FOCUS GROUP SUMMARY

#4 – Shared Community Areas, Green and Open Spaces

The Vision and Values Shared Community Areas, Green, and Open Spaces Focus Group met virtually on September 20, with 32 participants attending the session. Future iQ introduced the format of discussion for the evening, the purpose being to explore the three questions below as they related to the topic of shared community areas, green, and open spaces.

Participants were randomly assigned to breakout groups of 5-8 and asked to report back to the large group. The following paper synthesizes participant notes and live discussion of these questions; it concludes with some initial insights on the role shared community areas, green, and open spaces may play in planning for the future of Falmouth.

1. What are the key things we are learning about this topic - from the surveys, background information, future trends, and Discussion Board comments?

  • Survey responses seemed most enthusiastic about open space more than shared community space. Falmouth’s first open space was created 100 years ago. The use of open space during the pandemic skyrocketed, highlighting its value to the community.
  • Need to balance open space and how we use it. Important to preserve natural habitat (pollinator habitat) and prioritize environment and not just focus on human activities. 
  • Important to think about potential uses and compatible vs. incompatible uses of space (example of community park; is it a park/gathering space or a sports field?) while at the same time recognizing the importance of having different kinds of spaces for different kinds of uses.
  • Open space and climate change – makes us think about and plan for extreme weather events, especially high precipitation ones.
  • Falmouth residents like to recreate outdoors.

2. What are the one or two important potential future-splitting decisions or issues facing Falmouth, related to this topic; and, what are the implications and trade-offs of these different future directions?

 *(Definition of a future-splitting decision or issue: Something that represents a fork in the road, where future outcomes are significantly shaped by the decision or direction)

  • Future-splitting issue: Preservation of open space vs. the cost of housing. Open space areas and shared community space will be more and more valuable as population increases and demands for housing rise. Future affordability needs to be balanced. How much open space acquisition should occur?
  • Some future-splitting themes: Public vs. Private property; More rules and restrictions vs. Free and wild; what are we protecting, Nature and wildlife vs. Recreation and sports; active vs. passive open space.
  • Working from home has involved caring for children at the same time and has highlighted the need for open, shared and recreation spaces.

3. With regards to this focus group topic, where is the future ‘sweet spot’ for Falmouth?

*(Definition of a sweet spot: An optimal point or combination of factors or qualities)

  • A sweet spot for Falmouth would be the creation of Town Commons. This could be done by repurposing part of Community Park.
  • As a tie into the environmental focus group and climate change, having a greener Falmouth will be more important – plants are good for the environment.
  • Sweet spot is connectivity – to connect open spaces together and adding smaller micro-areas for people to gather. Open spaces should be convenient and accessible to everyone in the Town.
  • Sweet spot would be to emphasize preservation of open space within developments/neighborhoods; make a requirement through zoning laws and update policies.
  • Incorporate environmental stewardship into Town planning.

Consultant’s Insights:

  • Consideration could be given to ‘un-developing’ space or repurposing back to open space. Austin, TX, is an example to look to for reverting areas (built environment) back to green space.
  • Workplace transformation is impacting the importance of green and open spaces across the country. Communities will need to balance needs.
  • Connecting open spaces using natural connectivity can be emphasized using a nodes and modes approach to development.

MORE INFORMATION​

For more information about the Town of Falmouth Vision and Values project, please contact:

David Beurle, CEO
Future iQ
Phone: (612) 757-9190
david@future-iq.com

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