For many small community organizations, taking on all aspects of public space management can be challenging. Particularly when staffing and financial resources are scarce, it simply may not be possible for an organization to manage the programming, maintenance, and financing aspects of a new public space alone.
This section of the guide explores organizations, programs, and/or partnerships that have developed to support public space managers. The specific focus varies by initiative, but activities in this framework often include technical assistance, subsidized direct services, or both.
Maintenance and/or technical assistance partnerships can be an effective way to distribute the obligations of public space management over several organizations. Small organizations may be more likely to become involved in public space management when responsibilities are shared, as such an arrangement reduces burdens on staff and financial resources. Partnerships allow organizations to focus on the public space management roles they are most well-equipped to fill and, at the same time, create opportunities for sharing ideas and best practices. Finally, partnerships have the potential to broaden the base of community support for a public space by widening the circle of stakeholders.
WEAKNESSES AND LIMITATIONS
By spreading responsibilities, maintenance and/or technical assistance partnerships create a less centralized approach to management. If the partnership is not well-coordinated, there is a risk that projects will become unwieldy, or that details will fall through the cracks. For the partnership to be successful, it is essential that roles and expectations are clearly defined.
The sustainability of this model is dependent on successful capacity building among local public space managers. The provision of subsidized services or technical assistance can be very valuable for low-capacity organizations taking on the role of public space manager for the first time. But, it is essential that the assistance framework includes a clear path to increased self-sufficiency for public space stewards as they grow their skill and knowledge base.