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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.

profile-louisville

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.

profile-cincinnati

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.

profile-madison

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

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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Golf Course conversions to public parks

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The former Millbrook Golf Course, now a public park, in Windsor, CT.

A recent article in CityLab discussed the continuing decline of golf in the United States and mentioned that the total number of private golf courses has shrunk, especially in the wake of the Great Recession. While the article focused on the potential conversion to residential and commercial uses, it did mention the conversion of private courses into public parks in a number of cities and towns across the country.  The Trust for Public Land is an active participant in creating public parks from private golf courses.  We work with towns, cities and towns in acquiring golf courses for public parks for a variety of both environmental and recreational uses. Our most recent acquisition is in Windsor, CT, but we’ve also acquired golf courses recently in Marin County, California, Portland, Oregon, Rancho Canada, California and Golden, Colorado.   More about this trend in our updated post, below.

Executive Summary:

The total number of golf courses has been steadily shrinking in the US for the past decade or so.  According the “The World of Golf” study published in 2015 by The R & A (Global Governing body for Golf) the number of courses in the US is 15,372, down from a high of 16,052 courses around the year 2005[1].

Data collected by The Trust for Public Land for the annual City Park Facts report shows the current number of public golf courses in the 100 largest U.S. cities is 413, up from 400 in 2010. Thus, the number of public golf courses is 2.69 percent of the current overall total.[2]

While we have not seen many examples of public golf courses being converted to parks, we do find 19 public or private golf courses being purchased and converted to public parks in the past 12 years. The Trust for Public Land has been an integral part of the latter effort, working on 9 of the 19 in the past 12 years.

Usage in golf courses, according to the National Golf Foundation is declining. In 2000, there were 28.8 M golfers, growing to 29.42 M in 2009, then falling by end of 2016 to 23.8 M golfers.[3] The number of rounds went from 518.4 M rounds in 2000 to 465.5 M rounds in 2013.[4] [5]

Examples of Golf Course to Park conversions in the past 10-12 years. We’ve found a total of 15 in the past 12 years that have been acquired, now in process to convert them into parks or nature preserves or fully converted. Many more have been considered, especially in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California. A current trend is also considering them for conversion to housing subdivisions or commercial or industrial development.  Recent examples include: Tampa [See: http://www.tbo.com/news/localgovernment/pasco-commission-okays-quail-hollow-golf-course-conversion/2330077 ] among many others.

Current / recent golf course conversions to public parks:

Historic conversions of golf courses to public parks:

Examples of restoration techniques and processes used to convert golf courses to parks:

References:

Footnotes:

[1] – Information from the R & A and The National Golf Foundation – websites.

[2] – City Parks Facts 2017, The Trust for Public Land –

[3] – “Annual participation report uncovers favorable trends for the game’s future” April 22, 2017 in Golfdigest.com

[4] – Information from The National Golf Foundation – http://secure.ngf.org/cgi/faqa.asp?

[5] – Information from Statista – https://www.statista.com/statistics/227420/number-of-golfers-usa/