Park Experts Gather in Charlotte, NC, May 7-8

Charlotte, NC – Many of the nation’s leading experts on parks will convene in Charlotte May 7th and 8th for Great Cities, Great Parks – a forum sponsored by the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and co-sponsored by Bank of America, Cousins Properties Incorporated, Levine Properties, and the Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation Department. The meeting at the Marriott City Center will explore the latest trends and developments in park creation and management and how they can be applied in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

Featured speakers include Alexander Garvin, author of “Parks, Recreation and Open Space: A 21st Century Agenda,” who will outline “A Park Agenda for the 21st Century” in his keynote speech to regional government officials at noon on May 7th. Garvin, a New York City Planning Commission member, has combined a career in urban planning and real estate with teaching, architecture and public service. He is now an adjunct professor of urban planning and management at Yale University.

The forum is open to the public on Tuesday, May 8 at a cost of $25, to register visit or call 704-376-1839. Peter Harnik, author of “Inside City Parks,” the first in-depth study of the nation’s city park systems, will kick off the public portion of the forum by revealing “How Charlotte’s Park System Compares with Other Big Cities.” Harnik, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental writer and activist, completed his two-year study of park and recreation systems of the nation’s 25 largest cities last July with the support of TPL and the Urban Land Institute. Other speakers include park experts and practitioners from Phoenix, New York City, Louisville, Chattanooga, Denver, Atlanta, Tampa, Durham, Raleigh, Boston and Chicago.

“One factor that makes a city truly great is a great system of parks and open space, including squares, promenades, sports fields, forests, boulevards, water-lined greenways, and much more,” says Bridgett Thompson, TPL’s North Carolina program director and coordinator of the forum. “We have acquired thousands of acres of open space in and around Charlotte over the past 30 years, but we still don’t have a vibrant, interconnected system of open spaces that serves all our neighborhoods and all our needs. We hope that citizens and leaders from around the region will join us at the forum to learn about what other cities have done to create great parks and what’s planned here in Charlotte.”

Vic Howie, senior vice president of Bank of America and a participant in the forum, said, “Parks and green space are vital to making a city feel like a true home. We can – and should – have multiple parks. We need parks throughout our city. A visitor from Germany once remarked of Charlotte: “You have built a city in a forest.” We should make sure that others can share those sentiments for years to come.” Bank of America is the corporate underwriter of the forum. Cousins Properties Incorporated and Levine Properties are also helping to sponsor the event.

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. Across the nation, TPL has helped protect more than one million acres, valued at $2 billion. In North Carolina, TPL’s conservation projects include the Mountain Island Lake Initiative, which has protected more than 1,800 acres of watershed at Mountain Island Lake. The Wall Street Journal’s SmartMoney magazine recently named TPL the nation’s most efficient large conservation charity, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs. For more information, please visit our Web site at