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Indianapolis Parks & Public Spaces

Several Trust for Public Land staff were in Indianapolis last week presenting and attending the annual National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) Conference which drew over 8,000 parks and recreation professionals, parks non-profits, vendors and others for 4 days of workshops, sessions and tours.  We managed to scout out some park locations in this city of over 860,000 people and wanted to share a few of the photos that we took.

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The canal threads its way through a portion of the downtown area and into White Rock State Park, home to a number of museums and cultural institutions.  It has paths on both sides of the canal heavily used for walking, running and biking.

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University Park and the Indiana World War Memorial are just a few blocks north of the state capitol.

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Flowering plants are everywhere, maintained by the downtown Indy BID.  This display adjoins the Soldiers and Sailors monument in the downtown area.

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The cultural trail is an eight-mile long paved trail for walking, running and biking htat connects adjoining neighborhoods to downtown and also incorporates key features, like the canal.  This is a cool part boasts solar powered lighting and native grasses planted along the trail as well as on top of these shade structures.

Martin Luther King park is located between several neighborhoods north of the downtown area and where, 50 years ago, Robert Kennedy told the crowd that Martin Lurther King had been killed and gave a short but emotional speech to a largely black audience.  A number of improvements have been made in the park this year and there are several moving sculptures…

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New publication: Creating Parks & Public Spaces for people of all ages

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Public parks are important places for building a sense of community and social belonging. They are spaces that belong to everyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion or income.

However, the way parks are designed, maintained and programmed doesn’t always reflect the purpose and promise of such uniquely public spaces. Pinched for funds by competing priorities, many municipalities neglect their park networks or fail to invest in these vital places as their communities grow and change.

With the publication of Creating Parks and Public Places for People of All Ages: A Step-by-Step Guide, AARP Livable Communities8 80 Cities and The Trust for Public Land have come together to highlight the importance of parks — and give community leaders (and park advocates from all corners) tools they can use to both create and improve green spaces and public places for people of all ages.

Download your copy from AARP.org

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

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  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

Wintertime in our Parks

As we rush headlong into a week bookended by two long holiday weekends, we might not think first of what continues to happen in our parks, whether we’re in the colder northern parts of the United States or the warmer southern reaches. Increasingly, there are more and more outdoor activities during the winter months that you can enjoy in parks across the United States. So, dress appropriately and come out to work off that eggnog and pie!

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Photo courtesy of  Bryant Park

Ice Skating is a long-standing popular activity.  Close our Boston office is the Frog Pond on the Boston Common. Also popular are the LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and Bryant Park in New York City. New on horizon, with a twist is bumper cars on ice at the ice skating rink in downtown Providence, Rhode Island.

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Picture courtesy of Frog Pond, Boston Common

San Francisco is another city that combines ice skating with a variety of other activities during the holiday week at Embarcadero Plaza, a variety of free activities are offered on selected days with Tuesdays for Disc Golfing, Wednesdays: Skateboarding, Thursdays: Rock Climbing, Fridays: Skateboarding, and Saturdays for Slacklining.

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Winterfest at the Arch (courtesy of Gateway Arch Park)

Not to be outdone, Gateway Arch Park in Saint Louis Winterfest at the Arch at the Kiener Plaza in downtown Saint Louis from December 21st through January 1st has a skating along with special events including food trucks, live music, and giveaways.

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Skijoring in With Park (courtesy of the Loppet Foundation)

The Minneapolis Park Board partners with the Loppet Foundation to sponsor winter activities including cross-country skiing, hiking and skijoring in Wirth Park in Minneapolis.

Later this winter, Saint Paul will host their annual Winter Carnival (Jan 25-Feb 10) and they are working to raise funds to build a multi-story peoples’ ice palace. The center of activities is Rice Park in downtown Saint Paul.

 

There’s many, many more activities and events planned and we’d love to hear about them as we’re (the Center for City Park Excellence at The Trust for Public Land) working to compile a longer report on winter activities in city parks. Please contact us at ccpe@tpl.org