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Re-imagining County Fairground Spaces as Year-round Park Spaces

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Site: Delaware County Fairgrounds, Muncie Indiana

Introduction

            This research examines how Delaware County Fairgrounds, Muncie Indiana, can be used as a park that offers opportunities for recreation and event-hosting. The study focusses on how Fairgrounds can serve the neighboring residential communities without losing its traditional role as venue that is always used to host the annual county fair. In this regard, various facilities available at Delaware Fairgrounds were considered with the reference to how they work. Additionally, in regard to different Urban Design practices and trends, the diverse needs and requirements were taken into account and it was estimated how they can be effectively incorporated in the spatial aspects of the site.

Delaware Fairgrounds

            One of the major events that takes place at Fairgrounds is the Delaware County Fair. The event has a long history of offering people a common ground to share and exchange ideas (Delaware County). The event also gives people an opportunity to demonstrate various skills and exhibit their goods. Additionally, it is a means of recreation and entertainment as well as a chance to learn for the individuals who attend the fair. The site features a number of buildings and open grounds that are often rented out for events. The combination of the constructions and the uncovered gardens makes the place a suitable location for expos, reunions, wedding receptions, and vendor fairs.

            Some of the key buildings at the grounds include the Heartland Hall, Memorial Building, and Community Building. The entire Heartland Hall measures about 60 by 200 feet and has a dining and a theater capacity of 650 and 775 people respectively (Delaware County). Some of the key areas in the building include a kitchen, a meeting room, and 3 assembly rooms (Delaware County). The facility has a sound system that can be used within the hall and is available for rent upon payment of a fee that is billed on a daily basis. The Meeting Room can hold up to 20 persons while the theatre can accommodate 35 people (Delaware County). The room has tables, seats, sound system, and a refrigerator.

            The Memorial Building offers attractive indoor spaces with asphalt floor to the visitors who prefer enclosed spaces. The facility has the total area of 18000 square feet (90 by 200 feet). The maximum number of guests the building can accommodate is 1200 (Delaware County). Some of the things that can be rented here include tables, chairs, and refrigerators. The hall is available for rent every day of the week at the same rate of $400 per day (Delaware County). The Community Building hall measures 100 by 200 feet, and its floor is made of concrete. It is also available for renting every day for $300 per day (Delaware County). The facility rentals are perfect for the occasions when spacious indoor locations are needed to conduct activities such as class reunions and birthday parties.

            The geographical location of Delaware Fairgrounds makes it convenient for a wide range of occasions. The site is situated close to Ball State University and Downtown Muncie which makes it a perfect location for the people looking for an attractive place for different events. Some of the amenities that exist on site include camping facilities with 172 spots and common use showers as well as a dump station (Delaware County). One of the outstanding services offered at Fairgrounds is the free Wi-Fi that provides internet connection over the entire park and a separate network apart from the general one for its vendors. Both the indoor and outdoor spaces make the venue a great choice for many people from the neighborhood and beyond.

Belle Isle Park

            The analysis allows one to understand the various prerequisites that make the sites successful and how the same can be replicated elsewhere. In this regard, the next section analyzes Belle Isle Park located in Detroit, Michigan in the United States.

Belle Isle Park appears to have what it takes to function as a year round park. The choice of Belle Isle Park is informed by the fact that it is one of the oldest recreation sites in the USA. Like Delaware Fairgrounds, the park has a long history that has been marked by a lot of significant transformations over the years from the time of its establishment. Belle Isle is the biggest island park in the U.S. with a total land area of 900 acres and it has been serving people since 1880 (Liang and Crawford 21). The park features a mix of green spaces, access to water, and various active recreational amenities.

            Some of the key events that are sometime hosted at the Belle Isle Park include music festivals, soccer matches, and auto racing. The park has a tradition that stretches many years back when the venue was used to host various music performances. Currently, the management of the park has plans to bring back music performances with the shows meant to take place on Sunday afternoons (Project for Public Spaces). In the past years, the venue has played host to some of the most successful music performances in the region. Belle Isle Park has demonstrated how such recreational spaces can be used to attract huge audience and raise funds that can be used to manage or run the facility.

            Additionally, the Belle Isle Park is a home to auto racing activities which attract lots of both participants and viewers. Auto racing in the park began in 1992 with the creation of a temporary circuit that was meant for cart races (Project for Public Spaces). Over the years, the park has hosted a series of racing events which has seen the racing track undergo renovations several times. There are annual races that are hosted at the park in the month of June which have today become a major source of attraction to many people around the place and across the United States (Project for Public Spaces). Further, Belle Isle is used as the home ground for the Detroit Football League; however, at the moment the condition of the site does not allow it to serve this purpose.

            From the analysis of Belle Isle Park, several critical points emerge. They include the permeability of the site, accessibility, and the spillover effect; the harmony between the managerial decisions, varied interests of the public, and the purpose of the park; the environmental conditions, diverse social influences, and their consequences. A well-functioning park calls for engagement with diverse people as well as social activities (Beveridge). Therefore, the location of a park influences its economic and social benefits. Belle Isle Park is conveniently located in a place that should allow to attract as many people as possible.

            One of the main reasons behind the creation of parks is to serve the neighborhoods within which they are located and people in general. Therefore, visitors should be involved in every stage of development of a park. However, in the case of Belle Isle, the people have not been engaged in the process from the very beginning, i.e. the time the site where it rests was acquired (Liang and Crawford 32). Community participation is important in the process of making great public spaces because, when people are involved, they share their ideas and feel like they are a part of the project. Therefore, the Belle Isle Park should not only be subject to the management by the local government exclusively; instead, the community should be allowed to be a part of the ownership as well as the management.

Benefits of Park Space to Surrounding Community  

            Parks offer great locations for neighborhood residents to meet and interact with one another and encounter new people. Also, parks offer nice spaces for various events as well as for individuals to engage in diverse recreational activities (Larson et al. 12). The meeting and interactions allow people residing in a neighborhood to develop a sense of community. Furthermore, when people come together, they are able to make their communities safer (Rakhshandehroo and Yusof). The communities living around Delaware Fairgrounds and Belle Isle Park, too, can draw similar benefits from the site by taking advantage of their proximity to the grounds and facilities.

            Parks provide people with an opportunity to protect the natural ecosystems. The essence of having parks is not limited to the direct benefits that they offer human beings alone. Parks offer natural habitats for diverse animal and plant species. They provide living organisms with natural surroundings especially those that have been displaced by urban sprawl (Loures and Costa 453). Having a system of many parks within a city ensures that different living organisms have a chance of existing in the urban area (Sadeghian and Vardanyan 232).

            Parks also provide a place where people can engage in various physical activities. Many people in the city are at risk of developing lifestyle diseases due to sedentary way of life (Sadeghian and Vardanyan 233). Such health conditions include obesity, heart diseases, as well as certain kinds of cancer. Some of the features of parks to promote physical activities include hiking trails as well as cycling and jogging tracks.

Conclusion

            Delaware Fairgrounds in Muncie, Indiana is one of the sites with long history and is often used for annual events rather than year-round occasions. In this regard, the study considered the current uses, the existing facilities at the site, and opportunities for improvement to host events any time of the year. The site has open ground that is good for outdoor events and three key buildings that are suitable for visitors who prefer indoor setting. Also, the Belle Isle Park, which is an all-year-round site in Detroit Michigan, was examined in this study. Unlike Delaware Fairgrounds, Belle Isle Park has a wide range of attractions which include racing tracks, an aquarium, nature center, football pitch, and conservatory center. The amenities make the park a suitable place to relax, learn, exercise, and meet as a community. The success of the park is linked to its accessibility and the involvement of the community. The same can be replicated for Delaware Fairgrounds. Incorporating more features that are aimed at promoting indoor activities ensures that as many people as possible can come into the park and enjoy the various benefits that it has to offer at any season.

References

Delaware County. Facility Rentals. n.d. November 2018, www.delawarecountyfair.net/facility-rentals/.

Larson, Lincoln, Viniece Jennings and Scott Cloutier. "Public Parks and Wellbeing in Urban Areas of the United States." Plos One, vol. 11, no. 4, 2016.

Liang, Hanbing and Pat Crawford. "Unearthing Elements of Successful Park Master Planning: A Case Study of Belle Isle Park, Detroit, Michigan." Current Urban Studies, vol. 6, no. 1, 2018, 21-36.

Loures, Luis and Laura Costa. "The Role of Urban Parks to Enhance Metropolitan Sustainability: The Case of Oporto." Inetrnational Journal of Energy and Environment, vol. 6, no. 4, 2012, 453-461.

Project for Public Spaces. Case Studies: Great Public Spaces, 2018, www.pps.org/places/belle-isle-park.

Rakhshandehroo, Mehdi and Mohd Yusof. "The Environmental Benefits of Urban Open Green Spaces." n.d June 2017. Researchgate.

Sadeghian, Mohammad and Zhirayr Vardanyan. "The Benefits of Urban Parks, a Review of Urban Research." Journal of Novel Applied Sciences, vol. 2, no. 8, 2013, 231-237.

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