RDG in the Media: Where the People Are

May 18, 2023
Landscape Architecture Parks & Open Space

RDG's Mike Bell speaks to Recreation Management Magazine about how a multifaceted approach to public gathering places can connect people to place and encourage positive mental and physical well-being.

Recreation spaces have taken on new importance since the COVID pandemic. Outdoor places were some of the few spots people could gather during lockdowns, and once vaccinations were available and events and gatherings resumed, there was a pent-up desire to see and be seen.

There may be disagreement about whether the pandemic is “over,” but it seems everyone still believes in the power of outdoor space where the community can gather, play and celebrate. Design firms are increasingly seeking out public and private partnerships to develop these outdoor spaces; one such example of this is the ICON Water Trails project in Des Moines, Iowa, explained RDG Landscape Architect and Partner Mike Bell, ASLA in Recreation Management Magazine's latest issue. The project raised public and private funds for the project, including federal dollars, and the creation of access points and the mechanism for funding them are in progress.

Along with the many developers who are interested in being part of the revival of the river, including a major convenience store chain building a stadium, the ICON project was also able to get voters to approve two referenda. "The key to getting residents to go against the tide of political sentiment and raise their own taxes was to emphasize the benefits of improving water quality and creating exciting recreation opportunities," said Bell.

The result will be a destination for walkers, paddlers, bikers and anglers with education opportunities that allow the public to take an active role in maintaining the river systems in a way that will benefit the region in the future.

Click here to read more in the latest issue of Recreation Management Magazine about how landscape architects are finding funding and getting community buy-in for creative recreational amenities.

Written by Erin Van Zee, Communications Director