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Dog Parks, Splashpads and Pickleball: City Park Facts 2018

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Yesterday, August 22, 2018, the Trust for Public Land released the annual City Park Facts report.  Published annually since 2009 (except for 2013), City Park Facts is an almanac of facts and figures on the park systems of the one hundred largest cities in the United States. City Park Facts contains a superset of the information that we use to produce ParkScore, our annual ranking of the 100 largest U. S. city park systems, which arrives in late May.

In the past, we have produced a 36-page report with a larges number of tables filled with data on acreage, spending, amenities and more.  This year, we shifted our focus, providing a 20-page executive summary titled “the year in parks” and created separate city profile pages (see below for an example) providing details of each city park system in a very visual format.  Like past years, we provide downloadable spreadsheets with all of the facts and figures that we collect.  This all available for free at https://www.tpl.org/10minutewalk 

We welcome questions, comments, and suggestions.  Please contact us at ccpe@tpl.org

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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.

Dog Park Rankings for the 100 largest U.S. Cities

Dog Park Rankings for the 100 Largest U. S. Cities, 2018

Dogs play at The Trust for Public Land’s Potso Dog Park in Oregon. Photo Credit: Curtis Lee Farmer.

1. Introduction / Executive Summary

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 dog parks, also known as “off-leash dog areas” are among the fastest growing park amenities in the combined parks systems of the 100 largest US cities.[1] There are currently 774 dedicated dog parks in the 100 largest cities, an increase of 38 over last year. Many public park agencies now have ordinances and sets of design standards that govern the creation and ongoing maintenance and operation of dog parks. However, most important, we find that what makes dog parks successful is strong collaboration between the public parks agency, the surrounding community and a local dog advocacy group, primarily volunteers that have a strong ownership stake in the dog park.

2. Current dog park numbers.

2017 saw continued growth in dog parks in the 100 largest U. S. cities, with 774 dog parks in operation. Since 2009, we’ve seen a 40 percent increase in dog parks, when there were 466 dog parks in the largest U. S. cities.

Year,# of Dog Parks, Increase, % change from prior year, Overall increase since 2009

2018                    774        38                                4.9%                   + 308

2017                     736       55                                 7.5%                   + 270

2016                    681       37                                  5.4%                  + 215

2015                    644       26                                  4.0%                  + 178

2009                  466

The complete list of 2018 rankings for dog parks, by city, is posted on our City Park Facts page on ww.tpl.org.

Dog parks are among the fastest growing amenities in the 100 largest U.S. Cities’ park systems and the top cities may be surprising. We calculate rank based on the number of dog parks for every 100,000 residents in a given city. [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. The 2018 edition will be published on May 23, 2018.]

[1] – The 100 largest US cities are surveyed annually via the City Park survey, administered by the Center for City Park Excellence at the Trust for Public Land. Results are reported in both City Park Facts and ParkScore, both available at http://www.tpl.org The 100 largest cities contain 64 million residents or about 20 percent of the total US population.