Predicting the Social Impacts of Restoration in an Urban ParkEPA Grant Number: U914972
Title: Predicting the Social Impacts of Restoration in an Urban Park
Investigators: Page, Christina
Institution: Yale University
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: January 1, 1996 through January 1, 1998
Project Amount: $68,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1996) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Urban Planning , Academic Fellowships , Environmental Justice
The objective of this research project is to conduct an analysis of potential impacts of the proposed salt marsh restoration on surrounding human communities using resident surveys and behavioral sampling along the West River, a literature survey of recreational trends and behavior, and a geographic information system analysis of the biophysical and demographic features of the region around the park.
Current and potential use and perceptions of West River Memorial Park were influenced by physical and social barriers to access, but the demographics of human communities around the park were not the central factor barring use. Rather, physical barriers and the arrangement of residential and nonresidential space, roads with busy traffic, and municipal boundaries were among the main reasons for the park's current state. Large, strip-like areas such as West River Memorial Park that are distant from downtown and blocked by busy roads are easily abandoned. Current barriers to use will not vanish by restoring the salt marsh alone. However, well-planned attempts to ameliorate the effects of barriers, as part of the restoration, can act as a catalyst for generating greater local and regional use of the area. The diversity of communities within a relatively small geographical area and the regional, multiuse potential of West River Memorial Park suggest that the area could attract a varied collection of users to sustain and enliven the park and the surrounding landscape. If the initial investment of resources and time is to generate sustainable use of the area, careful attention and effort must be invested in removing barriers to access.