Urban Research & Development Corporation
Landscape Architecture and Planning
Park Master Plans
URDC has prepared more than 200 park master plans. Many times, we include a park master plan as part of a larger parks, recreation, and open space plan. In addition to master plans, which study and recommend potential layouts for parks and provide cost estimates, timelines, and potential funding sources, URDC also develops the specific design of parks, from concept sketches to construction drawings. In some cases, we provide our clients with both park master planning and design services in the same project.
Exton Park is comprised of 727 acres of parkland, of which 279 acres is the West Whiteland Township’s Exton Park site and the remaining portion belongs to Chester County. Together they form the last large undeveloped piece of open land in both West Whiteland Township and eastern Chester County area. The site, owned by West Whiteland Township, serves as a major habitat for migratory birds as well as a large drainage area. Whereas many of the public parks located within Exton Park’s service area provide primarily active use facilities in the form of sports fields, Exton Park represents a unique opportunity to provide passive recreational opportunities as well as to preserve both ecological and historic assets within West Whiteland Township.
On behalf of Salisbury Township, URDC prepared a park master plan, designed a passive-oriented park, and monitored two phases of park construction at what was to become the 71-acre Franko Park. The development program included an indoor recreation building, pond restoration, interpretive signs, and wetland mitigation. Following the master plan, Salisbury retained URDC to prepare construction documents and oversee the construction of three development phases.
GREER PARK MASTER SITE DEVELOPMENT PLAN
Greer Park has a long history as a local community asset in Newtown Township. The park land was once part of a farm that provided meat, dairy, and produce for a hospital in Philadelphia. A pond on the property was created for use as a water source and way to create ice blocks that were used in transport to keep the hospital’s food shipments cold. After farming operations ceased, the park land was developed and maintained as a park by neighborhood volunteers. As a park, Greer was popular for many years as a wedding photo location and for its playground. The park has not seen any significant upgrades in facilities or environmental sustainability in recent years, and use of the park has decreased. The Township is consulting with the public to create a plan that will focus on revitalizing the park, by increasing sustainability, speaking to the park’s history, and re-establishing Greer Park as a vibrant community asset, to serve residents of all ages and abilities.
HIDDEN RIVER PARK AND PRESERVE
URDC in coordination with Spillman Farmer Architects, began developing Hidden River Park and Preserve for East Pikeland Township. After examining a site development plan completed in 2021, the Township requested suggestions for improvement to site flow and circulation for 5 acres of the park. A conceptual plan was made that maintained structures from an old barn that used to exist at the site, while also introducing new elements such as ADA accessible paths, a stage for small events, a nature play space and paved parking.
LINDBERG PARK MASTER PLAN
Lindberg Park was originally farm land, prior to the development of the surrounding homes beginning in the 1960's. After a master plan was prepared in 1971, the site was developed as a park with several improvements made over the years. This highly utilized neighborhood park was covered with mature trees and facilities such as two playgrounds, a Little League baseball field, tennis and basketball courts.
URDC worked with the Township to further establish the park while retaining its character of a quiet neighborhood park that has a safe natural feel. Several goals of the new park master plan were to enhance connections around the park and neighboring communities, incorporate green principle renovations, and remove/replace facilities that were no longer being used.
MONOCACY PARK MASTER SITE DEVELOPMENT PLAN & MEMORIAL POOL FEASIBILITY STUDY
URDC in coordination with Spillman Farmer Architects and Wallover Architects, Inc. developed the Monocacy Park Master Site Development Plan and Memorial Pool Feasibility Study for the City Of Bethlehem. The plan began with an analysis of existing recreation opportunities and site conditions at the park, examines recreation potentials to meet the needs of under or un-served populations within the limitations imposed by site conditions, incorporates public ideas and feedback, then proposes design recommendations and finishes with a prioritized phasing plan.
This plan is accompanied by a pool feasibility study, speaking to the need and presenting recommendations for renovations to Memorial Pool and the Memorial Pool Bathhouse. The pool feasibility study was developed in close cooperation with the City’s current administration, who is committed to the renovation of the facility.
The Memorial Pool and Bathhouse improvements are currently under construction with the first phase of the park rehabilitation.
ROYERSFORD GATEWAY PARK
As a follow-up to the Royersford Riverfront Master Plan, URDC devised a concept for a gateway park which would welcome travelers to the historic borough and link the commercial district to the riverfront pedestrian trail. URDC prepared final architectural drawings and specifications for the park improvements, assisted in the bidding of the project and award of contract. URDC also observed all work in progress during the construction of the project.
ROYERSFORD RIVERFRONT PARK
URDC prepared a park and recreation plan for Royersford Borough in Montgomery County, PA. The Borough then retained us to prepare a master plan for creating a park and trail along their Schuylkill River open space corridor, which is part of the Schuylkill River Greenway. Following that master plan, we designed and oversaw construction of the first phase of a riverfront trail and green space aimed at beautifying this area and enhancing recreation opportunities along the waterfront.
SCOTT TOWNSHIP MASTER SITE DEVELOPMENT PLAN
This park master plan, partially funded by DCNR, includes all three of the Scott Township owned parks. This community of just over 5000 residents is on par with the national average of residents per municipal park. On the other hand, Scott Township falls very short on the amount of park average per 1000 residents with less than 8 acres of total park land. Part of this study was to see if one of the parks could be eliminated to reduce overall maintenance costs. It was discovered that each park functions in a different capacity from one another and they each have unique traits that make them an asset to the community. Coupled with the lack of acreage, the case was strong to retain all three.
The developed plans focused on the individual assets of each park and enhanced those traits. Each park was analyzed for how it would best function for the community. The park plans do not attempt to provide everything in each park, rather have all three work together achieve this goal. Park improvements were ranked by the steering committee in order of preference. Recommendations included updating play equipment, providing access for all and converting an infrequently used basketball court to pickleball. A phased development plan corresponded to the municipal budget. URDC wrote grants for the implementation of Phases 1 and 2. Phase 1 improvements will be installed in 2022.
TREXLER GAME PRESERVE
Lehigh County hired URDC to create a master site plan to further develop and preserve the County’s 1,100 acre Trexler Game Preserve. This unique site is home to buffalo, elk, and palamino horses, in addition to local wildlife. URDC worked with County staff and the Trexler Trust to develop resource preservation guidelines and lay out a multi-use, non-motorized trail system on the site.
UPPER DARBY TOWNSHIP PARKS MASTER PLAN
Aberdeen, Guilford and Michele Parks are three small pockets of land in dense residential neighborhoods in Upper Darby Township, a suburb to the west of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At present, all three pocket parks present mature trees, and some remnant design elements from past planning initiatives. Handicapped access and stormwater management are lacking.
The Final Master Site Plan recommends that the parks be completely revitalized and re-created to meet the goals of the Township and to maximize the land for use as a passive respite for residents as well as birds and insects. New curbing and wide ADA compliant concrete sidewalks, native plants and street trees, rain gardens, interpretive signs and seating are proposed. The improvements will bring new life and more visitors to these three small underutilized green spaces. The parks will become renewed community assets that can encourage the revitalization of the surrounding community and increase neighborhood home values.
UPPER MOUNT BETHEL TOWNSHIP, PA
Upper Mount Bethel is a rural community along the Delaware River near the Delaware Water Gap. URDC prepared a master plan to guide the phased development of the Township’s first large park primarily devoted to accommodations for organized sports. URDC wrote an extensive plan, working with the public, to provide a well-designed plan that could be developed in phases as funding became available. The plan allowed for continued framing and preservation of a barn to be renovated and re-purposed. Our staff members assisted the community in acquiring and administering state grants funds to develop this 90-acre site. URDC then prepared the engineering drawings for two development phases and assisted the Township in monitoring park construction.
VICTORY PARK ADA ACCESSIBLE PLAYGROUND IMPROVEMENTS
Royersford Borough, in Mongomery County, retained URDC to develop an ADA accessible and inclusive playground with an existing park. The project's scope established a vibrant and welcoming ADA accessible playground with ADA pathways connecting restrooms, parking, the playground and 2nd Ave entrance. Pathways include decorative nodes at key intersections with ADA benches, trash receptacles and wayfinding signs. Interpretive signs will educate users about the park's history and the natural environment. The parking will be striped for efficient parking and to identify two van accessible spaces. An entrance arch and safety fence along busy 2nd Ave was put in place to prevent children from running into the road. Landscaping & rain gardens with native plants will be incorporated.
WAYNE A. GRUBE MEMORIAL PARK
URDC created a nine-phase master plan to transform 200 acres of County-owned farmland into Weaversville County Park, now known as Wayne A. Grube Park. URDC’s plan recommended athletic facilities, large-group picnic areas, expansive lawn areas, a nature preserve and a pathway system. URDC assisted Northampton County in securing grant funds. In cooperation with Hanover Engineering, we then prepared engineering plans and monitored construction of two park development phases. URDC's plan recommended the first of its kind to reforest 9 acres abandoned farmland in Phase I.
WEONA PARK MASTER SITE DEVELOPMENT PLAN
URDC completed a master plan for Weona Park, the only public park in Pen Argyl, PA. The 19 acre park has been part of the fabric of community life in the Borough since 1921. An additional 15 acres of land was purchased to add Weona Park, which prompted the Borough to create a new master plan which would integrate the existing park facilities with the new land. In the planning process, URDC, with strong input from Pen Argyl residents, developed a plan that blended existing park features with proposed facilities most desired by the public. The plan focused on providing:
Safe accessible connections
Recreational opportunities for residents of all ages and abilities