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Lithia Park Designated as One of 10 Great Public Spaces in America by the American Planning Association

APA Recognizes 30 Great Places in America
(Washington DC, or Chicago, IL – October 1, 2014)
The American Planning Association (APA) today announced that Lithia Park has earned the designation as one of the 10 Great Public Spaces for 2014.
The public is invited to a special celebration on Wednesday, October 1, at noon in Lithia Park. The festivities will be held in the lawn area above the Lower Duck Pond, otherwise known as the “Feast of Will Lawn.”
Each October during National Community Planning Month, APA’s Great Places in America program names 30 exemplary streets, neighborhoods and public spaces that add value to communities and foster economic growth and jobs. APA’s Great Streets, Great Neighborhoods and Great Public Spaces feature unique and authentic characteristics that have evolved from years of thoughtful and deliberate planning by residents, community leaders and planners.
"Recognizing these special places highlights the role planning plays in adding value to communities," said William Anderson, FAICP, president of APA. "Planners, working with others, help build better communities in a variety of settings, from urban to rural; the result - better neighborhoods, cities, and regions. We applaud these efforts and congratulate this year’s designees."
Since Great Places in America was launched in 2007, APA has designated 230 neighborhoods, streets and public spaces. Places are announced annually and represent the gold standard in terms of having a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement, and a vision for tomorrow.
New this year, APA is seeking input from the public for the “31st Great Place Designee.” Interested citizens can nominate their Great Place by commenting on APA’s Facebook page or via Twitter using hashtag #mygreatplace.  The “31st Great Place Designee” will be announced on Friday, October 31, 2014.
Lithia Park in Ashland, Oregon, is a 93-acre park that traces its roots to the discovery of a lithia water spring in the early days of the 20th Century. In 1914 the city passed a $175,000 bond measure to pipe the lithium water from the spring to the park, and hired John McLaren, who designed Golden Gate Park, to prepare and develop a landscape plan. McLaren's plan was reminiscent of Frederick Law Olmsted's designs, which included the construction of ponds, gardens, gazebos and numerous groves of native trees. The park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. In 2013, The Enders Memorial Shelter Gazebo, the only remaining of the three original gazebos in the park, was completely restored. Each year, upwards of 400,000 people attend the Oregon Shakespeare Festival hosted at the park. The festival is among the oldest and largest regional repertory theaters in the United States and has contributed $251 million to the region. To learn more click here.
In addition to Lithia Park in Ashland, Oregon being designated a great public space, the following nine other public spaces were also recognized:
Bayliss Park in Council Bluffs, Iowa, is the geographic and symbolic “town square” for the community. Using four corner entrances, Bayliss Park connects visitors with the surrounding commercial and residential areas of downtown as well as the bike trails that extend 40 miles throughout the community. The park also serves as the preferred site for many arts events, outdoor concert series, outdoor movies, weddings and major annual community events like "Celebrate CB," and the "Winterfest" lighting display. Over the past 10 years, a citizen steering committee for Bayliss Park has raised nearly $750,000 with the help of over 1,500 community members. The monies will be directed to the park's rehabilitation and renovation, including the creation of a master plan. To learn more click here.
Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island, which attracts upwards of 1 million visitors annually, re-opened to the public in 2014 following a restoration process as a result of Hurricane Sandy. The 3.5 mile “National Recreation Trail” offers a paved, public-access walkway to connect visitors with beautiful vistas, tunnels, long winding pathways and spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. The Cliff Walk originally took shape in the mid-to-late 19th century when owners of estates began creating a private system of drives and walks along their properties and public land. Today, the trail showcases those Victorian homes from the vantage point of their backyards. Rock formations along the trail create breath-taking drops of more than 70 feet in certain areas along the coastline, creating one of the most unique natural environments in the Northeast. Cliff Walk continues to be the most popular tourist attraction in Rhode Island. To learn more click here.
Delaware Park, a 350-acre park in Buffalo, New York, was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead in 1870. The park has been home to the Buffalo Zoo since 1875, and was home to the Pan-American Exposition of 1901, which attracted thousands of people with ornate, multicolored buildings and gothic statues, some of which remain today. The park was separated into two halves in 1962, when the Scajaquada Expressway was constructed through the park. Years of neglect and underfunding followed. The park’s condition was dramatically improved when the Olmsted Parks Conservancy took over funding and maintenance of the park system in 2004. Over the past decade, The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, the City of Buffalo, the County of Erie and The Urban Design Project developed the Plan for the 21st century, which created a framework for the restoration and enhancements of the parks, places, and parkways that comprise the Olmsted system. The Marcy Casino building, underwent a $1 million restoration in 2013, and future plans include a New York State Department of Transportation planning study to explore the potential for reducing, reconfiguring or removing the Scajaquada Expressway from the middle of the park altogether. To learn more click here.
The Great Plains Trails Network in Lincoln, Nebraska, a 131-mile trail network connecting parks, schools, commercial areas, colleges and universities, swimming pools, and major ball parks, has made Lincoln the 4th ranked city for bike commuting in the Midwest in comparison to cities with comparable populations. The recently approved LPlan 2040, which provides general trail guidance and supports network expansion, aims to provide access to the trail within one mile of every city resident. Last year, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Capital Plan was adopted to improve the trails network and introduce short- and long-range proposals for capital improvements. The trails network received a significant boost with the update to Lincoln's Downtown Master Plan in 2005, which began connecting the trails network to Lincoln's downtown street grid via protected bike lanes. Community groups continue to raise money for new construction, renovations and maintenance. To learn more click here.
Lake Mirror Park in Lakeland, Florida, is the centerpiece and crown jewel of the city's downtown area, hosting at least 18 major events each year that attract more than 170,000 people to community celebrations. Included among them is an annual Christmas parade and a classic car show. Designed in the 1920s, the newly renovated park is the result of an engaged group of local citizens, whose efforts secured the park's listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Subsequent initiatives for the park include the establishment of a Community Redevelopment Area and a master plan that was completed in 2010. While current efforts focus on guiding private development adjacent to the park to compliment and maximize the park's use, the existing 18-acre area provides ample open space for residents, employees, and visitors to recreate, socialize, or restfully enjoy the scenery. To learn more click here.
The Master Plan for the 36-acre Point State Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was completed last year thanks to a seven-year Point State Park Capital Renovation Project. A four-year grass roots public participation process to develop a master plan that would revitalize the aging appearance of the park started in 1999, 25 years after the park was completed and dedicated. Formerly a blighted industrial area, the park was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975. The park's Portal Bridge connects the city-side of the park to the river-side, allowing pedestrians to cross underneath the eight-lane interstate. It features 54,000 native plants that have inhabited the park since the mid-18th century, and the Fort Pitt Block House from 1764, the only authentic pre-Revolutionary War structure west of the Allegheny Mountains. A fountain at the park's tip, which sprays water 150 feet into the air, is a family favorite. To learn more click here.
Mount Rainier Vista and Montlake Triangle in Seattle, Washington, links the University of Washington, Red Square with Mount Rainier located 60 miles away. Framed by grand evergreen trees and campus buildings, the vista is heavily used by pedestrians moving about campus or arriving and departing from the surrounding Metro bus stops. Originally designed as open space by John C. Olmsted in 1915, Lower Vista features a large lawn flanked on either side by evergreen trees that provide a distinct framed view of the mountains. Just north is Sciences Quadrangle, which features Drumheller Fountain and Frosh Pond, a defining element of the Vista landscape. Upper Vista features collegiate gothic architecture lining both edges, a large lawn in the center divided by a central, wide asphalt path, and twelve Shirofugen flowering cherry trees gifted from Japan in 2014 to symbolize the 120 year history of Japanese and Japanese American students at the University. Future plans for Montlake Triangle include tree grove restoration, continuing the lawn, pathways and multimodel connections. To learn more click here.
One of the most famous enclosed public markets in the world, Reading Terminal Market is a collection of 76 locally-based merchants spread across 1.7 acres in a complex of buildings below the Reading Terminal Train Station. One of Philadelphia's top tourist attractions, Reading Terminal Market generates upwards of $50 million in annual sales from the 6 million-plus people who visit each year. Formerly an open air market in operation since 1860, Reading Terminal Market took its current form in 1892 and thrived as one of Philadelphia's leading sources of foodstuffs and provisions until the Great Depression. After earning its designation as a National Historic Landmark in the 1970s, the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority acquired the property in 1990 and implemented a top-to-bottom historic rehabilitation. The market today is also the site for free performing arts events, 75-minute walking tours led by food-writers and "Party for the Market," an annual celebration of is anniversary. Click here to learn more.
Designed by President Thomas Jefferson, The Lawn at the University of Virginia (UVA) is surrounded by residential and academic buildings, gardens, and at its focal point is the Rotunda, the most recognizable symbol of the University. Designed by Jefferson as the library, which reinforced his firm belief in the separation of church and state by designating the library as the head of his university, rather than a church as most modern American universities had at the time. The Lawn and the Academical Village are still used as residential, ceremonial and academic spaces as Jefferson originally intended. The space has also become a tourist destination, drawing 100,000 visitors per year. A renovation of the Rotunda, which involves restoration of historical features, improving infrastructure systems, and upgrading interior accommodations, including interpretive features, is slated for completion in July 2016.  Click here to learn more.
For more information about these neighborhoods/street/public spaces, as well as APA’s top 10 Great Streets and top 10 Great Public Spaces for 2014 [edit accordingly] and previous years, visit
For more about National Community Planning Month taking place throughout October visit
The American Planning Association is an independent, not- for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning -- physical, economic and social -- so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. Members of APA help create communities of lasting value and encourage civic leaders, business interests and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people's lives. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. For more information, visit

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