Prince George's County Department of Parks and Recreation
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Park Planning

How are all those parks and recreation facilities developed?

M-NCPPC's Park Planning & Development Division in the Department of Parks and Recreation provides the planning, engineering, design, landscaping, and construction management functions involved in bringing new parks and recreation facilities to the public. Park land is acquired through the M-NCPPC capital improvement, grants, mandatory dedication, and surplus property programs. Design, engineering, and management of park and building construction are the responsibility of professional staff.

What is the difference between the Planning Department and the Park Planning & Development Division of the Department of Parks and Recreation?

The Prince George's County Planning Department preserves and protects the county's resources by providing land planning services and reviewing proposals for private land development. Their mission includes planning for public facilities (roads, schools, libraries, police stations), and protecting the physical environment.

The Park Planning & Development Division of the Department of Parks and Recretion provides, protects, and develops public parkland. Our mission includes determining how much parkland is needed, where it should be, and how it should be developed or protected. The division acquires property and develops it for recreational purposes.

Is there a park in my community?

Prince George's County has more than 26,000 acres of M-NCPPC parkland. Approximately 1/3 has been developed to provide active and passive recreation opportunities. It is very likely that there is a park facility in or near your community. The Department of Parks and Recreation publishes hiker/biker trail maps and guides to the many historic, arts and cultural sites that are part of the park system. Or, call us at 301-699-CALL (2255), TTY 301-699-2544 to tell us where you live and what your interests are. We'll help you find a park or recreation facility near you.

How do you decide where to put new parks?

When plans are developed for an area of the county, future needs for public facilities such as parks, libraries, and fire stations are identified. Potential parks are usually shown on the Master Plan with what is called a "floating" park symbol. When suitable properties are offered for sale or proposed for development, the Department of Parks and Recreation tries to acquire land in the area of the floating symbol for a new park.

The Department has its own acquisition staff that specializes in buying parkland. In recommending park sites to purchase, park planning staff is guided by standards established by the National Recreation and Park Association, and guidelines in the local Land Preservation, Parks & Recreation Plan.

When land is not available to purchase, the Department helps to fulfill park and recreation needs by putting more recreational facilities in nearby parks or by joining with other local public agencies to use their facilities or lands. Partnerships have been formed with the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, the county school system, and state agencies to provide recreational opportunities where the Department does not own land.

As a Prince George's County resident, how do I request funding for a new park or for the renovation of facilities in an existing park?

The Commission's Capital Improvement Program (CIP) is the primary mechanism for planning and budgeting capital projects such as new or renovated parks. The CIP is a six-year program, with the first year being the Capital Budget year and the outer five years comprising the planned capital expenditures for the following years. Typically, requests for funding a new or renovated park are placed in the outer years of the CIP and eventually funding is provided when that outer year becomes the Capital Budget year.

Since the Commission receives many requests for CIP funding, a system of prioritizing the requests has been developed based on factors such as need, safety concerns, compliance with building codes, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and prior funding commitments, as well as citizen and county support. Residents may request that projects be placed in the CIP by testifying at one of the scheduled Planning Board Budget Forums that take place each autumn and/or at the County Council Budget Hearing that takes place each spring.

In addition, residents are urged to work with a local recreation council or civic association and send their requests in writing to their elected County Council representative. During this process, residents are encouraged to contact the park planner assigned to their area for input regarding the development of a design program and associated cost estimates. Park planner contact information for a particular area of the county may be obtained by calling 301-699-2587.

How long does it take to design and construct a new park or recreation facility?

Once the funding for a project is approved, the time it takes to design and build the facility varies by project type. Facilities that involve the construction of a new building, such as a community center, take much longer than smaller projects such as ball fields, play areas or trails.

Typically the design of a project does not begin until about 12 months after the date that funding is available. During this 12-month period, design staff are assigned to coordinate the project and perform topographic surveys and soil tests, talk with the community to gather their ideas, talk with staff to learn about operational and maintenance needs, gather the requirements for roads and access to the park, and then design the park. Community meetings are held to inform interested people about the progress of the design and get their input.

Permits for grading, building, storm-water management, water and sewer, ADA requirements, fire safety requirements, and other types of regulations take at least six months to a year, depending on the size of project. There are also contractual issues that take time, such as preparing bid documents, advertising the bids for 30 days, evaluating and selecting the contractor, preparing contracts that detail the work to be performed, and getting insurance and bonds to guarantee the job.

A great deal goes into getting the right design and construction teams to build public park facilities. With this in mind, the following are typical completion times for building different types of parks:

 

  • Lighting for ball fields or parking area--16 months
  • Neighborhood park (typically includes a play area, basketball and tennis courts, picnic area)--27 months
  • Community park (typically includes ball fields, parking, picnic area and pavilion, trails, play area, etc.)--36 months
  • Buildings (community center, recreation building, special facilities such as an indoor pool or ice rink)--48 months.

 

Are all recreation buildings in the park and recreation system in Prince George's County required to provide access to and be usable by people with disabilities?

As of January 1999, all new recreational facilities are "ADA compliant." This means the facilities are designed and constructed by the Department of Parks and Recreation must comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ADA compliance is mandatory and a building permit for new construction will only be approved if the plan meets ADA requirements. If the drawings do not meet ADA standards, it's "back to the drawing board!"

The Department has been going through its older facilities with the goal of making all of the facilities compliant with the new ADA regulations. A major survey of Commission buildings was undertaken by consultants, and funding to make the buildings code compliant was placed in the Capital Improvement Program.

As an interested contractor or bidder, how do I learn about the Department's design and development projects?

The Department of Parks and Recreation has a bidders' list on which interested design and construction professionals place their firms' name, specialty, address, telephone and fax numbers. The Department uses this list to send Invitations to Bid for projects within that firm's pertinent area. You may call 301-454-1600 to obtain a bidders' list form.

For projects whose value is greater than $25,000, notice and invitations to bid are published in the Washington Post, Afro-American, The Examiner, and Dodge Report. Bid opportunities also are listed on line, and summary information for projects may be listed on this website. If you would like information on the status of a project, call 301-699-2481 or 301-699-2517.