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Master of Agribusiness

Accurately Predicting Visitation as a Strategic Tool for Management of a Public Park

Nathan Bartholomew, Alexandra, VA, defended his thesis, “Accurately Predicting Visitation as a Strategic Tool for Management of a Public Park” on April 13, 2017. He is a Horticulturalist for High Line Park in New York City. Bartholomew graduated from Kansas State University in May 2017 with a Master of Agribusiness (MAB) degree.

New York City’s High Line Park is a linear public park stretching across Manhattan’s West side on an abandoned elevated railway structure 30 feet above the ground.  Completed in 2009, the park consists of a central walkway flanked by a perennial border. The park can be visited by up to 50,000 people for a weekend, leading to overcrowding challenges due to the layout of the park. Although the park has taken steps towards reducing this problem by attracting additional funding for renovation, no system is in place to predict park visitation to allow park management to create a strategic plan for crowd management during high-traffic times. To assist in this plan, Bartholomew conducted research about how climate and social variables affect park attendance.

“A strategic plan will help to determine who the visitors are and what activities they enjoy in the park. In conceptualizing a solution, High Line Park can put into practice what its visitors want to see offered in the park and which programming needs improvement to promise continued success,” Bartholomew said.

Bartholomew’s research suggested that the social variables of day of the week and season have a greater impact on park visitation than other variables such as average temperature and participation. The model he developed can be used to forecast future park trends, helping park officials plan park visitation management strategies and staffing in the future.

 Dr. Nathan Hendricks, Associate Professor and Bartholomew’s thesis advisor, said, “Nathan’s thesis provides important analysis for understanding park visitation in New York’s High Line Park. This information can be used to more efficiently manage operations and help prevent problems with overcrowding”.

The full thesis publication can be found online on Kansas State University’s Research Exchange at http://hdl.handle.net/2097/35445.