• Who We Are

    City Parks Blog is a joint effort of the Center for City Park Excellence at the Trust for Public Land and the City Parks Alliance to chronicle the news and issues of the urban park movement. Read more about us.
  • Urban Park Issues

  • Enter your email address to receive notifications of new City Parks Blog posts by email.

  • Archives

  • Urban Green Cover Ad

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

aarp-parks-cover

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

aarp-thesteps

 

 

The Economic Benefits of Cleveland Metroparks

The Trust for Public Land’s Conservation Economics team recently released a new economic benefits report for Cleveland Metroparks, Ohio. This is a follow-on report to the original economic benefits study of the park district completed in 2013. The study was used in support of a November 2013 levy that would generate 62 percent of their $89 million annual budget for the next 10 years. The levy (a TPL measure) passed with 70 percent of the vote. In 2017, Cleveland Metroparks approached The Trust for Public Land seeking to update their report as part of a continuing effort to demonstrate the value of the park district. We released the new report and infographic (below) on September 17, 2018 and are pleased to share that Cleveland Metroparks continues to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits each year.

49412_CM Economic Benefit Infographic

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.)

arltx-profile-2018

Dallas-profile-2018.PNG

Ftworth-profile-2018

garland-profile-2018

irving-profile-2018

plano-profile-2018

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.

cityparkfacts-totalspend2018

 

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.

Buffalo_NY_01

Buffalo Olmsted Parks, Buffalo, NY