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Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plans

​Planning parks, recreation, and open space plans had been another of URDC’s specialties since the firm’s founding. We have prepared plans for many communities, regions, states, and have even prepared topical studies for the federal government. URDC also prepares plans for specialized recreation facilities, such as lakes and reservoirs. We have worked not only throughout Pennsylvania and Maryland, but in high-profile areas such as East Hampton (NY) and Beaufort County (SC), the home of world-class resort Hilton Head Island.

Our work with the federal government included developing the concept of “recreation carrying capacity”, the idea that any specific recreation facility has an identifiable capacity that helps determine the need for additional facilities. We worked with the U.S.  Army Corps of Engineers (CoE) to analyze the need for recreation facilities at various CoE sites nationwide.

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​Abington is a large, older, inner-ring suburb adjacent to the City of Philadelphia. URDC authored a comprehensive park, recreation and open space plan for this municipality that recommended ways to improve existing parks, acquire new parkland, create new program opportunities, expand trails, and refine the Township’s approach to administering all of its  recreation-related services.



URDC worked with the recreation department, staff and residents to assess the existing conditions at each of the City's 40 parks and public properties. URDC compared the City's existing recreation facilities, land, programming, operations and department budgets, to norms established by the NAtionsal Recreation and Park Association based on data collected from recreation agencies across the country. The study analyzed the strengths and weakness of the City's recreation system, developed priortities and recommendations within each study area. Historic park structures and five pool facilities were also included as part of the study. An immediate outcome of the study was the action by the City to begin planning renovations to the largest community pool and bath house.



Home of the state capital of Pennsylvania, and Hershey Foods, URDC inventoried each of the 150+ local, county, and state parks in the county.  In addition, we worked with local officials and stakeholders to identify key land areas to be preserved as a greenway system, which became a proposed system of more than 350 miles.  The system also incorporated the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and the Susquehanna River National Recreation Trail. 



Luzerne County in northeastern Pennsylvania retained URDC to analyze the feasibility of the County expanding its role in recreation by assuming control and operation of several regionally-serving parks and trails. URDC personnel organized cost estimates for completing and sustaining these recreation resources. We then recommended how the County Commissioners could create, fund and staff a new authority to mange this new responsibility.



Since the 1980's URDC has been preparing land preservation, recreation and parks plans for numerous Maryland counties, including Caroline, Howard, Prince Georges, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester. To continue qualifying for state Program Open Space grants, these plans must document land acquisition priorities, park improvements needs and regional trail initiatives.



This plan was an update to a 2009 Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan for North Whitehall Township. The Township wrote the plan to address concerns over the loss of open space and to plan for recreation needs into the future, An analysis revealed gaps in recreation availability and compared the Township's recreation opportunities to those of similar communities across 7 metrics. Concept sketches were provided for all 7 of the Township's parks with prioritized estimates based on existing revenues. Prioritized recommendations included planning for an equitable distribution of parks and facilities throughout the Township, increasing wildlife habitat and planning for future sustainability of the Township's Recreation Department. 



Upper Mount Bethel Township is historically rural area feeling development pressures. Residents want to preserve farm land and open space. The Township had limited land designated for recreation and a growing population until the acquisition of a 90-acre parcel. A goal of this plan was to inventory the Township's critical and sensitive habitat areas, to analyze current and projected demographics, to assess recreation needs of residents, and to describe how the Township's current recreation facilities and programs relate to regional facilities and programs. Additional aspects of this plan were to assist the Township to develop goals and set priorities, and to create a funding strategy for future improvements. This plan resulted in the creation of a Park Master Plan for the 90-acre parcel, followed by development plans.

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