Inequity in Access to Parks in Westfield, MA

This research project examined how accessible and equitable parks are in Westfield, MA. This is an important topic because access to parks can be a critical health indicator. Parks promote healthy behavior, have positive mental health benefits and provide socialization that is vital to child development. (Talen, Emily. “The Spatial Logic of Parks) Equitable quality of parks to the population they are serving is more important than having the same level of access. While low-income groups may live closer to parks, the parks aren’t guaranteed to be the same quality and provide a safe environment that enables opportunity for physical activity and other health benefits. In the site analysis three parks in Westfield were analyzed on a variety of characteristics, including park features, available parking, sidewalk condition, crosswalks, road speed, distance to schools, distance to bus stops, available public facilities, etc. These frameworks were used to evaluate the accessibility and the quality of each park. Additionally a network analysis was performed in ArcGIS to create a 5, 10 and 15 minute walking time buffer zone around each park that shows the distance you could walk to a park in 15 minutes or under. It’s anticipated that the results of this study will find that Westfield lacks an adequate number of parks for the population size, and inequitable to the downtown population. The results can be used to identify areas that have inequitable access to parks and could be potential sites for new parks in the city.