then president Franklin Delano Roosevelt dubbed Ala Moana “The People’s Park.” The facilities, which include a sports pavilion, designed by one of the most prominent architects in Hawaii at the time, as well as banyan courts, ponds, and a bowling green, fell into disuse in the 1990s. With the construction of the light rail proximate to the park, and new residential construction, 4,000 additional households are expected—creating a new demand for parks and an opportunity to re-imagine an existing park space.

ULI Houston organized a program around The Business Case for Open Space at the District Council’s yearly Urban Marketplace event, Houston’s largest single-day event focused on topics and issues impacting all parties involved in urban real estate development, on March 27. Speakers included Mary Lawler, Executive Director, Avenue; Sheila Condon, Principal/Owner, Clark/Condon; David Ott, Development Partner, The Hannover Company, and Travis Younkin, Executive Director, Upper Kirby Redevelopment Authority.ULI Houston also organized an interactive 10-Minute Walk booth, staffed by Young Leaders, that will allow attendees to locate parks and understand where park deficits occur in their community, through maps developed by The Trust for Public Land.

ULI Minnesota is convened residents and stakeholders around the land bridge vision, helping to sustain momentum from a March 2018 parks and open spaces Advisory Services Panel. Partners heard from Dr. Assata Richards of Sankofa Research Institute and learned how residents in Houston’s predominantly African-American Third Ward worked with city partners to leverage a $33.6 million public investment in Emancipation Park, a 10-acre recreational space that has served black families since the late 1800s, for community benefit.

ULI North Texas partnered with The Trust for Public Land, Dallas on a 10-Minute Walk booth at the nation’s largest Earth Day celebration in Houston, Texas. Young Leaders from ULI North Texas designed and organized a 10-Minute Walk interactive display, engaging more than 400 community members. Young Leaders spoke with participants about park access in the region, city priorities, and the 10-Minute Walk campaign and shared seed papers as gifts for all participants.

ULI San Diego hosted a member breakfast and workshop that focused on how parks can be an integral piece of economic development. The Case for Open Public Space – Parks as Economic Drivers to Development breakfast featured presentations from Todd Galarneau, Executive Vice President/Principal Planning and Land Development, Meridian Development; Nathan Elliott, Principal at OJB Landscape Architecture; and Mike Hansen, Director of the Planning Department at the City of San Diego, who shared lessons on how developers, designers and park experts can make parks and green spaces more successful, livable, and financially sustainable.

ULI Virginia will host its first annual conference, Creating and Sustaining Happiness in Virginia Communities, on March 27, 2019. The event which includes Atlanta Beltline co-founder Ryan Gravel, author Peter Kageyama (For the Love of Cities), and researcher June Williamson (Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs). Nearly 200 people attended.

ULI Washington is supporting the Montgomery County Parks speakers series, titled Inclusion, Diversity, and Social Equity, and a local ULI Member workshop in 2019. Speakers include Sheema Hai, a consultant who offers training sessions at both the state and national level on topics related to diversity and cultural sensitivity; Albert Arevalo, program coordinator for Latino Outdoors; Mikah Meyer, who uses social media to document his experience visiting all U.S. National Parks and promote his role as openly gay male; Sangita Chari, program manager, National Park Service Office of Relevancy, Diversity and Inclusion; and Ed McMahon, ULI Senior Fellow, amongst others.

For More Information

For more information visit DC Resources, or email parks@uli.org

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *