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Park systems of North Texas Cities

A few weeks ago, The Trust for Public Land rolled out the 2018 edition of City Park Facts, comparing a host of facts and figures about the park systems of the 100 largest U. S. cities.  One new feature is our city profiles, which provide double-sided profiles for each city.  This gives you information at a glance for your city and makes it easy to compare to competing or rival cities.

So, we thought we’d start with the cities of North Texas – Arlington, Dallas, Fort Worth, Garland, Irving and Plano.  We’ve posted snapshots of each of the profiles, you can get the full profiles by visiting www.tpl.org/10minutewalk

A few interesting facts and figures – the six cities combined have a total of 52,621 acres of parkland.  Half of that is in Dallas.

The city with the largest median park size is Plano with 13.5 acres.  (The median for the 100 largest cities is 3.8 acres.)

In terms of the percentage of population within a 10 minute walk to park, Plano leads the six North Texas cities with 75 percent of residents within a ten-minute walk to a park. (The average for the 100 largest cities is 70 percent.)

The North Texas city with the highest spending per resident is Plano at $237, second is Dallas at $123.  (The average for the 100 largest cities is $83 per resident.)

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City Park Facts: public agency spending

This information is gleaned from the new 2018 edition of City Park Facts, written and published by The Trust for Public Land in August 2018.  Download your copy today!

(We revised the public spending and total spending amounts, based on some corrections to data on September 7, 2018.)

This year saw an increase of 5 percent in public spending on city parks in the 100 largest cities, continuing a slight upward trend of the past five years. The combined public parks agencies reported a total of $7.4 billion in spending, up from the $7.1 billion that we reported in 2017. This trend is likely a result of department budgets being rebuilt slowly as cities recover from the Great Recession of 2008. The median figure that the 100 largest cities spend per resident on parks and recreation is $83, when looking at public and private spending combined, and $81 per person of public agency dollars.

2018-PublicAgencySpend-91018

Despite this recent good news, public agency budgets still face a particular set of financial challenges. Although budgets seem to be recovering, this process is slow. Agencies remain underfunded, a chronic reality of the country’s park systems. Furthermore, parks agencies are among the first departments to be cut in times of fiscal crisis, according to a 2017 study by Penn State University and the National Recreation and Parks Association.

Usually, increases are a result of more capital spending, rather than on operations, maintenance and programming. Spending on operations and maintenance has grown by about 3 to 5 percent annually over the past five years. Capital spending, on the other hand, varies widely, sometimes with as much as a 23 percent increase from one year to the next, as was the case from last year to this year. Capital budget increases indicate new and re-built park facilities and amenities, repairs to significant park infrastructure, and the acquisition of more parkland.

Even with increased capital spending, public agencies are often left to look for additional sustainable sources of operating revenue to help bolster daily operations and maintenance activities as well as programming. Operating dollars are what keep the grass mowed, the weeds pulled, and the trash cans emptied in parks across the country. And while there’s no argument that these tasks are crucial to keep parks and their cities beautiful and functional, the challenge to find enough sustainable operations and maintenance funds remains.

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City Park Facts 2018: the impact of park partners – nonprofits and volunteers

<This is an excerpt from City Park Facts 2018: the year in parks, focusing on parks non-profits and volunteers and the incredible role they play in our 100 largest U. S. cities. You can download your copy of City Park Facts from www.tpl.org/10minutewalk >

Park partners: nonprofits and volunteers

One way to ease funding pressures on agencies and add more money into the mix is through private and philanthropic dollars. While past editions of City Park Facts reported on a select group of parks conservancies, this year’s report includes a more robust depiction of the role these groups play. We identified more than 160 nonprofits in the 100 largest cities, and collected data to determine just how big a factor these groups are in urban park systems.

For the purpose of this report, nonprofit park organizations are those qualifying under
section 501(c)3 of the federal tax code. These organizations can be citywide advocacy or partnership organizations, or be focused on a specific park or group of parks. These
groups are often called “conservancies” or “friends of” groups. They typically
have a working relationship with one or more public park agencies and contribute
funding, volunteers, and advocacy to their park systems. Outside the larger cities, park
nonprofits are often small, with a staff of one to two people and a host of volunteers
working to support their efforts.

Over the past year, these groups spent roughly $500 million on public parks in the
largest 100 cities, including on programming, capital improvements, maintenance, and
operations. As a result, contributions by these nonprofit partners made up 6.2 percent of
the total spending on parks and recreation in the past year. Furthermore, an additional
$433 million in value was contributed in volunteer time to both public and nonprofit
parks agencies in the past year. With public and nonprofit dollars combined, a total of just over $8 billion was spent on parks in the most recent fiscal year.

Increasingly, more parks agencies—both public and nonprofit—are working with volunteers to provide recreation programs, support efforts in planting, watering and weeding, and even for assistance in constructing capital projects. Over the past year, nearly 1.1 million volunteers contributed 16.9 million hours in work to the park systems of the 100 largest U.S. cities. Put another way, it is like adding another 8,330 full-time positions to these parks and recreation agencies.

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Buffalo Olmsted Parks, Buffalo, NY

City Park Facts 2018: Spending in the 100 largest cities

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City Park Facts 2018 was released by The Trust for Public Land on August 22, 2018.  Published annually, its an almanac of information on public park systems of the 100 largest U. S. cities.  20 percent (65 million people) of the U. S. population lives in these cities.

The combined public parks agencies reported a total of $7.5 billion in spending, up from the $7.1 billion that we reported in 2017. This trend is likely a result of department budgets being rebuilt slowly as cities recover from the Great Recession of 2008. The median figure that the 100 largest cities spend per resident on parks and recreation is $83, when looking at public and private spending combined, and $82 per person of public agency dollars.

Further, 167 parks non-profits operating in the 100 largest U. S. cities spent an additional $500 million on public park programming, operations, maintenance and improvements.

Combined, over $8 B was spent to manage  22,764 parks covering more than 2.1 million acres inside the 100 largest U. S. cities.

There’s a lot more in this year’s City Park Facts report, including our “year in parks” executive summary, 99 individual city profile pages and all data collected available for download. Download a copy of City Park Facts 2018 at www.tpl.org/10minutewalk

Send us your comments, questions or suggestions at ccpe@tpl.org

City Park Facts: Cities with most top ten rankings

We’re working to share news and aspects of The Trust for Public Land’s City Parks Facts 2018 report, which debuted on 8/22/18.  The data that we collect is pretty wide ranging and there’s a lot to talk about.  We wanted to share another aspect of City Park Facts and that’s the cities who hav the most top ten rankings in the amentiies, acreage, and visitation categories.

First is Louisville with eleven top ten rankings.

Tied for second are Cincinnati and Madison, each with nin top ten rankings.

Third are perennial ParkScore winners Minneapolis and St. Paul, with eight top ten rankings each.

Fourth are Anchorage and Arlington, VA, with seven top ten rankings each.

Details about each city and where they stnad in terms of individual categories follow.  Download the individual city profiles at www.tpl.org/10minutewalk

Louisville has eleven top ten rankings, the most of any of the 100 largest cities.  Louisville is ranked 1st in restrooms, golf courses, splash pads and tennis courts. Louisville is ranked 2nd in playgrounds, 3rd in baseball diamonds, 4th in trail miles, 5th in community gardens, 7th in nature centers, 8th in basketball hoops, and has the 5th largest city park, Jefferson Memorial Forest.

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Cincinnati has nine top ten rankings. Cincinnati is ranked 1st in nature centers, 2nd in golf courses, 4th in baseball diamonds, 5th in disc golf courses and basketball hoops, 6th in restrooms, 9th in playgrounds and 10th in splash pads.

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Madison has nine top ten rankings. Madison is ranked 1st in playgrounds, 2nd in disc golf courses, 3rd in basketball hoops, ice rinks and Pickleball courts, 4th in community garden plots, 6th in dog parks, 8th in volleyball nets, and 10th in golf courses.

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Minneapolis has eight top ten rankings. Minneapolis is ranked 1st in ice rinks, 2nd in both recreation & senior centers and baseball diamonds, 3rd in beaches, 4th in restrooms, 6th in golf courses, 10th in volleyball nets and has the 10th most visited park, the Chain of Lakes Regional Park.

St. Paul has eight top ten rankings. St. Paul is ranked first in baseball diamonds and community garden plots. St. Paul is ranked 2nd in ice rinks, Pickleball and restrooms. St. Paul is ranked 7th in basketball hoops and trail miles and 9th in recreation & senior centers.

Arlington, Virginia has seven top ten rankings. Arlington, Virginia ranks 8th in park acreage per 1,000 residents. They are 4th in nature centers, 6th in playgrounds, 7th in tennis courts, 9th in both Pickleball courts and community gardens and ranked 10th in dog parks.

Anchorage has seven top ten rankings. They are number 1 in terms of percentage of the city that is parkland, at a whopping 84%. They have the 9th largest park: Far North Bicentennial Park.  Anchorage is ranked 3rd in trails, 4th in ice rinks, 8th in restrooms and 9th in disc golf courses.

If you have questions, comments or thoughts about City Park Facts, please let us know – ccpe@tpl.org is the easiest way to reach us! @Parks for People