Integrating Green Spaces Into the Urban Environment


Christopher Tran, John Waters, Dario Kantardzic

Prof. Evan  Ross


December 2, 2014


As the human population grows within cities, the issue of overpopulation leads to increased urbanization. In a study titled, Effects of spatial form on urban commute for major cities in China (2014) , Zhao et al claim, “City compactness can be measured simply using urban spatial form or morphology: the more concentrated the built-up area, the more compact the city is” which shows the more people per square footage leads to a more crowded city. The many conveniences that buildings within cities offer attract large crowds of people in order to live, work, and attend school. In many cities that are becoming highly populated and more urbanized, the issue of not enough open space arises. Government officials in urban planning and public health departments have created open spaces called, green spaces in light of the issue of the large amount of urban development. According to the EPA website, green spaces are defined as “land that is partly or completely covered with grass, trees, shrubs, or other vegetation” (EPA, 2014), which includes “parks, community gardens, and bike paths” (EPA, 2014). Green spaces are beneficial to citizens in heavily populated and urbanized areas by promoting environmental health, sustainability, and local economy.

Changes are needed to urban planning strategies and a push for an increase in green spaces in underdeveloped areas such as Everett, Massachusetts would overall improve the quality of life for its citizens. With the approval of the Wynn proposal for a new casino by the Massachusetts Gambling Commission, the urban town residing on the outskirts of Boston will soon grow into an even more densely populated city with more urban development to accommodate the large casino resort and visitors, which will leave the city with little open green space for recreational use. There needs to be an integration of more green spaces such as parks and community gardens to preserve the well being of citizens, natural wildlife, and stimulate the local economy for small business owners from heavy urban development. People should care about the integration of more green spaces in urban environments because it directly correlates to the citizen’s environmental health, promotes sustainability in what would be lost from the natural environment due to construction, and stimulate the local economy. To resolve the problem of built environments becoming too uniform in urban dwellings, green spaces should be implemented in cities where there isn’t as much green spaces, such as Everett, Massachusetts. This would benefit the citizens and local wildlife because they will lose much in their towns shift into a heavily urbanized city and will be living in an unhealthy environment.

With the recent approval of the Wynn Casino Resort by the Massachusetts Gambling Commission to construct a casino in Everett, Massachusetts, there will need to be collaboration between the Wynn Commission board and city planning officials to establish an adequate plan for the citizens and visitors of the city. This plan should provide a healthy, sustainable, and economically beneficial environment. The construction of one of the first casinos in the state of Massachusetts will attract large crowds of visitors to the city to partake in the enjoyment and financial benefits of casinos. The Everett United website, a webpage dedicated to the support of the Wynn, claims the casino will establish “4,000 high-paying jobs with attractive benefits and training“ (Everett United, 2014) which would show how many people will be working in Everett, in addition to the assumed, large number of visitors as well. According to Suburban Stats, an organization dedicated to the statistics and demographics of cities and towns, Everett has a total population of “41,667” (Suburban Stats, 2013-2014). This is indicative that Everett is an already densely populated town that resides in the outskirts of the popular metropolitan Boston area. With the arrival of a casino resort, it is foreseen that the town will slowly grow into a large city because hotels and other businesses will want to establish their own retail spaces around the popular attraction. On a satellite map, Everett is already shown as a city that is home to a few small parks that are meant for recreational activities such as football fields and playgrounds for children. The Mystic River Reservation is the only real green space that available in Everett. It is at the mouth of the Mystic and Malden Rivers. This park is very rundown with overgrown trees and unmaintained grass. The development of the Wynn Casino will result in more construction throughout the city to accommodate the large number of businesses and casino buildings, which will move the town into an even more populated city. The official Wynn Casino website states the “Wynn will bring its elite, international clientele and millions of dollars of tourism spending to Massachusetts” (Wynn Resorts, 2014) which indicates the company will see a vast increase in tourism and visitors to the city.

Urban environments are problematic because of their negative impacts that they have on the environment. The main problems with urban environments that are highly populated are poor air quality from traffic congestion and less open space for physical fitness and mental well being. With the arrival of the Wynn Casino, these urban city problems will arise. Implementing parks and community gardens will prevent these adverse health conditions. In The Nature of air pollution, emission sources, and management in the Indian cities, Guttikinda, Goel, Pant (2014) state that “there is an increase of green house gasses, especially carbon, in urban environments due to overcrowding of people and automobile emissions” (Guttikinda, Goel, Pant, 2014, p. 501). Trees within green spaces are beneficial to overcrowded and congested urban cities because they help reduce the amount of air pollutants emitted by automobile exhaust. “Parks alongside freeways and rail corridors expose [citizens] to many air pollutants” (Wolch J, Byrne J, and Newell, 2014, p. 7) such as carbon.  They provide an environmental health benefit to citizen by “reduc[ing] levels of air pollution exposure mostly from car emissions” (Wolch, Byrne, and Newell, 2014, p. 7). Green spaces that are a low-carbon emitting area within a heavily carbon rich city allows for a healthier environment for citizens who are exposed to carbon and other air pollutants. In Low-Carbon Green Space Construction in Urban Communities, Zhang Y. and Wang J. writes, “Green space[s] [are] an integral part of high-carbon communities. It promotes the sustainable development of communities by increasing ‘carbon sinks’ and reducing ‘carbon sources’” (Zhang Y. and Wang J., 2014, p. 571) to show how important green spaces are in urban communities to prevent large amounts of carbon to pollute a city. They claim that green spaces are areas that recycle and rid carbon in the atmosphere of cities into oxygen and absorb other harmful air pollutants. Additionally, “Green space have been known to filter air, remove pollution, [and] attenuate noise” because “trees in urban areas may reduce air pollution by absorbing certain airborne pollutants from the atmosphere” (Wolch J, Byrne J, and Newell, 2014, p. 1).Parks will provide open space to play and relax, which will improve the wellbeing of the community in both physical and mental health ways. Wolch J, Byrne J, and Newell (2014) states that “[P]arks often serve as sites of physical activity, which is associated with enhanced health and reduced risk for all-cause mortality and many chronic diseases” (p. 2), which indicates that green spaces allow people in the community and visitors to hold recreational activities and events in parks to keep fit and active. The physical benefit of parks is especially helpful for the sensitive populations such as children because “[c]hildren with more access to parks and recreational facilities are more active than children with less access, and most results for adults are similar” (Wolch J, Byrne J, and Newell, 2014, p. 3). This is important for children as they grow because they will mature into physically fit young adults. High traffic congestion and overcrowding usually brings about a myriad amount of noise pollution. In Vehicle missions in the city of Leptokaria (Greece) and its contribution to the atmospheric air and noise pollution, Karakolio et al (2013) elaborate how high amounts of “air pollution contributes to negative mental health” (Karakolio et al, 2013, pp. 880-881) because all of the noise that comes from cars and people harmonize and “create high volumes of noise in areas with many automobiles” (Karakolio et al). Trees within green spaces prevent noise pollution because they act as a natural sound barrier to the many sounds that come from cities. An example of trees acting as a natural buffer for noise pollution is in Boston, MA. Prior to the development of the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway, there was just one long and wide street called Atlantic Avenue that housed a high amount of cars. There was a great amount of noise pollution and it was part of the city planning council’s consideration to develop an open green space on Atlantic Avenue to, according to the Urban land Institute (2012) “include noise and pollution control as part of their design“ (Urban Land Institute, p. 21). Decreasing many sounds of the city contribute to the mental well being of city goers because they aren’t “overwhelmed”. Green spaces also include community gardens, which are nutritionally beneficial to the local community as well as promote a sense of community to the area, which also contributes to the mental health of citizens because they can have the peace of mind of never having to worry about crime. The Bodine Street Garden claims that “increasing the consumption of fresh, healthy produce is one of the best ways to address childhood lead poisoning” (Bodine Street Garden) because it would allow the children of the local community to eat fresh produce that hasn’t been treated with any type of chemicals or pesticides. Additionally, community gardens are beneficial to the local children of the sensitive population because consuming fresh, local produce helps “reduce [other] adverse health effects because it is all ‘natural’”. The Bodine Street Garden (2014) also claims, “Eating locally produced food reduces asthma rates because children are able to consume manageable amounts of local pollen and develop immunities” (Bodine Street Garden, 2014). Parks and community allow for an open recreational space where members of a community can gather for activities and have a sense of what is going on in their community. This leads to less crimes rates because “Community gardens provide opportunities to meet neighbors…increase eyes on the street…[and] become more familiar with what is happening in their community” (Bodine Street Garden), but parks will allow the Everett community members to see each other and be aware of any crimes or current events in their city, especially when there is a high number of people entering and leaving the city from the Wynn Casino. It is common sense for a thief to mug a person in a city street than an open space park. Implementing more green spaces such as parks and community gardens will prevent any adverse health and safety issues that will result from the heavy urbanization that the Wynn Casino will bring to Everett. The installation of these green spaces will filter the air of automobile exhaust from heavy traffic; incite increase physical health of citizens and from recreational fitness; and promote mental health from stress relief from noise reduction and a sense of community safety.


In the case of the urbanization of Everett, MA it would be very beneficial to the city and its occupants because there will be high traffic areas with many automobile exhaust from the in and out flow of visitors to the city for the casino. The proposal for the Wynn Casino has a plan that would increase the number of roads leading into and out of the city. The proposal by the Massachusetts Gambling Commission states that “Major elements of the Lower Broadway Improvement Plan will be implemented, including creating a boulevard-like feel to Broadway, installing a truck access road and improving Everett’s major traffic circles” (Everett United) which shows the implementation of more roads to increase traffic flow, thus leading to more automobile exhaust in the air. The implementation of parks into the city alongside the construction of more buildings and roadways will prevent any adverse environmental effects that will arise.

With the arrival of the large number of construction of buildings and roadways, there will be less natural land to preserve the natural environment and wildlife native to the city of Everett, MA. Since green spaces are defined as areas with trees and grass, it is very beneficial to organisms that require the trees, grass, and soil to live and thrive. According to the Bodine Street Community Garden, an organization dedicated to implementing more community gardens in cities, “Green spaces provide habitat for a variety of birds, fish, animals, insects, and other organisms, while also providing corridors and greenways to link habitats” (Bodine Street Community Garden, 2014). This shows how green spaces are vital and beneficial to many species who are native to the area and may utilize the area as a wildlife corridor to travel. In the case of Everett, MA there is already small amounts of patches such as football fields and small recreational playground parks that allow species to thrive and with the implantation of more buildings and roads, wildlife in the area will decrease even more, so green spaces will allow the flow of wildlife back. Additionally, the planting of more trees in green spaces will not only filter out the air pollution but will also prevent noise pollution from overcrowding and cars honking in the city. According to the Bodine Street Community Garden, “Green spaces can also reduce noise pollution, by dense screens of trees and shrubs, and can even cleanse partially treated wastewater” (Bodine Street Community Garden, 2014). This shows that, ecologically, green spaces will be very beneficial to cleanse the urban environment of Everett, MA from wastewater produced by the masses of people as well as reducing noise pollution the people will emit as well.

Parks can be very sustainable to a city because they can improve the entire environment. They provide an improvement in the air of the urban environment. Most green spaces contain many plants and trees. All plants have a natural process of photosynthesis where the plant takes in light, water and carbon dioxide and in return makes sugars for the plant, energy in the form of    ATP and releases oxygen into the air. The part that we care about in green space is how it takes in carbon dioxide and releases oxygen. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. In 2012, CO2 accounted for about 82% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities (EPA) While CO2 emissions come from a variety of natural sources, human-related emissions are responsible for the increase that has occurred in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution (EPA). Carbon dioxide levels have increased in the past decades due to an increase in the population and an increase in transportation. We are replacing trees and parks with new buildings and parking lots. This means that there are no plants to take in this carbon dioxide. Transportation emissions also contributed to the 5% increase, largely due to an increase in miles traveled by motor vehicles (EPA) In the United States, since 1990, the management of forests and non-agricultural land has acted as a net sink of CO2, which means that more CO2 is removed from the atmosphere, and stored in plants and trees, than is emitted. This sink will offset about 15% of total emissions in 2012 (EPA) green spaces are a good source of carbon sinks in our overpopulated urban environments. With an increase in people and transportation we need to increase the amount of green spaces. This will offset the increase in carbon dioxide in the cities.

Another way green spaces can be taken advantage of during the development of the casino is to also consider the renovation and implementation  of green infrastructure in Everett. To go along with green parks, bike paths, and gardens, improved infrastructure would help to  improve stormwater management and sustainability of roadways in and around the casino. Improved roadways and infrastructure would be beneficial for the  environment because of improved stormwater management and efficiency. With climate change being a prevalent issue in todays society, flooding for a coastal environment such as Everett could become an issue in the future.   Other cities in the United States have been implementing and creating various green spaces which is a benefit that urban developers would have when trying to improve the Everett area with greener infrastructure. These green infrastructure projects that are completed and analyzed can be used as a guide or reference when planners decide to work on the Wynn Casino. Cities such as Portland and Seattle have noticed significant improvements with their improved green infrastructure. Seattle’s storm water management system has seen improvement in efficiency. The way Seattle did this was with SEA Streets program. These projects focused on narrowing streets to create a river like road that reduced impermeable coverage. According to Steve Wise “The results were convincing, both financially and hydrologically; Runoff volume was reduced by 98 percent, at a cost 25 percent below that of conventional street designs” (Wise S, p17). This is only one example of how green infrastructure, specifically street design can help with a key component such as storm water management.  The parks at the Wynn casino could filter all of the wastewater that comes off of the hardscapes at the casino before the storm water goes back into the river. This would improve the water quality of the river which would help the whole aquatic ecosystem.


In the Wynn casino plan, they plan on building a 27-story glass hotel to accommodate all of their guests. This hotel would rise high into the skyline and could disrupt the flights of birds. This is very important because there is a lot of wildlife, especially birds around the casino that come off of the river. In urban areas, a major factor influencing the presence or absence of many bird species is

habitat destruction through commercial and residential development and forest fragmentation (Marzluff et al. 2001).Public parks and cemeteries thus become the only “green areas” available to birds (Pickett et al. 2001). This shows the importance that green spaces have to birds.  Building a green space in the Wynn Casino is crucial to birds that fly through the casino off of the river.Ecological theory suggests that with a decrease in habitat patch size there is a decrease in species richness (MacArthur and Wilson 1967). So if we do not add green space to the casino we will have a decrease in the wildlife in the whole city of Everett. If we are building a hotel to accommodate the guests we should build a green space to accommodate the birds.


The arrival of the Wynn Casino will create  a surplus of money and add jobs for citizens  in the surrounding area to work but it also takes profit away from the local vendors, restaurant owners, and entrepreneurs in Everett, MA. With the implementation of green spaces, local vendors will be able to attract more customers if there were a park located near their store. Property values surrounding the park would also increase which would allow vendors to charge a higher price due to  Many people walk thru parks and would be around parks more often. This would expose them to the stores more frequently instead of having all of the occupants within Everett stay in the Wynn Casino the entire time. Parks allow vendors and local business owners to promote their businesses by creating events in the green spaces to attract customers. In “The Personal Benefits of Parks”, Bradley J (2013) states, “[The] economic benefits of parks is a numbers game, as having parks nearby has been linked to increased property values, whether urban, suburban or rural in context” (Bradley, 2013, p. 1) which shows that businesses located near parks attract more customers because the parks offers an aesthetically appealing image and view for customers and green space visitors would be more interesting in attending a business near a park because it is convenient for them.  Bradley J (2013) backs up this claim by stating, “[C]reating or cultivating green space has been linked to revitalization of economically depressed areas, generating inflows of people seeking to enjoy these spaces” (Bradley, 2013, pp. 1-2). Additionally, parks allow local business owners, artisans, and farmers to set up farmers and art market to promote their company and sell their products. For instance, in Boston, Massachusetts, the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway was built to  promote environmental health and sustainability. It  also allowed farmers markets to set up there. There is now a farmer’s market every day located in the greenway that supports local restaurant owners, food trucks, and farmers.

A specific example of positive economic development as a result of the  development of green spaces is the change that Montgomery, Alabama has seen with their revamped green spaces and infrastructure. With the results that Montgomery has seen it would be plausible to believe that the Everett area would see similar results. Lehmann states in her article that

“The Montgomery County Parks and Recreation Department was instrumental in implementing bike-friendly roadways, physical activity in afterschool programs and urban farms to promote Montgomery’s standing as a healthy city. Not only has Montgomery seen their obesity ranking improve in only two year, but the city also has documented an economic dividend from these investments. Local leaders in Jackson, Tennessee, noted that a nearby city with better health statistics and better infrastructure for physical activity more bids for new businesses, and they postulated that new businesses were able to obtain lower health insurance rates in the healthier cities.” (Lehmann, 2012, pp32).


Green spaces such as parks and community gardens would be very beneficial to the community and its visitors due to the promotion of environmental health, sustainability, and local economy. However, there are people who will oppose the idea of the benefits of green spaces, such as the owners of the Wynn Casino and larger, more powerful companies who would want to take the open space and create a new building for their franchise or a mall, and citizens who worry about the crimes happening in local parks. Large brand name company owners would want to utilize the open green space for their own retail purpose to make a profit and gain revenue. Company owners could potentially collaborate and create a shopping outlet mall for more retails stores. Owners of the Wynn casino would prefer to not have a green space that would take away their potential customers because casino resorts usually have every amenity a visitor would need. Another resistant audience is the people who think that parks cause increased crime in their city. On the Everett United website, the supporters reassure the citizens, claiming that “Other cities with similar resorts in the United States have shown an actual decrease in crime. The city will also receive $5 million a year, increasing annually, to support fire, police and other vital services” (Everett United, 2014). On Wynn Casino in Everett’s official website, the owners also claim, “Community payments support infrastructure improvements, public safety, nonprofit organizations and local businesses” (Wynn Casino Everett, 2014) to show that they will provide funding for increased public safety throughout the city, so the citizens can have the peace of mind that they will be safe in their own city, which means that government owned parks will have more safety as well.

In conclusion, implementing more green spaces, such as parks or community gardens, in a very urbanized environments, such as the developing city of Everett, Massachusetts would promote the flow of money and stimulate the economy for smaller business owners to have jobs, create a safe and healthy lifestyle for park visitors, and bring back local wildlife native the conditions of the geographic area. With the recent approval of the Wynn Casino by the Massachusetts Gambling Committee, the town of Everett will start to become overcrowded which would lead to more urbanization.The integration of green spaces throughout the city will balance the urbanized development, leading to a safe place for city visitors and neighboring communities to seek refuge from the congested and polluted city environment.


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  1. Yes, that is correct. When cities become more crowded due to population growth, the spatial form or morphology of the city can be used to measure its compactness. The more concentrated the built-up area of a city, the more compact it is considered to be. This is because more people are living and working in a smaller area, which can lead to increased traffic congestion, longer commute times, and other urban problems. However, compactness can also have some positive effects, such as reducing urban sprawl and promoting public transportation, which can help mitigate some of the negative effects of overpopulation in cities.

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