2. Gather Input

Look carefully at your park and examine how the space is used. Ask your neighbors: what do you love about the park? What would you change? Reach out to youth to find out what’s important to them. When you’re done collecting input, report your findings to Parks and your community.


The community knows the park and its users best, and gathering input has a powerful impact on how well the park design responds to users’ needs.


The best time to investigate your community’s needs and desires for the park is before the scope meeting, which is held soon after the project is funded.


The 11 tools on the PMP Web site are designed to help groups effectively gather input about what the community wants in a new park.

Watch a short video about the Hester Street Collaborative’s input-gathering for the Hester Street Playground.

Before using the tools, ask PFP about the capital schedule, budget, and other restrictions, to ensure your input-gathering process fits into the capital timeline. Then share this information with your community; input is most effective when people understand what’s possible.

Using a select group of tools, spend time in your neighborhood and ask people what they want for the park, how they use it, and what their concerns are. Document their ideas and report back to Parks. Reach out to as many different people as possible, and ask them for contact information so you can inform them about plans for the park and how to stay involved. Make sure you capture the whole range of users, not just one group’s preferences.  Be prepared to compromise because every park has to accommodate many diverse interests.

Ways to gather input include:

  • Circulate surveys to capture the ideas and concerns of everyday park users.
  • Hold a special event like a community design meeting or festival.
  • Engage youth in creative activities that allow them to communicate their vision of their dream park.

Whatever activity you choose, make sure you’re collecting input that will be useful to the designer. Don’t attempt to design the park yourself. Respect the designer’s expertise and use your process to share your community’s local knowledge about the park.

Compile the results and deliver them to the designer as soon as possible, preferably at the scope meeting, because after the scope meeting the designer immediately gets to work on producing a conceptual design.

Learn how to plan a visioning event.

Discover best practices for outreaching to immigrant communities. (PDF, 817 KB)

Read a sample input-gathering report produced by Friends of Gulick Park in English, Chinese, and Spanish.

Useful Tools

Wish Objects

Invite people to express their vision for the park on paper objects cut into playful shapes.

Story Map

Discover people’s connection to the park with words, drawings, and stickers placed on a map.

Model Making

Envision what the park could look like with an architecture-themed activity.

Success Stories