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Feature Story

June 2017


Where Are the Nation's Top City Park Systems?

Recent Rec Report Feature Stories

KaBOOM! Brings Play to Military Kids - May 2017

USA Basketball Open Court Sessions Get Youths Into the Game - May 2017

Educators Push Legislators to Support Health & Physical Education Programs - May 2017

NFHS Revises Rules for Competitive Spirit Squads - May 2017

Pool & Spa Professionals Fight Immigration Restrictions - April 2017

Grants Available to Boost Dog Parks - April 2017

New Aquatic Management Program Aims to Improve Safety, Efficiency - April 2017

16 Cities Nationwide to Receive Park Improvement Funding - April 2017

Study Confirms: People Pee in Pools - March 2017

Volunteers Get Hands-On History Experience in Virginia - March 2017

Park Hop Inspires Park Usage - March 2017

National Health Campaign Reaches 228,000 Youth in Three Years - March 2017

Outdoor REC Act Signed Into Law - February 2017

Happy 125th B-Day B-Ball! - February 2017

Study Shows Majority—Even Athletes—Are 'Overfat' - February 2017

Gym-Goers Like YMCA Best; Planet Fitness Winning Market Share - February 2017

Georgia State Park Celebrates Its Dark Sky Status - January 2017

Texas Tech Focuses on Functional Fitness - January 2017

Preventing Pool Closings - January 2017

Majority of U.S. Households Visit Attractions - January 2017

City of Henderson Awarded for Water Safety Programs - December 2016

Grant Brings Outdoor Fitness Area to Park - December 2016

Alliance Recommends Actions to Improve Kids' Activity Stats - December 2016

Retractable Enclosures Help YMCAs Cut Costs, Boost Membership - November 2016

Huge Project Seeks to Rebuild Monarch Habitats - November 2016

Report: Camping More Popular Than Ever - November 2016

ACSM Predicts 2017 Fitness Trends - November 2016

CDC: More Than One-Quarter of 50-Plus U.S. Adults Don't Exercise - October 2016

Park District Recognized for Collaboration Efforts - October 2016

Americans Support Increased Local Funding for Parks & Rec - October 2016

High School Sports Participation Up for 27th Consecutive Year - October 2016

National Park Service Celebrates 100 Years of Successful Partnerships - October 2016

Study Shows High Obesity Rates Among Student Athletes - September 2016

Forest Service Celebrates 100-Year-Old Campground - September 2016

Study Shows Artificial Turf Composition Influences Injury Prevention - September 2016

Study Shows Artificial Turf Composition Influences Injury Prevention - August 2016

Council Announces Release of Second Edition of Model Aquatic Health Code - August 2016

Study Finds Seniors, Women Less Likely to Use Parks - August 2016

Level Up Your Park With Pokémon Go - August 2016

Research Shows Light Pollution's Impact on Night Sky - July 2016

Trail-Oriented Development Eases Congestion, Encourages Activity - July 2016

Nonprofits Aim to Boost Inclusive Fitness Opportunities - July 2016

Research Shows Benefits of Nature for Older Adults - June 2016

Destination Play Comes to Draper, Utah - June 2016

New Report Breaks Down the Data on City Parks - June 2016

Virtual Reality, Immersion & Interaction Lead Amusement Park Trends in 2016 - June 2016

Minneapolis has the best park system in the United States, according to The Trust for Public Land's 6th annual ParkScore index. Minneapolis narrowly edged out cross-town rival Saint Paul to earn top honors for the second consecutive year. San Francisco climbed into third, pulling ahead of Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va., largely due to improved access to basketball courts at schoolyards that are now open after hours and on weekends. Portland, Irvine, New York, Madison and Cincinnati rounded out the top 10.

Fresno, Calif., shook up the bottom end of the rankings, vaulting from its 97th position last year to a tie for 90th place in 2017 (with Hialeah, Fla., and Jacksonville, Fla.). Fresno's climb stemmed mostly from the creation of "joint use" agreements that open school playgrounds and athletic fields for public use after school hours and on weekends. Fresno had been the lowest-ranking ParkScore city from 2012 to 2015.

"Joint use of school facilities is a major national trend, and a very positive development," said Will Rogers, president of The Trust for Public Land. "Keeping playgrounds and athletic fields open to the public when schools are closed helps cities significantly increase park access at relatively low cost. The Trust for Public Land enthusiastically supports joint use, but it does not replace the need for new park acquisition and open space preservation."

"Everyone in America deserves to live within a 10-minute walk of a park," added Charlie McCabe, director of TPL's Center for City Parks Excellence. "Parks are proven to improve physical and mental health, increase property values, and bring neighbors together to nurture the personal bonds that make our communities special."

ParkScore rankings are based on three factors: Park Access, which measures the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park; Park Size, which is based on a city's median park size and the percentage of total city area dedicated to parks; and Facilities and Investment, which combines park spending per resident with the availability of four popular park amenities: basketball hoops, off-leash dog parks, playgrounds, and recreation and senior centers.

In addition to ranking park systems in the 100 most populous U.S. cities, ParkScore also provides one-to-five park bench rating summary that provides a snapshot of local park quality. In 2017, three cities received the highest possible 5-bench rating: Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and San Francisco.

ParkScore champion Minneapolis scored strongly 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 nearly matched Minneapolis for park access, amenities and investment, but ceded the top spot due to its smaller median park size (3.7 acres vs. 6.6 acres). Third-place San Francisco outperformed both Minnesota cities for investment and access but was third overall, mostly because of its comparatively small median park size, 1.6 acres.

"You can't have a great city without a great park system," said Adrian Benepe, senior vice president and director of City Park Development for TPL. "Our top-ranked park systems are terrific, but all cities have room to improve. ParkScore is a tool that city leaders can use to guide park improvement, helping planners identify where they should focus their efforts, so more residents can live within a 10-minute walk of a well-planned and well-maintained park."

The 10 top-scoring cities were: Minneapolis; Saint Paul, Minn.; San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; Portland, Ore.; Arlington, Va.; Irvine, Calif.; New York; Madison, Wis.; and Cincinnati.

The 10 lowest-ranking park systems were: Indianapolis; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Charlotte, N.C.; Louisville, Ky.; Mesa, Ariz.; Winston-Salem, N.C.; Laredo, Texas; Jacksonville, Fla.; Hialeah, Fla.; and Fresno, Calif.

ParkScore is free and open to the public to use as a roadmap to guide park improvement efforts. Users can browse interactive maps and zoom in and study park access on a block-by-block basis, pinpointing the neighborhoods where parks are most needed.

For more information, visit www.tpl.org/parkscore.