DENTON (UNT), Texas — A University of North Texas professor and a group of undergraduate students in the College of Health and Public Service are using their expertise to help bring much needed green space to a Lewisville community.
The park planning project is a collaboration between the city of Lewisville and UNT’s Advanced Environmental Research Institute. UNT Assistant Professor Lauren Ames Fischer in the Department of Public Administration and Lewisville Parks and Recreation Director Stacie Anaya came together to support Lewisville’s initiative to ensure every resident has a park within a 10-minute walk from where they live.
“Parks have a wide range of benefits for communities. They increase access to recreation that can contribute positively to public health or individual health outcomes,” Fischer said. “Parks offer a shared community space where people can come together.
Fischer and her undergraduate Urban Policy and Planning students are helping the city create a park from the ground up. The team is working with a two acre property provided by the city for a park that would serve approximately 4,500 residents. The first phase of development included an environment and land use analyses, air quality monitoring and identifying innovations in park development and design.
“We’ve been conducting and built environment analysis out in the Lewisville community, which is a food and park desert. We’ve been assessing the infrastructure and what is available for the pedestrians in terms of walkability, bike access and what really is here for good use and how we can improve the weakness areas,” said Jose Marines, one of the students working on the project.
In the coming year, the team will work with the Lewisville Parks and Recreation Department to organize meetings and focus groups with residents from the neighborhood to establish features for the park.
“We see this as a community-integrated project,” Fischer said. “The city has acquired the land, but the park development process is really community oriented and community first. Parks become an important extension of the living space for communities, and the ‘10 Minutes to Park’ policy will ensure that everyone has access to those important public resources.”