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Greater & Greener in Minneapolis & St. Paul

lighthouse

Not too many park systems have their own lighthouses…

falls

St. Anthony falls on the Mississippi

We’re just six weeks away from the start of the Greater & Greener Urban Parks Conference in Minneapolis and St. Paul and we want to encourage you to attend.  You can register on the website.

realbridge

hike/bike trail footbridge over a stream that empties into the Mississippi.

Recently, the Trust for Public Land held their first all-staff in person meeting in many, many years on the campus of the University of Minnesota and we were able to enjoy a little of these two great park systems. The weather was great and it should be an amazing conference there.  We’re posting a few pictures of what we saw to encourage you to register and join us. (The Trust for Public Land is a sponsor and will be well represented at the Conference. And of course, the City Parks Alliance is the presenter of the Greater & Greener Conference.

bridge

trail and steps leading back to the Grand Rounds trail system

bikecoop

building1

Great architecture can be found in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.

ParkScore: Washington, DC is #4

ParkScore badges_Instagram_2017_4 Washington DC

Washington, DC ranks number #4 out of the 100 largest US cities in the 2017 edition of ParkScore from The Trust for Public Land. (Neighboring Arlington, VA is #6).  Acreage, Access and Investment & Amenities are the three categories that determine a city’s ParkScore and here’s how Washington DC scored in each:

In terms of acreage, the median park size is 1.5 acres (compared to the national median of 5 acres) and the percentage of the city that is parkland is 22 percent (compared to the national median of 9.3 percent.)

In terms of access, 97 percent of the population is within a 10-minute walk to a park, as shown our map below.  Any areas in red, dark or light orange are areas where the population is outside a 10-minute walk.

parkscore-dc-2017

10-minute walk map from ParkScore (click on image to go to live map)

In terms of investment and amenities, spending per resident is $270 (compared to the national median of $80 per resident) and scores for playgrounds, basketball hoops, dog parks and recreation and senior centers all score very well.

For complete information, including our ParkEvaluator tool, visit ParkScore.  If you have questions, please email us at ccpe@tpl.org.

 

Tulsa, Oklahoma and the case for supporting disc golf in public parks

We’re pleased to publish this guest post by Josh Woods on Disc Golf and Tulsa. Tulsa currently has the most disc golf course per 100,000 according to the Trust for Public Land’s annual City Park Facts. Do you have research on city parks, park amenities or city park trends that you’d like to share, please write us at ccpe@tpl.org.

By Josh Woods

Author bio: Josh Woods is an associate professor of sociology at West Virginia University and the creator of Parked: A Disc Golf Think Tank

In August 2005, a young Devan Owens embarked on an unlikely journey. He left his home near Tulsa, Oklahoma and traveled nearly a thousand miles to Flagstaff, Arizona for the Amateur Disc Golf World Championships. Owens was sixteen years old, a precocious lefthanded thrower with a great sidearm and big dreams.

Devan Owens Putt by Frisbeenet

Devan Owens (from frisbeenet)

With only one year of disc golf experience, he won the tournament in his age division and became an amateur world champion. In the next years, Owens dedicated himself to disc golf, developed into a successful touring professional, attracted sponsorships, took on leadership roles in the disc golf community at the local and state levels, and collected 39 tournament wins by spring 2017.

Although this may seem like an obscure sports story, anyone who cares about the future of public parks should take notice. There is an important, symbiotic relationship between disc golfers and public parks. On one hand, disc golfers like Owens depend greatly on the availability of public urban land and the support of parks and recreation departments. On the other hand, city parks benefit from local disc golfers who donate their time, labor and money to the construction and maintenance of public disc golf courses.

In a recent interview, when asked about the origin of his disc golf success, Owens acknowledged the roles of public parks and his disc golf community in Tulsa. “There’s lots going on in the Tulsa disc golf scene,” he said. “We have a couple clubs running tournaments and leagues all year around. You can play organized disc golf almost every day of the week.”

Owens identified the Tulsa Disc Sports Association (TDSA) as the main organizer in the area. He spoke highly of its leaders, credited the TDSA for developing strong relationships with Tulsa city officials, and detailed the TDSA’s large donations of money and labor for the construction and maintenance of area disc golf courses.

“This is going to blow your mind,” he said. “Almost all the disc golf courses in Tulsa were paid for and installed by the TDSA. The association has a long history. Since the 1980s, the generations have come through, running leagues, collecting small fees, organizing fundraisers, setting up work days and trash pickups. The courses are in the ground today because disc golfers of the past gave their time, money and sweat.”

Disc golf appears to be more popular in Tulsa than in any other major city in the country. The Tulsa Disc Golf Facebook group has more than 3,000 members. According to a study based on a random sample of 100 disc golf groups on Facebook, the mean group size is 174 members. Very few disc golf communities in the nation can rival the social media presence of Tulsa disc golf.

According to the 2017 City Park Facts Report, released last month, Tulsa is first in the country in public disc golf courses per capita.[1] As shown in Table 1, the TDSA has outbuilt the vibrant communities in Charlotte, Orlando and Kansas City. Part of this success should be attributed to the availability of public park land. Among the 100 largest U.S. cities, Tulsa ranks twenty-fourth based on the total number of parks, and tenth in park acres per 1,000 residents.

 

Table 1: Top Ten Cities Based on Public Disc Golf Courses per 100,000 Residents[2]

City Population Public Park Spending per Resident (Adjusted) Total Disc Golf Courses Disc Golf Courses per 100,000 Residents
Tulsa  411,880 $60 7 1.7
Durham  257,245 $69 4 1.6
Lexington  312,390 $85 4 1.3
Charlotte  862,069 $43 14 1.3
Orlando  272,010 $119 3 1.1
Fort Wayne  261,136 $102 3 1.1
Cincinnati  304,833 $244 3 1.0
Kansas City  479,367 $128 5 1.0
Anchorage  305,439 $92 3 1.0
Richmond  222,071 $77 2 0.9

While the green space is there, the public funding is not. Tulsa ranks seventy-fourth in spending on public parks, per the 2017 City Park Facts Report. Out of the 100 largest cities in the U.S., 73 spend more money per resident on public parks than Tulsa. It appears that the TDSA builds disc golf courses “the old-fashioned way … they earn it.” Charlotte, North Carolina also has a notably low level of public funding and a high number of disc courses per 100,000 residents.

Most of Tulsa’s seven public courses have concrete tee pads and appear to be well maintained. Located in Mohawk Park, the Black Hawk, a wooded course with tight, yet reasonable fairways, plenty of distance, and at least three water holes, should be on every disc golfer’s bucket list. There’s a second course, the Red Hawk, within the same complex, making it a desirable destination for disc golfers of all skill levels.

“The Black Hawk is the most challenging course in the area,” Owens said. “It would definitely eat up the beginner, but the Red Hawk has a front nine that’s fairly short and open. One thing I like about this place is the Tulsa Zoo in Mohawk Park. It’s cool to be playing disc golf and hear the monkeys and elephants and gorillas going off.”

Tulsa disc golfers are generous supporters of the broader community. Led by the TDSA, Tulsa’s Ice Bowl, a nationwide disc golf charity event played in the dead of winter, has broken records for attendance, and donated tens of thousands of dollars to the community food back. More than 240 people took part in the 2016 Tulsa Ice Bowl.

PDGA Members

When pressed to identify the secret of Tulsa’s success, Owens said, “You know, the only thing I can think of is the people. When they get involved with the TDSA, they realize they’re part of it. They help put in a disc golf course. They help move a basket, or install a new tee pad, or show up for a long workday, and when they do, they become attached to the course forever … that’s the secret sauce.”

The “secret sauce” of Tulsa disc golf exemplifies the spirit of the public land movement in the United States. The generous volunteerism of disc golf communities across the country has led to new disc golf courses in thousands of public parks across the country. The number of public disc golf courses far exceeds the number of publicly owned ball golf courses. And while the popularity of ball golf continues to decline, disc golf is on the rise.

In the 1980s, there were about twenty-five new disc golf courses built each year; by the 1990s, roughly 100 courses were established annually, and between 2007 and 2010, the annual growth rate reached 200 each year.[3] There are now 5,467 disc golf courses in the U.S., and roughly 90 percent of these courses are in public parks.[4]

Other indicators are showing the same explosive growth trend. As shown in the figure below, over a six-year period, between 2006 and 2012, there was a fixed, year-to-year increase in the number of active members of the Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) of about eight percent. Then, in 2013, the number of members jumped by 13 percent, followed by a 19 percent increase in 2014, a 25 percent gain in 2015, and a 17 percent uptick in 2016, when the total number of members stood at 35,662 worldwide, and 30,454 in the United States.[5]

[1] The 2017 City Parks Facts Report is published by the Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence. The data in this report are generated through “a collaboration between the many city, county, state and nonprofit parks agencies and conservancies that work with the Center to submit their data.” The information on disc golf course locations may differ from the PDGA’s figures. The data on disc golf courses by city only include those courses located in public parks within the given municipality, not the metropolitan region. A “public park” refers to publicly owned and operated parks within the city limits.

[2] See the 2017 City Park Facts Report.

[3] Oldakowski, R., and J. W. Mcewen (2013). Diffusion of disc golf courses in the United States. Geographical Review 103(3): 355-371.

[4] For the course count, see the 2016 PDGA Year End Demographics at http://www.pdga.com/files/2016_yr_end.pdf; for the public course estimate, see Oldakowski, R., and J. W. Mcewen (2013). Diffusion of disc golf courses in the United States. Geographical Review 103(3): 355-371.

[5] See the 2016 PDGA Year End Demographics at http://www.pdga.com/files/2016_yr_end.pdf.

ParkScore: Seattle and Chicago Tied for #11

ParkScore badges_Instagram_2017_11 Chicago

On Wednesday, May 24th, the Trust for Public Land rolled out the 2017 edition of ParkScore, the annual ranking of the parks systems of the 100 largest US cities. We’re highlighting results on this blog, but you can check out all of the details at parkscore.tpl.org.

This year, Seattle and Chicago tied for 11th place.  For both, it’s a move upwards in the ranks – in the case of Seattle, they were 13th in 2016 and in the case of Chicago, they were 15th.  Rankings are calculated using a formula that combines Acreage, Access and Investment and Amenities, which is explained in greater detail below.

ParkScore badges_Instagram_2017_11 Seattle

Acreage – includes median park size and parkland as percent of city area. (The median acreage for a park in the 100 largest US cities is 5.0 acres, Seattle has 2.4 acres and Chicago has 1.4 acres. The median percentage of parkland for the 100 largest US cities is 9.3 percent. Chicago has 10 percent and Seattle has 12 percent.)

Access – percent of residents within a 10 minute walk to a park.  (The median for the 100 largest US cities is 66 percent.  Chicago has 97 percent and Seattle has 94 percent.)

Spending – this is a 3 year average of the most recently completed fiscal years.  (The median is $80 per resident for the 100 largest US cities. Chicago is $173 per resident and Seattle is $279 per resident.)

Amenities – basketball hoops, dog parks, playgrounds, recreation & senior centers. We’ve landed on these four amenities because they are a) simple to count and quantify b) occur in all cities and park systems with little influence by region/geography etc. and c) most importantly, because they reflect the needs of a diverse population. Together these amenities serve very young children, active youths and adults, those with pets (who may or may not have children, plus dog parks are an increasingly popular and desired type of park or amenity), and a more elderly or less active population as well.

Press coverage on ParkScore for both cities includes:

For more information, visit each city’s parks & recreation websites: Chicago Park District and Seattle Parks and Recreation.

And if you have questions about ParkScore, please email us at ccpe@tpl.org.

ParkScore: St. Paul is #2

ParkScore badges_Instagram_2017_2 St. Paul

Repeating their number 2 position again in 2017 is St. Paul Parks & Recreation! Congratulations!  St. Paul has a park within a ten-minute walk of 96 percent of their citizens, with 15 percent of the city as parkland and a median park size of 3.7 acres.  You can check out all of the details here or check out their map here.

You can experience all that St. Paul has to offer in their award winning Parks department by attending the City Parks Alliance Greater & Greener International Urban Parks Conference July 29-August 2. Over 1,000 parks advocates, designers, programmers, planners and professionals will be there and it’s a great way to learn more about what our urban parks are doing.

mears-park-st-paul

Mears Park, downtown St. Paul

And check out The Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore with the 2017 rankings of the 100 largest US city park systems. Questions? contact us at ccpe@tpl.org

st-paul-bikeway

Separated bikway nearing completion in downtown St. Paul.

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