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How Are Parks Made?

Montgomery Parks manages more than 400 parks on over 34,000 acres of parkland which is more than 10% of the entire county’s land mass. Wherever you are in Montgomery County, you are never more than two miles away from one of our county parks.

There are many different types of parks, ranging from small pockets in urban centers to large, recreational parks that offer many different activities. We’ve designated close to 25,000 acres of parkland as conservation or stream valley parks to protect our county’s ecosystems and keep them green and healthy.

Here’s how we do it…

Step 1. Identifying Needs

It all starts with research! We rely on census reports, user surveys, reports from our park managers, and feedback from you, to figure out what kind of park is needed and where it should go.

If we recognize a demand for features like dog parks, BMX courses, climbing walls, or other attractions, we’ll decide whether to add these on to existing park plans, or acquire new space.

Step 2. Acquisition & Expansion

Our park system grows by hundred of acres each year. There are three ways we acquire new land: purchase, dedication, or donation. If land is for sale, we’ll identify it through the county’s master planning process. Funding for the purchase of parkland comes from different programs administered by the Department of Parks.

Step 3. Planning For Use

There are many kinds of parks – regional, recreational, conservation, special, stream valley, urban, local, neighborhood, and neighborhood conservation – and in Montgomery County, we have all of them!

Each type has its own guidelines for stewardship, develop, and management, and the first thing we do when planning is find the right balance between preserving the natural environment and providing recreational opportunities for the public.

Step 4. Preliminary Design

Before we design or renovate a new park, we get input from the community to make sure the park has the features you want. We estimate how much the project will cost, and how much impact it will have on the environment.

We then create concepts that take these things into consideration. Our goal is always to provide the features you want, while minimizing any impact on the surrounding environment. Because parks aren’t just for people, they’re for plants and animals too!

Step 5. Community Input

Once our design concepts are ready, we’ll hold a meeting to review them with the community. They’re also review with regulatory agencies to make sure nothing has been overlooked. We then take all of this input, and use it to further develop and refine our preferred plan.

Step 6. Approvals & Funding

Next, we present our preferred plan and a cost estimate to the Planning Board for approval in a public session. During this session, we encourage residents to share their opinions on the plan we present, either by speaking up or writing them down. The Planning Board will review all feedback from residents, and may recommend we revise our plan in response.

Once the Planning Board approves the plan, the cost estimate is used to prepare a request for final design and construction funding through the Capital Improvements Program. If the Montgomery County Executive and County Council approves this request, we’re ready to move forward!

Step 7. Detailed Design

Before we can start building the new park, we have to make sure our design takes into account every detail – from where a playground might go, to what colors will be used on park signs. We also have to obtain final permits and approvals at this time. Finally, it’s time to start building the park!

Step 8. Construction

During the construction period, park construction managers and inspectors make sure everything goes according to plan. But it doesn’t happen overnight! Building a new park or renovating an old one can take up to seven years!

Once construction is complete, we can start getting the park ready for you to use.

Step 9. Use

Every park has a park manager who takes care of it. Park Police add new parks to their patrols to keep everyone safe, and we hire additional staff to run any new recreational facilities, like an ice rink or nature center.

Many divisions within the Parks Department work together to make sure our parks offer you the best experience possible. We think you’ll agree that they do an amazing job!

Step 10. Tracking Needs

We constantly gather feedback on each park, through surveys and conversations with visitors, to make sure it meets your needs. Our parks are your parks. So if you think something’s missing, tell us!

See what new parks projects we have in development now.

Last Updated: December 14, 2016