Park Planning, Design, and Open Space
This page includes information on parks, recreation, and open space planning and design for local governments in Washington State, including general guidelines, standards, and local examples.
Park Planning Guidelines
This section includes general guidelines for developing comprehensive park and recreation plans, including parks and recreation elements of GMA comprehensive plans (RCW 36.70A.070(8))
- Washington State Recreation & Conservation Funding Board: Manual 2 - Planning Policies and Guidelines – Provides a how-to manual for developing a park plan. Local jurisdictions seeking funding from this agency are required to have a plan that is consistent with these guidelines. In particular, see Appendix C: Level of Service Tool and Guide
- Department of Commerce: Growth Management Act Periodic Update – Includes resources and checklists for preparing comprehensive plan updates, including the parks and recreation component
Comprehensive Park and Open Space Plans and Elements
This section includes examples of stand-alone comprehensive park plans, as well as sample parks and recreation elements from GMA comprehensive plans (see RCW 36.70A.070(8)). For guidance on the preparation of the parks and recreation element, see WAC 365-196-440.
Examples of City Park Plans
- Bellevue Parks and Open Space System Plan (2016)
- Burien Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan (2018)
- Issaquah Parks Strategic Plan (2018) – This approach provides a broader vision for the citywide system, as well as specific projects to help achieve that vision
- Kirkland Parks, Open Space and Recreation (PROS) Plan (2021)
- Normandy Park Comprehensive Park Plan (2011)
- Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation Plan Draft (2021)
- Redmond Comprehensive Plan - Parks, Arts, Recreation, Culture, and Conservation Element (2017)
Examples of County Park Plans
- Kitsap County Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan (2018)
- Spokane County Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan (2020)
Examples of Metropolitan Park District Plans
- Fall City Metropolitan Park District Comprehensive Plan 2014-2019
- Si View Metro Parks Comprehensive Parks Plan (2016)
Park Design and Standards
This includes information on general park and recreation level-of-service standards, resource information and local design standards for different types of park development.
- Houseal Lavigne Associates (HLA) Blog: The Importance of Unique Park and Recreation Standards (2010)
- Washington State Recreation & Conservation Office: Planning for Parks, Recreation, and Open Space in Your Community - Step 6: Assess Parks/Open Space/Recreation Needs and Demand (2005) – Addresses park, open space, and recreation level of service standards
Examples of Washington Local Government Design Standards
- Bellingham Design Standards for Park and Trail Development (2018) – Standard specifications for parks and trails
- Mercer Island Luther Burbank Park Community Design Guidelines (2005) – Guidelines for the design of a former county park now owned by the city
- Vancouver-Clark County Park Standards and Performance (2010) – Standards for urban and regional park system
Design of Facilities Resources
- U.S. Access Board Accessibility (ADA) Standards
- Outdoor Developed Areas (2014) – Guidelines that are developed for federal parks and areas
- Recreation Facilities – Requirements for recreation facilities in the ADA and ABA Standards
- National Recreation and Park Association: Design for the Ages (2008) – Encourages recreation and community centers that appeal to multi-generational population
- Oregon State Parks: Developing Sustainable Park Systems in Oregon (2012) – A Component of the 2013-2017 Oregon Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation. Sustainability recommendations for Oregon State and local parks.
- New York (NY) Parks and Recreation: High Performance Landscape Guidelines: 21st Century Parks for NYC (2011) – A comprehensive, municipal design primer for sustainable parks and open space
- National Recreation & Park Association: A Resource Guide for Planning, Designing and Implementing Green Infrastructure in Parks (2017)
Miscellaneous Design Resources
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: Public Playground Safety Handbook (2015) – Guide to safe playground and playground equipment design
- PlayCore: NatureGrounds – A comprehensive program that provides best practice guidelines for creating and retrofitting play environments for parks and school grounds that integrate manufactured play equipment and the living landscape.
- American Sports Builders Association (ASBA) – National organization for builders, designers, and suppliers of materials for athletic facilities. Publications available for purchase and download.
County and Regional Open Space Programs
This section includes selected open space preservation programs, including conservation futures. Conservation futures are a funding source authorized by state statute that may be implemented by counties to preserve lands of public interest (see RCW 84.34.200 - .240).
- Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation Conservation Futures Program – Acquisition program for farm, forest, open space, and recreation lands
- King County Land Conservation Initiatives – An open space and resource lands conservation and acquisition strategy informed by a GIS model
- Mountains to Sound Greenway – Supports conservation and enhancement of the landscape from Seattle across the Cascades to Central Washington
- Pierce County Conservation Futures Program – Includes a process for nominating property for purchase of land or the rights to develop land
- San Juan County Land Bank – Open space acquisition program funded by real estate excise tax, conservation futures, private donations, and grants
- National Recreation & Parks Association: Measuring the Economic Impact of Parks and Recreation Services (2010) – Hands-on guide for preparing economic impact studies that measure the economic return residents receive on park and recreation department investments
- Trust for Public Land: Measuring the Economic Value of a City Park System (2009) – Describes seven attributes of city park systems that provide economic value and are measurable: property value, tourism, direct use, health, community cohesion, clean water, and clean air. It also provides rationale for calculating each value factor, and shows how these value factors can be applied in case studies of five cities.