A Study of the Park and Recreation Problem of the United States
Chapter IV: Administration (continued)
SELECTION, PLANNING, AND DEVELOPMENT
Selection, planning, and development, whether of
single areas or systems, must be based on some sort of policy, expressed
or understood, if it is to be anything but a haphazard and disordered
process. Comparatively few States, unfortunately, have attempted to
formulate in specific terms those principles and policies which are to
govern the whole process of planning and development, including the
first step, that of selection. Unfortunately, also, areas selected and
the quality of development given them in many instances all too well
illustrate the consequences of lack of policy.
Because they indicate, in varying degrees, the scope
of such statements of policy, there are reproduced here those
formulated for the States of New York and South Carolina.
That for the State of New York was formulated in 1929
and 1930 by the State Council of Parks, and is probably as comprehensive
as any that has been issued by a State. Headed Principles Governing the
New York State Park and Parkway System and Rules for the Extension of
the System, it reads as follows:
PRINCIPLES GOVERNING PARKS. The State is committed to
the development of a unified park system developed on a regional basis.
There are ten park regions including the forest preserve region. These
park specifications apply to all regions except the forest preserve, the
development of which is governed by totally different considerations.
The State program for each region is based primarily upon scenic
attraction and recreational needs. An even geographical distribution of
"a park every 50 miles" or "a park for every county" is manifestly
impossible on account of scenic, recreational and other requirements,
and because it is fundamentally unscientific.
A park site should possess both conspicuous scenic
and recreational value, or at least some scenic value and very unusual
By conspicuous scenic value is meant rare natural
scenery which is unlikely to be preserved for enjoyment by the public of
this and future generations if the property remains in private hands,
and which is sufficiently distinctive to attract and interest people
from distant parts of the State as well as local people.
By conspicuous recreational value is meant
topography, trees, vegetation, streams, lakes, or ocean shore, which
will attract and interest people of a wide surrounding area and which
would not be available to the public if the property remained in private
In the absence of striking scenic value, this may be
compensated for by very unusual recreational value such as is
represented by a very fine bathing beach or by an exceptional location
with respect to population centers and main arteries of travel.
The State parks should be sufficient in number to
meet the prospective demands of the people of each region over and above
facilities which are or should be provided by local, city, county, town
and village parks, and without requiring a State park budget which is
unreasonable or excessive in the light of other financial demands. * *
RULES GOVERNING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ADDITIONAL STATE
PARKS AND EXTENSIONS OF EXISTING PARKS
1. Minimum AreaExcept in extraordinary cases
the site should include not less than 400 acres of land well adapted for
park use and development. Existing parks of smaller area should be
extended to at least this minimum acreage.
2. Group of Smaller UnitsIn certain
special cases, a group of smaller units may be desirable when the
several sites are close enough together for a central management and it
is not practical to acquire the land between units. This situation is
illustrated by the several sites comprising the Niagara Reservation.
Even here the ultimate objective should contemplate the connection of
these units by a parkway or wide boulevard under park management. Small
units along a State parkway for parking or picnicking are always
4. The Large Park Compared to Smaller
ParksIt is better to concentrate on one large fine park than
to scatter efforts over a number of smaller parks in the same
5. Requirements for New Parks To Be Increasingly
StrictThe establishment of new parks must not be carried to an
extent which will interfere with the proper development of existing
parks. For this reason the requirements for new park sites must become
increasingly strict. A State park should be developed in a dignified and
substantial manner and park funds should not be scattered over so many
sites as to result in partial or improper development.
6. Historic and Scientific FeaturesThe
value of a State park site is enhanced if it contains historical and
scientific features which are interesting and educational, but such
factors are incidental and not controlling like scenic and recreational
Sites which are primarily historical and scientific
should not be administered by the park authorities which lack the
interest and knowledge to care for them. No new sites of this kind
should be acquired, and those now in existence should be transferred to
the education department as soon as the legislature can make provision
for a Bureau of Historic and Scientific Places in that department.
7. Type of Land To Be TakenIn general,
the policy is not to take unattractive, open farm lands for park
purposes, but to utilize property which cannot be farmed economically.
However, this should not be construed to prevent taking necessary open
land to provide entrances, parking areas, recreational fields. etc., as
adjuncts to the main park area.
8. Woods and WaterA site possessing a
fair percentage of wooded area is to be preferred. A stream, lake, or
ocean shore with water of sufficient purity for bathing is practically
indispensable. Parks without bathing facilities or the possibility of
such facilities, or without water views are not desirable.
9. Cost of LandThe cost of land should
be relatively low considering the section of the State in which the park
site is located. Other things being equal, a site involving a small
number of present owners is to be preferred.
10. Cost of DevelopmentThe park site
must eventually have entrance and other roads, drinking water, sanitary
facilities, central building, clearing of grounds, etc. A site which
necessitates unusually large expenditures to provide for basic
developments should be avoided.
Figure 24. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)
RULES GOVERNING THE ESTABLISHMENT, EXTENSION, AND
DEVELOPMENT OF PARKWAYS
DefinitionA parkway is a narrow
landscaped park with a pavement for motor vehicles running through it.
Crossings at grade are eliminated and access is afforded only at fixed
and specified entrances which are spaced a considerable distance apart
and are not opposite each other.
1. LocationThe State should establish
parkways as distinguished from wide boulevards only through attractive
2. WidthIn future the minimum width of a
parkway right-of-way should be 300 feet. The average and maximum width
should, of course, depend upon topography, cost, and other factors.
3. CrossingsNo crossings at grade should
be permitted, excepting over little-traveled roads, and even in the case
of such roads, sufficient land should be acquired in the beginning for
ultimate elimination. The question of whether a parkway should be
elevated over a local or cross road, or whether the local or cross road
should be elevated over the parkway should depend upon topography and
cost. In flat country and especially in suburban centers every effort
should be made to keep the parkway down. Other conditions being equal,
the cost of elevating the parkway will be greater than the cost of
elevating a narrower cross road, but the damage to adjacent property may
be greater in the latter case. Sufficient land should be obtained at
crossings so that no private property will be damaged by the elevation
and to afford adequate space for planting and landscaping and for
4. EntrancesPublic entrances should
normally be constructed in connection with the elimination of
crossings. There should never be less than two entrances in connection
with a crossing, and these should be diagonally opposite each other.
Entrance roads should approach the parkway pavement as nearly as
possible at right angles, and of course, at grade. Private entrances
should be granted only where substantial dedications of rights-of-way
are made by private owners, or where land is sold by such owners to the
State at considerably below market price, or where the absence of such
private entrances affecting a considerable acreage of land would work a
real hardship on the owner.
5. PavementsThe parkway should be paved
with concrete or other hard-surface pavement. In order to avoid the
glare and the whitish coloring of concrete, a surface treatment with a
dark emulsion may be used, or a coating of bituminous macadam or some
other similar material may be added.
6. BridgesBridges should be designed not
only for strength but for appearance. Architects and landscape
architects are fully as important in the design of parkway bridges as
7. PlantingPlanting and landscaping of
parkways is fully as important as pavement and bridges. No State parkway
should be constructed without assurance of adequate funds for planting
and landscaping as well as for maintenance after the initial planting is
8. LightingThe lighting system on a
parkway should be designed on the theory of silhouette illumination. The
poles and fixtures should be appropriate and should blend with and fit
into the landscaping and other parkway structures. The feed for the
lighting system should be underground and no overhead wires of any
description should be permitted.
9. StructuresThere should be no
structures along a State parkway excepting those purely incidental to
its normal use as a driveway. If any filling stations are authorized
they should be attractive in appearance and constructed from appropriate
10. Zoning and RestrictionsThe area
adjacent to State parkways should be zoned wherever possible for the
best type of private residence. This can be accomplished through
cooperation with local governmental bodies. A State park commission
entrusted with the care of parkways should follow every change in zoning
ordinances affecting adjacent territory and all actions by the local
board of appeals. Normally the State should attempt to have zoning
restrictions established governing an area within at least 300 feet of
the parkway. In some cases it may be found possible for the State to
restrict adjacent private property by agreement with the owners, such
restrictions to run with the land. This is a most desirable procedure
where the owners will agree.
11. Other RestrictionsNormally all State
parkways should be restricted to passenger cars other than busses. Only
in the most exceptional cases should any other vehicles be permitted on
12. Curves, Grades, Walks, Bridle Paths,
Etc.Normally there should be no curve on a parkway with a
radius of less than 1,500 feet through flat topography; there should be
no grade of more than 4 percent through flat topography or of more than
6 percent in rolling country. Wherever the right-of-way is sufficiently
wide bridle paths and walks should be considered.
Adopted April 22, 1930, State Council of Parks.
ROBERT MOSES, Chairman,
HENRY F. LUTZ, Secretary.
Approved, May 1,1930,
ALEXANDER MACDONALD, Conservation Commissioner.
South Carolina, one of the States newly in the park
field, frankly recognizes the problem imposed by the race segregation it
is required to practice and by the vital necessity of providing proper
recreational facilities for the Negroes who comprise more than 45
percent of the State's population. The Palmetto State has declared,
through its State Commission of Forestry:
(1) That a State park must be an area of outstanding
regional, scenic, historical, scientific, educational, or recreational
(2) That a park shall be located within 50 miles
travel of every man, woman, and child in the State.
(3) That the area must be of sufficient size to meet
the requirements of the activities which find their best expression in
primitive settings. For development purposes topography, cover, water
areas, and other natural resources have a definite bearing on this size
but, in general, one thousand acres is minimum.
(4) That, because of the State's racial composition,
two recreational area systems are necessary: one for white people and
one for Negroes.
(5) That in the planning and development of the areas
and facilities priority shall be given to those which serve mass needs.
Therefore, the State shall first seek to meet the need for swimming,
picnicking, and socialized mass activities.
Such statements of policy, which, for both these
States, concern themselves with the principles of selection and, in very
small degree, with the principles of development, could very well be
supplemented, in every State, and by all park agencies, with similar
enunciations of policy as to development and operation.
An official statement which appeared in the ninth
annual report of the Department of Conservation of Indiana, illustrates
the kind of statement of policy as to development and operation which,
however much the policies themselves may vary among the several States,
every State needs to formulate for itself, recognizing also that such
statements should not be inflexible, but subject to change only when
the conviction has been reached that changes are necessary and wise.
Says the Indiana statement:
. . . It seems that, within any given State, all park
properties should be under the control of one governing body. Problems
differ in many of the units, but their solution is made easier by the
collected experience of a central office, and their policies more
adequately carried on as a State Park policy. . . .
Into these parks crowd the vast masses of our
industrial citiesa few aristocrats on foot, the remainder in cars.
The first problem of administration is to answer their impulsive
questions, Where do we go? What is there to see? What is there to do?
These are important queriesthe ones that brought them here. Some
park authorities seem to think that the people will just naturally fall
to, that they will find a proper camping-place, build a safe and sane
fire, eat, be merry, clean up, and go home, and do all these most
improbable things without ultimately ruining the very place they adore
and immediately rendering it unsanitary and unsightly. A city is a
livable place because sanitary precautions have been taken to keep the
people from poisoning one another. What about the waters and the woods?
The hot and stuffy city is a safer place, hygienically speaking, than
the average run of summer resorts; and a State park will be no better
unless all necessary safeguards are provided.
In our experience we have found that the comfort and
well being of vast crowds can be best administered to by the use of one
or more service areas. Within the main area are grouped the hotels,
restaurants, lunch stands, shelter houses, cottages, garages, auto
parking space, wash and toilet rooms, servant quarters, laundries, power
and pump houses, garbage incinerators, septic tanks, etc.
Hotels and other food-vending places are under the
supervision of the State. Our Indiana system of leasing the so-called
"concessions" to carefully chosen managers is superior to letting them
to the highest bidder or to the politically potent. We admittedly,
however, are not automatically keeping up high standardsconstant
vigilance and admonition on the part of the State authorities are
required. Let it be remembered that under our concession system all
buildings and equipment belong to the State, with the exception of
kitchen, pantry, and bedroom equipment which are furnished by the
concessionaire. He also is responsible for all machinery in use.
Within the second area are provisions mainly for
campers and picnickers, such as a safe supply of drinking-water, camp
cooking places, sanitary toilets, etc. Safe bathing places along river
banks and lake shores are indicated.
Altogether, the defined service area, serving as it
does as a place of congregation and redistribtuion, handles large numbers
with comparative ease. To it leads an unavoidable automobile
parkway. From it radiate trails through woods and by shores. It serves,
so to speak, as a filter. But, above all, it saves the landscape from
ruin. It leaves this protected for the nature lover, student, artist,
dreamer, and other impractical but socially highly important people. . .
To a State developing a new State park system, I
would submit the following list of "Do's" and "Dont's." It is a brief
but safe program for administration:
1. Provide a well-planned service area.
2. Provide a safe and ample water supply.
3. Check its quality regularly in season by
4. Provide for sanitary sewage and garbage
5. Regulate quality and cost of food-stuffs and
6. Furnish fireplaces and free firewood to
7. Stop the vandalism of picking or digging flowers
and ferns, etc. (Best accomplished by appeals to the public.)
8. Keep a close watch for fires.
9. Avoid all artificial "improvements" in park
10. Limit automobile drives to barest needs.
11. Construct easy and pleasant paths through woods
and by waters.
12. Maintain service of nature-study guides.
13. Make small charge for parking and camping to
assure proper maintenance.
14. Collect a small admission charge to park.
At the end of this list is a demand for a small
admission charge. State parks ought to be made as nearly self-supporting
as possible, or else the cost will have to be frankly put on the tax
duplicate. In the first case, those who enjoy the park will contribute a
small amount toward its maintenance; in the second, the taxpayer in the
distant parts of the State who likely will never see the place, will be
compelled, nevertheless, to contribute toward its purchase and
So much for the administrative end of State parks.
Its philosophy should be a minimization of useless effort on the part of
the visitor and an enhancement of his appreciation of the natural
charms and beauties of the place.
National Park Service Policy in Selection and
Development. The policy of the National Park Service with respect to
selection of areas for the status of national parks or monuments is now
rather generally understood. The basic consideration is that any such
area shall possess genuine national significance, even though it may in
some cases involve a certain degree of duplication or repetition. Thus,
Mount Rainier National Park contains as its central feature the highest
of the western glacier-bearing volcanic peaks. However, its inclusion
in the system is not considered to be a bar to ultimate inclusion of
one or several others in the Northwest which contain such peaks, since
they are likewise spectacular scenic features of national significance
and possess striking individual characteristics. The new accepted
classificationthat of national seashore, not yet fully represented
in the Federal systeminvolves no departure from this basic policy,
since it is justified by the profound conviction that our remaining
unmodified areas of seacoast are also fraught with true national
Service policy has expanded during the present decade
to the extent of recognizing that the recreational requirements of the
country as a whole cannot be adequately met by the individual States
when supplemented by a Federal system whose total content is limited to
areas of national significance. It contends that there are areas of
such extent and importance that they can and should render their service
to a large region, embracing part or all of several States, but beyond
the capacity of any single State either to acquire or administer. A
complete and definite policy as to selection and development of such
regional recreational areas, as parts of a Federal system is taking
shape, but has not yet been finally formulated.
Developmental policies for national parks and
monuments, whether primarily scenic, scientific, historic, or
prehistoric in character, are reasonably well defined. Essential
features of this policy are that:
1. No developments will be permitted in them which
materially impair those features or qualities, the preservation and
protection of which were the reason for their establishment in park or
2. Activities, recreational or otherwise, for which
provision is made, shall be only those dictated by the character of the
area itself, and desirable in order that the public may obtain the
fullest possible enjoyment of those features or qualities on which its
national status is based.
3. As large a part as possible of each national area
shall be left completely unmodified, with access provided only by
4. In every area the Service will endeavor to assist
the public in understanding natural, historic, or prehistoric features,
by such means as museums, trailside and roadside exhibits, guide
service, publications, etc.
5. Suitable accommodations for housing and feeding
visitors will be provided wherever possible, either by the National Park
Service or by private operators. Commercial activities shall be limited
to those essential to the care and comfort of park visitors.
6. Since all areas under National Park Service
administration are established for the benefit of the whole public, no
part of them shall be leased for the exclusive use of any person or
group of persons.