Types of Planning Documents

There are many types of planning documents used for parks and recreation. Below are a few of the types with a basic description of its content. Plans will vary by jurisdiction as needs vary based on local differences such as population, economics or even the existing park system.

Plan Descriptions

Example Documents

Other Resource Links


Plan Descriptions

Comprehensive: Known as a system-wide plan, the plan can be focused on the entire park system, a greenway or trail system or open space inventory.

Physical Plans: May include a site specific master plan for one particular park, a facility plan for a specific function such as trail layout or a recreation center design.

Action Plans: Document that outlines steps to move forward. May be called another name or focus on a specific area as in strategic, management, service or safety plans.

Capital Improvement Plan (CIP): Varies by local government, but sometimes called a capital improvement program or capital outlay plan. CIP typically outlines both short and long-range physical development needs. CIP works as a link between a local government’s comprehensive plan and fiscal plan, functioning as a tool for: Estimating capital requirements; Planning, prioritizing, scheduling and implementing projects in the near future (6-10 years for example); Developing revenue policy; Budgeting high priority projects to meet needs; Inter-departmental or inter-fund coordination between departments or partners; Informing the public of planned improvements.

The CIP lists all capital expenditures that a local government has approved and scheduled for in the near future.

Related Planning Document Components:

  • Survey of Recreation Needs: Sometimes called a needs assessment. The survey component implies public input and involvement.
  • Park Inventory & Assessment: This document fully describes an inventory of park facilities or open space (property) and assesses the condition or status of the inventory through evaluation. The results help determine future demands for maintenance, replacement and adequacy of existing facilities to meet current and future needs.
  • Level of Service (LOS) Standards: Current (best) practice in determining park standards based on assessment of community needs. This method recognizes that every community has different levels of needs; therefore standards are individualized for local conditions. LOS examines minimum acceptable facilities for every community, determining land requirements for various types of park facilities and spatial analysis of recreational needs system wide.

For more information on developing a LOS for your community visit the NRPA website to purchase the text: Park, Recreation, Open Space and Greenway Guidelines, by Mertes and Hall.

  • Other Assessments: Some communities have completed assessments for specific information such as meeting requirements of ADDAG. Many older parks and/or facilities should go through an assessment, or evaluation to determine if facilities meet today’s building code and ADA access requirements.


Example Documents

This section contains various types of planning documents for you to use as an example when preparing similar documents for your agency. These documents were not selected as “models” or “best practices”. The user must evaluate each to determine whether it is useful, appropriate or legal for the user’s particular need. These documents were not created or reviewed by RRS. The content and links on this page are provided as an example only. RRS accepts no responsibility in nor make any representation about the content of listed documents.

Local Government Documents

  • North Carolina Local Government Document Warehouse (UNC School of Government): Variety of documents developed by local governments and submitted to the School of Government to share examples with other local governments. Search for “recreation” to locate specific examples: http://nclgdocs.unc.edu/

Park and Recreation Plans

(Online access to other websites)

  • City of Durham: (in the update process! stay tuned)

Request for Proposals (RFP) / Request for Qualifications (RFQ)

Comprehensive Planning Documents

Site Specific Park Plan

Facility Construction:

  • Architectural and Engineering Services, County (example needed)

Planting / Landscape:

Public Input Surveys – Examples Needed

Large Population Community

Small Population / Rural community

Thank you to the agencies sharing example documents. If you have a good example you would like to share, please let us know.

Contact Charlynne Smith: c_smith@ncsu.edu


Other Resource Links

  • NC Public Schools Planning and Design Clearinghouse: provides school related design information including playgrounds. Also provides links for construction costs, feasibility checklists, state contracts information and Child Care Facility rules. http://www.schoolclearinghouse.org/