An article appeared in my inbox this morning, then an email appeared on the same subject: parks – a tool to evaluate accessibility to parks, and parks for teenage girls.
Asbury Park has large and lovely real estate devoted to parks, which has existed since the inception of the city. These tree-filled, “passive” parks are mostly located in only certain neighborhoods, and parks are completely lacking in others. According to The Trust For Public Land, Asbury Park ranks 76%, meaning that 76% percent of people can walk to a park within 10 minutes. That’s not an impressive score in a tiny 1.4 mile sq. city. Boston ranks 100%. Washington 98%, Alexandria, VA is 97%, and NYC is 99%.
Over 20% of people are unable to walk to a park within 10 minutes in Asbury Park, and existing parks are devoid of amenities for people. A park should be a destination, not just a place to pass through.
A “passive park” like the design in the master plan for Sunset Park would be a large, lovely ornament in the city. The design is intended for strolling, or dog walking, just as it was designed in the original plan for the city in the 1870s. It should not be designed that way in 2021. We believe that an Asbury Park is committed to equity and inclusiveness should actively invite everyone to every park in the city.
The underutilized Sunset Park
Basketball courts, skate parks and playgrounds overlook an important demographic: teenage girls. A burgeoning design movement is trying to fix that.
Susannah Walker, co-founder of the newly created British charity Make Space for Girls, saw in Swing Time something that would have delighted her 17-year-old self. “At the end of the summer holidays my friend and I ran out of money,” Walker wrote in a March post. “We had nothing to do and there was nowhere to go. So we’d go and hang out on the swings in the early evening and chat as the light slowly faded into dusk. It was better than sitting around at home.”
She highlights Swing Time to illustrate two points: One, girls love swings. And two, there aren’t enough swings made for teenage girls. “They are almost always placed with the equipment for younger children, so that if teenagers use them they are seen as invaders.”