The communities that plan for walkability and plan well will benefit in terms of higher home values, job creation, less traffic congestion and a happier, healthier resident base. Those that fail to plan will likely find themselves not just falling behind, but also with a likely more difficult task to create these features in the future.
To emphasize the importance of walkability in suburban planning we have no less a planning authority than the Urban Land Institute strongly advocating specifically for more compactly developed, walkable suburbs. See the ULI's study and recommendations on reinvention of our suburbs.
What is clear is that the spread-out, automobile-oriented suburbs of the past will either make the transition to become more compact, walkable and green or they will lose out in the competition of desirable places to live.
To our way of thinking walkability works best when people are given a reason to walk - a place to go, a destination. We have proposed Wellington Gardens (at K Park) as that place. Wellington Gardens will have its own highly desirable walking paths, but an even better, more comprehensive plan for Wellington would be to develop a central, walkable core that, at the least, begins with the area defined by Forest Hill to the north, 441 to the east, and Stribling Way to the west and south. See map below - walkable pathways are shown in blue.
We would propose one further enhancement for both safety and convenience - a pedestrian walking bridge crossing 441 from Emerald Cove Middle School over to K Park. This bridge would invite pedestrian access from Olympia, Village Walk and the Tennis Center to the central walking core. And, it would better insure the safety of our young people who will likely want to be a part of the action across 441. As it now stands 441 is both a physical and mental barrier separating 2 large communities (Village Walk and Olympia) from what could become a central commercial and social core for Wellington.
Wellington Gardens, with its central park, botanical gardens, entertainment and dining would provide an excellent destination and/or resting place practically inviting the walk or biking excursion. And, the walking/biking paths would not only provide exercise and health benefits to the community, but could act to greatly reduce automobile traffic in these corridors by making walking and biking an attractive transportation alternative. There could even be self-serve bike rentals provided at key points along the pathways to give people a readily available option of biking part way, walking part way.
The main point is that the right development for K Park shouldn't be determined in the vacuum of K Park itself. It should be relational to the entire community with clearly demonstrated benefits to the community. There is and should be a larger vision and plan for the future that will serve to make Wellington a more desirable and better place to live and work. K Park is just one piece, albeit an important starting piece, of that puzzle.