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Golf Course conversions to public parks

Millbrook Green-banner

The former Millbrook Golf Course, now a public park, in Windsor, CT.

A recent article in CityLab discussed the continuing decline of golf in the United States and mentioned that the total number of private golf courses has shrunk, especially in the wake of the Great Recession. While the article focused on the potential conversion to residential and commercial uses, it did mention the conversion of private courses into public parks in a number of cities and towns across the country.  The Trust for Public Land is an active participant in creating public parks from private golf courses.  We work with towns, cities and towns in acquiring golf courses for public parks for a variety of both environmental and recreational uses. Our most recent acquisition is in Windsor, CT, but we’ve also acquired golf courses recently in Marin County, California, Portland, Oregon, Rancho Canada, California and Golden, Colorado.   More about this trend in our updated post, below.

Executive Summary:

The total number of golf courses has been steadily shrinking in the US for the past decade or so.  According the “The World of Golf” study published in 2015 by The R & A (Global Governing body for Golf) the number of courses in the US is 15,372, down from a high of 16,052 courses around the year 2005[1].

Data collected by The Trust for Public Land for the annual City Park Facts report shows the current number of public golf courses in the 100 largest U.S. cities is 413, up from 400 in 2010. Thus, the number of public golf courses is 2.69 percent of the current overall total.[2]

While we have not seen many examples of public golf courses being converted to parks, we do find 19 public or private golf courses being purchased and converted to public parks in the past 12 years. The Trust for Public Land has been an integral part of the latter effort, working on 9 of the 19 in the past 12 years.

Usage in golf courses, according to the National Golf Foundation is declining. In 2000, there were 28.8 M golfers, growing to 29.42 M in 2009, then falling by end of 2016 to 23.8 M golfers.[3] The number of rounds went from 518.4 M rounds in 2000 to 465.5 M rounds in 2013.[4] [5]

Examples of Golf Course to Park conversions in the past 10-12 years. We’ve found a total of 15 in the past 12 years that have been acquired, now in process to convert them into parks or nature preserves or fully converted. Many more have been considered, especially in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California. A current trend is also considering them for conversion to housing subdivisions or commercial or industrial development.  Recent examples include: Tampa [See: http://www.tbo.com/news/localgovernment/pasco-commission-okays-quail-hollow-golf-course-conversion/2330077 ] among many others.

Current / recent golf course conversions to public parks:

Historic conversions of golf courses to public parks:

Examples of restoration techniques and processes used to convert golf courses to parks:

References:

Footnotes:

[1] – Information from the R & A and The National Golf Foundation – websites.

[2] – City Parks Facts 2017, The Trust for Public Land –

[3] – “Annual participation report uncovers favorable trends for the game’s future” April 22, 2017 in Golfdigest.com

[4] – Information from The National Golf Foundation – http://secure.ngf.org/cgi/faqa.asp?

[5] – Information from Statista – https://www.statista.com/statistics/227420/number-of-golfers-usa/

Announcing ParkScore 2018

The Trust for Public Land Releases 2018 ParkScore® Index

Ranking Park Systems in the 100 Largest U.S. Cities

Index Reports Improvements in Park Access and Funding Nationwide, but More Progress Needed to Ensure All Residents Live within a 10-Minute Walk of a Park

San Francisco – Minneapolis has the best park system in the United States, according to The Trust for Public Land’s 7th annual ParkScore® index, which was released today by the nonprofit organization.

Minneapolis narrowly edged neighboring Saint Paul to earn top honors for the third consecutive year. A different regional rivalry claimed third and fourth place, as Washington, DC, barely outscored Arlington, Virginia, to hold on to third. In another big move, Chicago cracked the top 10 for the first time in ParkScore history.

Among the largest 100 ParkScore cities, public spending on parks reached $7.5 billion in 2018, a $429 million increase over the previous year. This additional funding contributed to a slight increase in park access overall. According to The Trust for Public Land, 70 percent of residents in ParkScore cities live with a 10-minute walk (or a half-mile) of a park, up from 69 percent last year.

The national nonprofit organization is leading a movement to put a park or natural area within a 10-minute walk of every U.S. resident. More than 200 mayors have endorsed the 10-minute goal.

“The research is clear: quality, close-to-home parks are essential to communities. Everyone deserves a great park within a 10-minute walk of home,” said Diane Regas, President and CEO of The Trust for Public Land. “These rankings are the gold-standard for park access and quality, and empower people to hold their leaders accountable.”

Charlotte settled at the bottom of the ParkScore list, ranking just below Fresno, CA, Mesa, AZ, and Hialeah, FL. Fort Wayne and Indianapolis declined to participate in ParkScore 2018 and were not ranked. Gilbert, AZ, was not ranked because the necessary data was unavailable.

THE DETAILS:

This year, ParkScore rankings are based equally on four factors: Park Access, which measures the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park; Park Acreage, which is based on a city’s median park size and the percentage of total city area dedicated to parks; Park Investment, which measures park spending per resident; and Park Amenities, which counts the availability of six popular park features: basketball hoops, off-leash dog parks, playgrounds, “splashpads” and other water play structures, recreation and senior centers, and restrooms.

The addition of restrooms and splashpads to the Park Amenities rating factor is a significant update and improvement for ParkScore in 2018. The index also now includes volunteer hours and charitable contributions in its calculation of parks spending, providing a ranking boost to cities whose residents strongly support their park systems.

ParkScore champion Minneapolis scored well on all ParkScore rating factors. In Minneapolis, 97 percent of residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, and 15 percent of city area is reserved for parks. Second-place finisher Saint Paul outscored Minneapolis for park amenities but fell to second overall because of its smaller median park size (3.2 acres vs. 5.7 acres). Fifth place San Francisco remains the only city with 100 percent 10-minute park access, but the city’s small median park size of 1.3 acres negatively affects its overall ranking.

Boise successfully defended its title as the best park system for dogs, with a nation-leading 6.7 dog parks per 100,000 residents. Norfolk, VA received top marks for basketball hoops, Madison scored best for playgrounds, and Cleveland edged out New York for splashpads and water features.

“High quality parks make cities healthier in nearly every way. Proximity to parks increases physical activity levels among children and adults, reducing risk for obesity, diabetes, and other serious health conditions. Parks also help clean the air, mitigate the risk of storm damage, build relationships among neighbors, and contribute to economic growth,” said Adrian Benepe, senior vice president and director of city park development for The Trust for Public Land.

According to The Trust for Public Land, the 10 highest-ranking park systems in the United States are:

Rank       City                             ParkScore  (Max: 100)

  1.        Minneapolis, MN         84.2
  2.        Saint Paul, MN             82.4
  3.        Washington, DC           81.9
  4.        Arlington, VA                81.6
  5.        San Francisco, CA        79.6
  6.        Portland, OR                 78.3
  7.       Cincinnati, OH               78.2
  8.       Chicago, IL                      76.1
  9.       New York, NY                 74.8
  10.       Irvine, CA                        73.4

ParkScore uses advanced GIS (Geographic Information Systems) computer mapping technology to create digital maps evaluating park accessibility. Instead of measuring distance to a local park, ParkScore’s GIS technology takes into account the location of park entrances and physical obstacles to access. For example, if residents are separated from a nearby park by a major highway, ParkScore does not count the park as accessible to those residents, unless there is a bridge, underpass, or easy access point across the highway. The Trust for Public Land collaborated with GIS industry leader Esri on GIS design and implementation.

Municipal leaders can use ParkScore-generated maps to guide park improvement efforts, studying park access on a block-by-block basis and pinpointing the areas where new parks are needed most. The website is free and available to the public, empowering local residents to hold their elected leaders accountable for achieving equitable access to quality parks for all.

For more information about ParkScore, visit http://www.tpl.org/10minutewalk and join the discussion on Twitter @TPL_org, #ParkScore #10minwalk.

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit http://www.tpl.org.

ParkServe 1.0 is released! How far are you from a park?

parkserve-arlington-top

The official version 1.0 of ParkServe is released!  Visit parkserve.tpl.org and look up your town or city.  The Trust for Public Land has mapped 13,913 urban communities – 85 percent of the population of the United States – and can show you where you’re nearest park is, what percentage of your community’s population is within a 10-minute walk and even includes the Park Evaluator tool to see how adding parks will help your community and it’s 10-minute walk score.

parkserve-arlington-map.PNG

Want details on how we developed ParkServe?  We have answers on our methodology page.

We’re looking for feedback and input too, so if you see a park that is missing or is incomplete, please let us know.

 

Splash Pads Rankings for the 100 Largest U.S. Cities, 2018 

splashpad

  1. Introduction

Based on annual research undertaken by the Trust for Public Land through our annual City Parks Survey, the Center for City Park Excellence has determined that splash pads are among the fastest growing park amenities in the combined parks of the 100 largest US cities. In the 2015 City Parks Survey, we began asking cities to report the number of splash pads or spray grounds they have within their parks. There are currently 1,756 splash pads in the parks of the 100 largest cities, an increase of 423 splash pads over the last year.

  1. Current Splash Pads Numbers

2017 saw a growth of 423 splash pads in the 100 largest US cities, with 1,756 splash pads in parks. Since 2015 when we began collecting information on splash pads, we’ve seen a 60 percent increase in slash pads, when there were only 709 splash pads reported in the largest US cities.

Year Number of Splash Pads Change in numbers Change in percentage from prior year Overall increase since 2015
2017 1,798 465 26% 61%
2016 1,333 624 47% 47%
2015 709      

Splash pads are among the fastest growing amenities in the 100 largest US Cities’ park systems and the top cities might be surprising. We calculate rank based on the number splash pads for every 100,000 residents in a given city. Below we have ranked the top 10 cities. [For information on our work and findings from our annual city parks survey, please check out our annual publication, City Park Facts – http://www.tpl.org/cityparkfacts.]

City                        Population          Splash Pads   Splash Pads per 100,000 Residents

  1. Louisville            248,987                   32                           12.9
  2. Cleveland            383,649                  40                            10.4
  3. Boston                 661,977                   61                             9.2
  4. New York         8,691,599                780                             9.0
  5. Chicago            2,781,116                240                             8.6
  6. Pittsburgh           309,419                 26                              8.4
  7. Tulsa                    419,494                  31                             7.4
  8. Henderson          290,567                 17                              5.9
  9. Philadelphia    1,587,761                 80                              5.0
  10. Cincinnati           309,190                 14                              4.5

Urban Forestry Survey: Last Call

Cover photo

Hello,

We’ve sent this note out to the city parks agencies and non-profits in the 100 largest cities and have seen a great response, but wanted to put out one more call for survey responses.  If you work in Urban Forestry, please consider taking this survey and helping the NYC based Natural Areas Conservancy collect some great data and stories.

Thanks so much,

The Center for City Park Excellence at the Trust for Public Land.

We are looking for help in reaching appropriate individuals and organizations to participate in a web-based survey about urban forested natural areas. If your organization owns, manages, or works in urban forested natural areas, we request that a representative from your team to take the survey. We are primarily seeking information about organizations that manage and care for forests in cities, which could be done through hired staff or volunteers. If your organization does not work in urban forested natural areas but you know of someone who does, please forward the survey to them. This survey will be active until May 1, 2018.

Forested natural areas include woodlands and remnant forests – areas that are distinct from street trees and landscaped parks. Participating in this survey involves answering a series of questions that should take about 30 minutes to complete.

This survey is part of a collaborative effort between the Natural Areas Conservancy, Yale University and Trust for Public Land. The results from the survey will be compiled into a national report on the management of urban forested natural areas and shared with all participants.If you have questions or concerns please direct them to clara.pregitzer@yale.edu.

Follow this link to the Survey and for more information:
Take the Survey
Or copy and paste the URL below into your internet browser:
https://yalesurvey.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6m4vNymGntvfiYZ?Q_CHL=email

Thank you for your time and participation.

Clara Pregitzer, Yale University & Natural Areas Conservancy
Sarah Charlop-Powers, Natural Areas Conservancy