The Green Column #36

Visions of Play in Lincoln’s Future

October 19, 2010—The following ideas about the future of play in Lincoln have been solicited from age group members of the Lincoln Green by Design volunteer organization and the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee.

When we ask the public for ideas and opinions about the future characteristics of Lincoln, 30 years from now, we should keep in mind that there likely will be different opinions about our future environments and our roles within a future time, according to the generational perspective of those responding. So, the next few articles in this Green Column Series will seek opinions from different age groups among the members of Lincoln Green by Design, guided, in general by the LPlan2040 on-line survey: Virtual Town Hall: Bright Ideas. While the specific expressions may not exactly fit the heading category, they nevertheless will be useful in the City’s quest for new visions of our place, our children’s place and our grandchildren’s place.

14—18 years
Creative Parks
Lincoln needs to be vibrant and fun for all ages. There should be more seclusion and expansion, more ins and outs, such as sunken pathways, flower gardens, and trees. People go to a park to have fun and experience nature close to home. Nature isn’t as appealing if the only view is flat grass and a busy street. Many parks around the United Sates are built to be a quiet place to experience nature among a busy city, such as those in Washington D.C. Also, outdoor markets could be used to attract people from in and out of the state such as the outdoor markets in Seattle. Everyone loves art and music but mixing things up with creative new stands of interesting trinkets and oddities would be cool for younger people to experience.

Drive-in Movie Theater
A drive-in movie theater would be great for families and especially teenagers because it’s something we never got to experience.

26—36 years
Safe and Accessible Parks
We live next to Robert’s Park. Renovation of the playground equipment accessible to children as young as two years old has made this park frequently used year-round. The addition of lighting, particularly in the parking lot, has reduced inappropriate use of the park. I would hope that Lincoln residents in all neighborhoods are fortunate to have large multi-use parks with safety features such as adequate lighting. Additionally, it’s important to retrofit and build new parks for children and adults with special needs (handicap accessible bathrooms, water fountains, and playground equipment).

Natural Surfaces for Running
Running on cement can cause shin splints. Holmes Lake, Oak Lake Park, and the Mopac Trail are three options for running on a natural surface. It is critical that these running options are maintained. Could the Lincoln Public Schools open their tracks to the public to encourage health, fitness, and fun for all ages?

Safe Bike Routes for Small Children
Currently, my family frequently uses both on street and off street bike baths. Our daughter is outgrowing the attached bike seat, but I am too nervous to let her ride in a trailer on the street routes. The more off street bike routes or extra wide sidewalks for children’s bike safety the better. At the very least, we need to add more traffic lights for busy on street bike path intersections.

Above-Road Bike Bridges
Bike paths that run below bridges often flood with water and are unpleasant to navigate in the evenings. I would like to see more bike trail bridges that run above the road such as the one at 27th and Hwy 2.

Indoor Play Areas
Given Nebraska’s weather, it is critical that we support recreational options for extreme weather—indoor play areas for winter and water parks for the summer. It would be nice to have an outdoor ice skating rink such as the one at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park.

Outdoor Learning Play Yards at Schools and Neighborhoods
I am glad to see the outdoor learning play yard at Beattie Elementary School with vegetable gardens and the Community CROPS gardens throughout town. I hope such programs expand to other Lincoln schools and neighborhoods.

37—50 years
Haymarket Arena Green Space
Leaders should include open green space in the Haymarket Arena concept. An open green space for people to hang out, read, throw around a ball and bike before events instead of simply a huge parking lot would be very beneficial and attractive.

50+ years
Community Gardens
Gardening is an enjoyable recreational activity for many Lincoln residents; however, some do not have space for a garden. Creating gardens in unused park areas would be practical and useful by providing space for those who lack it. Community gardens allow people to grow healthy food in a setting where they can share gardening tools and learn from each other, including how to care for the soil and prepare produce when it is ready to eat.

Growing your own food (and buying locally-grown food) increases sustainability by reducing the need for processing, packaging materials, and transportation fuel. It also creates greater awareness of our food system, appreciation of our natural environment, and connection to the place we call home.

Our next article will feature ideas for “Where We Work.”

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