A Tale of Two Parks Departments: Kalamazoo and Portage

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Kalamazoo’s Parks and Recreation Department serves a diverse population in an urban setting with a higher than average poverty rate. Parks are underdeveloped or outdated, resulting in little pride in or use of many of the facilities.
Parks Director Sean Fletcher has been trying to bring about a paradigm shift in how residents and the city think about parks. Sean believes we should consider investment in our parks as a way to keep youth engaged, active, and on the
right path. His philosophy is as less money is needed for incarcerations, more can fow back into improving the parks system. Portage’s Parks Department offers a well-developed park and non-motorized trail system in a comparatively
culturally-homogeneous suburban setting. Finding and developing programming opportunities and unique offerings that
will bring the community together is a fundamental need for this park system. Parks Director Kathleen Hoyle is looking
for opportunities to leverage the Portage Park system as an economic development tool to assist local businesses with attracting and keeping new talent/residents in the city. Her philosophy is built around parks as a placemaking tool.
Kalamazoo, MI
Distance Learning
Course Equivalency
Parks & Recreation
Health, Safety and Welfare
Learning Outcomes
Attendees will understand the financial challenges associated with an under-funded Parks & Recreation system with regard to park improvement projects

Attendees will learn about the challenges faced when re-designing smaller urban parks

Attendees will identify several solutions to address community engagement regarding park improvement projects

- New trends/ideas in immersive park planning
- Evaluating your core competencies and building on them
- Developing a pedestrian transportation system

Sean Fletcher, Kathleen Hoyle
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Course Codes
Michigan Chapter-American Society of Landscape Architects

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