By encouraging open lands throughout the region, local officials can not only conserve existing greenspace, but also promote new parks and natural areas on formerly built-out sites. According to a report by the Trust for Public Land, "Outmoded facilities like closed shipyards, underutilized rail depots, abandoned factories, decommissioned military bases and filled landfills can be converted to parks (link to Infill Snapshot). Sunken highways and railroad tracks can be decked over with parkland. Denver even de-paved its old airport to restore original land contours and create the city's largest park" (Harnik, 2006). In Chicago, the abandoned Bloomingdale rail line is currently being adapted into a greenway for the public.
Following a decades-long decline of manufacturing jobs, many cities across the country are deciding to "grow" by shrinking – that is, they are reducing their built environments to meet the needs of smaller populations. Nationally, Richmond, Virginia and Youngstown, Ohio are each attempting this strategy. In these cities, entire blocks are being cleared to make way for new parks and green space (El Nasser, 2006).
Brownfield conversion into green space is also a possible attempt at encouraging openlands (Link to Brownfields White Paper). The economic benefits of converting Brownfields into green space are similar to those of any new park; however the cost to complete the conversion is generally more. The number one obstacle limiting the conversion is high costs and lack of funding (DeSousa, 2006). Within the region, Waukegan has initiated a strategy to phase out much of the aging industrial infrastructure near its downtown to make way for new residential, retail and recreational construction – including an increase in public open space (Zawislak, 2005, www.waukeganvision.com). The City of Chicago has also converted brownfields into open space. One example is the Ping Tom Park located in the Chinatown neighborhood. The Chicago Park District acquired 12 acres of old rail yards in the early 1990's to build the park.