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Tributary pathway leads to a play pocket tucked into the forest.
Riverpoint ParkHinshaw GreenwaySouth Creek Linear Park
Springfield, Missouri
The Springfield R-12 School District and the Springfield-Greene County Park Board have worked diligently over the years to develop a strong collaborative relationship that continues to result in successful, cooperative projects that enhance the quality of life for the whole community. Jodie Adams, Director of the Springfield-Greene County Parks, is enthusiastic about infusing play into citizens everyday lives and sets a high priority on creating Springfield-Greene County’s first playful pathway. Adams, dedicated leader of a Gold Medal department, says, “We are responsible for enriching the lives of our citizens, especially children. The Parks Department is dedicated to being a leader in creating a healthy environment where people live, work, and play.”

The “blue” site (circled, top left map opposite), containing the South Creek Linear Park Trail, was selected because of its proximity to the Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park site which hosts the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center and a new NatureGround playground. The existing trail winds through the creek corridor andis surrounded by lush vegetation. Development of play pockets was an easy task because the pathway frequently crosses park property where the corridor width is not an issue. Where the trail traverses negotiated easements on private property the corridor is typically limited to 30 feet in width. Additional width to accommodate play pockets would require legally challenging negotiations with landowners and neighborhood associations. Geographic Information System (GIS) was used to assemble base information.

For the master plan, additional pathway connectors were considered that would allow more users to reach the pathway directly from their homes, rather than by crossing busy streets, so that children and their parents would feel more secure. If the planners and developers had considered pedestrians and cyclists before the neighborhood parcels were allocated, connectors could have been added without disruption. Adding connectors after land has been parceled out is more challenging. Fortunately, recent planning and zoning regulations in Springfield-Greene County require new developments to provide connections to existing pathways or to dedicate easements to future pathways. Also, sidewalks are required for access to existing or proposed greenways.

The master plan recommends the addition of loops to existing pathways in two locations: the schoolyard, which allows neighborhood users to take a looping, more interesting stroll; and for the new playground, which allows direct access from the playful pathway. Potential play pockets (green dots) are located at pathway entrances and exits (nodes) and at approximately 500-foot intervals along the way.

Play pocket locations were selected using GIS and aerial photography. Spacing was adjusted to fit node locations and at open areas with favorable topography. Field verification was necessary to examine the actual sites and to make appropriate adjustments. A further limitation was the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Floodway corridor (dashed blue lines) which was mapped in GIS. In cases where it is not possible to avoid the floodway, a floodplain development permit may be obtained through local regulatory authorities.
Trail Alignments
Trail alignment showing potential play pocket locations.
Close Memorial Park
Friends climb and socialize in their new “trees” located in a play pocket along the pathway at the Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park.
South Creek Linear Park Planning
Representatives from city and county agencies worked together to plan the first Springfield-Greene County’s playful pathway.
Sprinfield Greene County Botanical Garden Center
The Springfield-Greene County Botanical Garden Center and Complex becomes a meaningful destination for families and school groups. A NatureGround playground is strategically placed at the trail head as an inviting destination that encourages families to also explore the various pathway play pockets, butterfly gardens, and planted mazes.
Springfield Greene County Trail Development
Three Springfield-Greene County sites (circled flags) were considered for installation of playful pathways based on their proximity to existing greenway/linear park trails and schools. Trail development potential was assessed utilizing the Pathways for Play guidelines (chart right).
Trail Development Potential Checklist
Trail development potential checklist.
Playful Trail Play Pockets
The first phase of the playful trail containing five play pockets is located around Drummond Lake by Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center and Complex.
Program developed in partnership with:
PlayCore Natural Learning Initiative
© 2010 PlayCore, Inc. and Natural Learning Initiative,College of Design,
NC State University.
All rights reserved.
Pathways for Play is a trademark of PlayCore.
Connecting meaningful
destinations such
as playgrounds and
parks is an important
function of playful
pathways. Residents
of all ages can walk
or bike to the park
and explore its natural
settings. Parents and
children can play
together in a space
that is accessible to all.
My Path - Interactive activities for pathway play
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Independent mobility,
away from traffic danger,
is an essential factor
in middle childhood,
supporting a sense
of autonomy and self-
efficacy, enabling
children to fully engage with their friends and