Stakeholders' Perceptions Of Pedestrian Accessibility To Green Infrastructure: Fort Worth's Urban Villages

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Stakeholders' Perceptions Of Pedestrian Accessibility To Green Infrastructure: Fort Worth's Urban Villages

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Title: Stakeholders' Perceptions Of Pedestrian Accessibility To Green Infrastructure: Fort Worth's Urban Villages
Author: Abrahams, Petrine M.
Abstract: Green infrastructure refers to a strategically managed network of natural and open spaces that provides ecological benefits for human and wildlife populations in urbanized areas (Benedict and McMahon, 2006; Sandstrom, 2002; Weber, Sloan, and Wolf, 2005). Recent studies demonstrate a relationship between green infrastructure, and human and ecological health in urbanized areas (Tzoulas et al. 2007; Wilson, 1986; Louv, 2008). By strategically increasing density and a mix of uses in existing, sparsely populated urban areas, the "urban village" model developed by the City of Fort Worth presents the opportunity to incorporate accessible green infrastructure in an urban environment in order to promote human health and ecological benefits within a pedestrian friendly, sustainable environment (Aldous, 1992; The Congress for New Urbanism, 2009). The Commercial Corridors Task Force in its Final Report (2002), listed as a criterion for urban village designation, parks and open space, in addition to public improvements and historic building stock. Very little is known however, about the availability and accessibility of green infrastructure in Fort Worth's urban villages.This research examined stakeholders' perceptions of pedestrian accessibility to green infrastructure (parks, trail connections, natural and open space networks and therefore, a more comprehensive understanding beyond parks and open space) within the urban villages as well as, a walkable distance beyond their perimeter. The accessibility factors used in this research focused primarily on distance, safety and physical barriers which are considered three of the most critical factors according to Van Herzele and Wiedemann (2002). Face-to-face interviews with individuals from the City of Fort Worth's planning department, neighborhood leaders and design professionals were conducted. Additional information regarding perceptions of pedestrian accessibility was obtained through passive field observation techniques (Marcus and Francis, 1998). Fort Worth's open space structure was assessed through Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in order to determine location and availability of green infrastructure. Transcripts of the interviews provided a narrative for analysis. Respondents' views were analyzed according to the constant comparative method (Merriam 1998). The findings of this research illustrated that although the stakeholders gave varying responses concerning the role and the importance of the parameters of accessibility (distance, safety and physical barriers), collectively, they affirmed the vital need for pedestrian accessible green infrastructure within and surrounding Fort Worth's urban villages. While the City rightly focused on economic redevelopment in its initial urban villages redevelopment plan, the findings suggested that the current scope of economic redevelopment needs to be expanded to include a more comprehensive understanding of the importance and role of green infrastructure.
Date: 2010-07-19
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