Balancing Human and Ecological Needs in Parks


This panel will address different challenges and opportunities to balance human and ecological needs in parks. A process called “creative fitting” identifies users’ needs through inclusive community outreach and stakeholder engagement, while environmental opportunities are identified through scientific research, site inventory, and analysis to create adaptive solutions that balance often competing interests of recreation needs, cultural and natural resources, circulation, operations/ maintenance and revenue generation.

Case studies include FDR Park in Philadelphia and Magnuson Park in Seattle. Presenters will also share the story of the transformation of a derelict industrial waterfront into Brooklyn Bridge Park—a vibrant 85-acre landscape that resulted in an innovative urban public space that responds to current global challenges including climate change, habitat loss, the decline of biodiversity, and clean air.


  • Explore methods of finding a programmatic balance to create win-win resiliency solutions with diverse stakeholder groups with competing interests
  • Recognize the interconnected nature of public and ecological health and how public open spaces contribute to overall community wellness and resiliency
  • Identify opportunities that generate revenue to offset operations and maintenance costs and impact the larger city-wide economy by attracting visitors and vendors
  • Explore how to develop a workforce that is strongly committed to the agency's stewardship


Maura McCarthy

Executive Director, Fairmount Park Conservancy

Eric Landau

President, Brooklyn Bridge Park

Charles Neer

Senior Associate, WRT