What makes a Rochester park great?

///What makes a Rochester park great?

So, I have a huge task ahead of me.  There are well over one hundred parks in Rochester and I’m going to visit them all.  Over the past few months I’ve only visited a few of the Rochester parks.  As I visit each one I add items to my list of things to look for and document.  Pictures become more targeted and specific and my commentary gets more detailed.  I am constantly developing my vision for what I want the finished site to look like.  Each Rochester park has things that make it unique (disc golf course) and things that make it the same as every other park (grass).

Ranking the Parks

As a teacher, when I hear “things in common” I immediately think of making comparisons.  If all the parks have an entrance, what park has the most obvious entrance?  There are literally eleven entrances to Durand-Eastman park.  Is there a “main” entrance?  Where should people go to first?  If all or even most of the parks have a playground, how will I judge each one?

Some playgrounds have obviously been put in in the last five years or so, having shiny plastic and painted metal that show little to no signs of weathering.  Others have dilapidated wood-based playgrounds that show the years of use.

Towards a Rubric

The best way grade something that isn’t “right or wrong” is with a rubric!  A rubric is comprised of multiple dimensions (criteria for grading), levels (grades like 1-5), and often include descriptors (a clear picture of what that grade level looks like).  The first place to start is coming up with dimensions to be graded.  This is where I need help!

I’m a family man and as such I have certain things that I look for at the parks I visit.  Playgrounds, safety, cleanliness and “line of sight” are criteria that I judge when visiting a Rochester park.  However, you might be an athletic sort of person that is unmarried and who has no children.  You might not care about playgrounds but care a lot about the number of soccer fields in a park.  How can I present an objective ranking of Rochester parks without first deciding what should be judged?

Criteria to Consider…or Not?

Some characteristics of a park have a great deal of weight when ranking.  Does the size of the park have this weight?  A small city park like Ellwanger and Barry Park (in my humble opinion) should not be capable of being ranked lower than Black Creek park simply because one is larger or smaller.  Likewise, can a park help that it has no water (creek, beach, lake, etc.) in or around it?  I personally love a  park with water.  However, Corbett’s Glen Nature Park should not be ranked higher than Barnard Park simply because it has a beautiful meandering creek that runs through the south end.

Here’s where you help:

What do you look for when you visit a Rochester park?  Here are a few things I look at.  If you have any suggestions for new dimensions, please suggest them below in the comments section.  Together we can help share the best information about the parks in Rochester!

By |2016-10-17T22:47:09-04:00June 13th, 2012|Blog|8 Comments


  1. Mark June 13, 2012 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    I could probably add some dimensions that only count towards the park’s average if they exist. For example, any water features, overall size of the park, etc. I’d love to hear what you look for when you visit a park!

  2. Helen June 13, 2012 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    Wow! This is going to be very comprehensive. First rubric I ever saw that actually made practical sense!

  3. Aussie Pete June 13, 2012 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    I actually think that the absence of significant natural features should be held against a park. A small park with an awesome playground should get top marks for being an awesome playground. But it should get a lower score overall when compared to a large park with a well-maintained pond/creek, a walking trail, deer at dusk, and a good playground.
    If I sort by playground the smaller park will rank higher, but overall, the second park gets the higher score. Of course this discriminates against urban parks. I can’t help that. 🙂

    • Mark June 13, 2012 at 11:08 pm - Reply

      Thanks! I can definitely take this into account when ranking a park 🙂

  4. JMG June 13, 2012 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    I would add something in regards to how much it offers. I like parks that offer a play ground, pond, nature walk area, etc….kind of like stations of activities…where you can make an afternoon of it. There are just so many times you can watch your kids swing and go down a slide before you’re dying from boredom. Also the uniqueness of the play area….I love how Abraham Lincoln park has the wood logs to play on… generic play grounds get a bit boring after a while….oh and shade…shade is important…as well as a nice seating area for parents to still see their kids but relax and talk….Also I would be interested in knowing about the neighborhood….crime statistics, pedophiles numbers…(though it may not be very PC…idk)….I also think about location….is it on a busy street or in the middle of no where?

  5. Kim June 13, 2012 at 11:38 pm - Reply

    I would include whether the park has bathrooms or outhouses and whether there is a source of drinking water. Some people may want to know if dogs are allowed.

    I would also add a section on trails that includes signage, length, whether bikes are allowed, if they are seasonal, etc.

    Looking forward to the finished site 🙂

  6. Mariah Sweet June 13, 2012 at 11:49 pm - Reply

    Post this one instead… I just finished a looong drive and my brains are half asleep 🙂

    This is an AWESOME idea, Mark! I’ve been waiting for something like this. Some additional dimensions to consider: noise/pollution level (e.g. Abe Lincoln natural playground is terrific, but kinda noisy because it’s on Empire), proximity to busy streets, fencing around playgrounds, shade level, access to bathrooms, access to food, graffiti presence, benches or seating areas for adults to sit on while watching kids, child visibility within playground (some structures conceal kids too easily), diversity of families (can be hard to gauge and may also not PC, but some parks deserve points for excellent diversity), dog park areas, skate bording areas, swimming/wading areas, accessibility (many parks are wheelchair friendly for kids/adults, but many are not), canal path or biking/hiking trail access, bug level, poison ivy sightings.

  7. Mark June 14, 2012 at 10:18 am - Reply

    I’m so happy for these great responses. For clarity’s sake, I’m seeing two different types of suggestions:
    1. Great things to report on when visiting a park (do they have bathrooms? are dogs allowed? etc.) and
    2. New dimensions to use in ranking the parks

    Some suggestions even overlap the two!

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