Common Issues with Parks and Recreation Master Planning

There are several issues that often arise when using master plans for parks and recreational facilities. By combating these issues early on, master planning can lead to success for all parties involved. Some of the most common issues with master plans, as stated in a Project for Public Spaces report include that parks and recreation master plans may be:


Master plans must be viewed as flexible guides instead of rigid plans. In certain situations patrons and organizations believe that a master plan will not allow for changing conditions and desires. According to IPA’s Healthy Communities: A Resource Guide for Delaware Municipalities, master plans must be dynamic and flexible planning tools. They should set a framework for the future and evolve to adapt to changing community needs and goals.


Creating master plans can be costly, especially if a consultant is hired. However, by pooling resources and expertise, the benefits of planning can greatly outweigh the costs.

Created and Not Used

It is important to keep all stakeholders involved during the entirety of the master planning process. If key players do not agree with the plan, it could fall to the wayside after completion due to lack of consensus.

Prepared without Sufficient Public Input and/or Congruence with Other Plans

The local jurisdiction has the discretion to prepare a master plan in-house, or with the help of an outside consultant. However, if a consultant is hired to oversee the process, opportunities for public input and feedback must be provided. Parks and recreation master plans should complement other state, regional, and local government plans; reflect the vision of the community; and be realistic in terms of a local government’s finances and funding sources.

Non-Compliant with ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that newly constructed and altered state and local government facilities and places of public accommodation—including parks and recreation facilities—must be readily accessible to, and usable by, individuals with disabilities. The ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) is the standard applied to buildings and facilities, including parks and recreational facilities.

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