Park Development on the Urban-Agricultural Fringe


  • William Stewart
  • James Barkley
  • Andrew Kernis
  • Katerie Gladdys
  • Troy Glover


sense of place, land-use planning, public involvement


Park planning in contexts of an urban-agricultural fringe is about the re-development of land and requires a transformation from a worked landscape into land suitable for a park. Distinct from the wildland-urban interface where planning is often about protecting what is, urban-agricultural contexts is about envisioning what should be. Because of the need to imagine a park, place meanings and landscape values are important to identify in urban-agricultural contexts of park planning. The empirical portion of the study assesses participants’ lived experiences in the landscapes of their daily lives. Place meanings are embedded in these lived experiences. The paper applies a participant-based or autodriven photo elicitation method—referred to as APEC—as a means to identify and encourage participants to share their lived experiences and to understand their place meanings. Data were collected from two groups of participants—one group was associated with the USDA Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie on the outer fringe of Chicago metropolitan area, and the other was associated with the Urbana Park District Advisory Committee in Urbana, Illinois, a midsize urban area in east central Illinois. Participants at both sites represented places meanings in ways that appreciated human history, were tolerant of human development, and indicated a need to heal the land. These place meanings provided two principles for envisioning parks on the urban-agricultural fringe. The first principle is that park development should embody public memories of the landscape and provide the community with a sense of its ecological and cultural heritage. The second principle is that park development should allow for the community-based restoration of ecological and cultural heritage, and in doing so, would allow for a healing process. These values are distinct from many other contexts of park development in which the vision for a park is more immediate and planning decisions are focused on visitor management techniques and use policies. The urban-agricultural context of park planning requires public deliberation about the vision of a park and dialogue that creates public value for the vision. This study works to construct public values for parks on the urban-agricultural fringe.