In our previous two blog posts, we kicked off our series “How to Plan a Neighborhood Park Your Community Will Love” by reviewing the basic principles of park design and strategies for building support among your residents.
Today, in the final post of the series, we roll up our sleeves and get into the project planning phase, where you’ll create the plan that will take you from “square one” all the way through to your opening day … and beyond.
Below we’ve given you some general guidelines for planning your park project, but this list is by no means comprehensive. If you haven’t managed a project like this before, you might want to consider hiring a consultant to help you get started and to provide guidance along the way. You may also want to look into project-management software applications, which make it easy to track your progress and keep all your documentation in one place.
Set Your Goal
Now that you have a clear concept of the park you want to build and have discussed it with your residents, the next step is to set your overall goal. Follow the lead of the best project managers and set a goal that’s SMART:
- Specific: Be very specific about what the end result of your project will be. How large will your park be? What amenities will be there? How will it serve your community? Who will benefit from it? What impact will it have on property values and demographics?
- Measurable: How will you know when you’ve arrived at your goal? What criteria will you meet? How will you measure your progress along the way?
- Achievable: Give the amount of time, money, and other resources available, can you and your team achieve this goal as you’ve defined it? If not, you might need to make some adjustments.
- Relevant: How will this park serve your community? Be sure to consider its impact in the near and distant future as well as the present.
- Time bound: When do you aim to have your park completed? It’s true that delays happen due to weather and other factors, but it’s important to have a completion date in mind. Remember, you can always adjust it if necessary.
Map out the significant achievements — the milestones — that will mark major steps in progress toward your goal. For your park, these might include preparing the ground, installing amenities, and completing landscaping.
Build a Deliverables List
Break down each milestone into specific tasks. For example, the milestone “Install Playground,” will include tasks such as applying for permits, selecting a builder, choosing a model, choosing the safety surfacing, scheduling installation, and other tasks. Be as specific and thorough as you can.
Build a Timeline
Now gather your list of tasks (you’ll have a lot of them) and build a timeline, keeping in mind that some milestones must be completed before work on others can begin. For example, you can’t build structures before the ground has been prepared, so build that dependency into your plan. Also, remember that contractors are not always available at the exact moment we need them, so consult your contractors to confirm their availability at the point in your timeline when their services are needed.
Get Started and Track Your Progress
Ready … set … GO! It’s time to start tackling those first deliverables as they appear on your timeline. Remember to always track your progress so that on any given day, you can tell exactly how far you are from achieving your goal. If delays happen (and they probably will), adjust your plan accordingly.
Once your park is complete, remember to celebrate your success! Even small parks are big achievements, so remember to reward your team, and schedule a grand-opening event to welcome residents to their brand-new space. Include fun elements like food, face painting, live entertainment, games for the kids, and more. Put up streamers, balloons, and other eye-catching visuals to serve as an invitation for everyone to come join in the fun.
Good luck, and happy planning!