What makes parks and trails projects successful? Is it design? Is it the type of amenities? Of course good design matters and of course having the right amenities that are responsive to the community matter. There are many factors that make a trail or park project successful but my interview with Carol Evans at the Urban Wilderness in Knoxville revealed 6 factors that have made and continue to make The Urban Wilderness in Knoxville, TN successful and they are having massive success. Maybe you can find some application.
The Urban Wilderness is made up of approximately1000 acres but is not owned by one single agency. There is a private nature center, 4 historic battlefield sites, 2 city parks and a greenway along the Cumberland River just to name a few. The goal of the Urban Wilderness is to connect these disconnected amenities with trails and make it a destination.
They have been working on this since 2008 and it seems to be working.
From $1,500,000 to $10,000,000.00. They started out in 2008 with a small capital fundraiser of $1.5M with no history of zero public funding to buy property across the river from downtown Knoxville and just recently 2019, The City of Knoxville announced it is investing $10,000,000.00 in a gateway project leading to the Urban Wilderness. The Urban Wilderness has been featured in the Backpacker Magazine, Mountain Bike Magazine and Southern Living and was home to the Checkpoint Tracker Adventure Race Nationals. It has truly helped Knoxville become an outdoor destination.
So when I asked Carol what is making the Urban Wilderness successful she had an answer for me. Here are the 6 things that have made and continue to make the Urban Wilderness successful:
When I take a moment and reflect on the successful projects I have been involved in these 6 Principles were present in some form. Next time you are kicking off a park project start with these 6 items on your checklist to give your project a boost towards success!
Also, just a little challenge and encouragement to all of you doing park projects. Take the time to ask the question what has made your project successful or not so successful. We can all learn from you asking that simple question.
Please let me know if you have other principles or other key elements that have made your project successful. I would love to know.
Finally - If you are interested in hearing the entire interview you can listen and watch at Connectivity: 2 Case Studies. However, this one does cost a little because I prepared it as a course and I interviewed Noel Durant from Chattanooga in this course as well. I think you will find it helpful and certainly more in depth.
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