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Feature Story

July 2018


Trust for Public Land Releases ParkServe Database

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By Chandler Garland

The Trust for Public Land recently launched ParkServe, which provides free and straightforward access to a comprehensive database of American parks. This site is part of Trust for Public Land's movement to put a park or natural area within a 10-minute walk of every American. Containing information for 14,000 cities, ParkServe shows users what areas have access to parks within a 10-minute walk and suggests areas for new parks.

Research shows that proximity to a park increases physical activity levels among children and adults, reducing risk for obesity, diabetes and other serious health conditions. Parks and green space also decrease the amount of carbon dioxide in the air and mitigate the risk of storm damage, while increasing community cohesion and contributing to economic growth.

"Today, more than 100 million people in communities across America don't have a park within a 10-minute walk of home—and that's 100 million too many," said Diane Regas, president and CEO of The Trust for Public Land. "Park Serve will help us address this challenge, so every person in America can experience the countless benefits of having a park close to home."

The Trust for Public Land collaborates with local governments and school districts to restore and create parks, playgrounds and trails. ParkServe is intended as an analytic tool for city planners and other interested parties to guide community improvements and development. Yet, anyone can access ParkServe's data to advocate for new parks and natural areas.

To use ParkServe visit www.parkserve.tpl.org and enter the name of a city. The website will then generate a detailed map with information about the local park system, including:

  • The total number and location of all parks within city limits.
  • The percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park and how that percentage compares to the national average.
  • Customizable, printable and shareable GIS-generated maps residents can use to advocate for effective park investments.

On the maps generated by ParkServe, dark green areas show existing park space and red areas show neighborhoods with the greatest park need. Numbers in blue circles indicate the best locations for new park development, ranked by potential impact such that the circle marked 1 indicates the exact location where a new park would create 10-minute park access for the greatest number of people.

In addition to reporting data at the citywide level for 14,000 municipalities, ParkServe allows users to sort information by demographic factors such as income, ethnicity and age to measure park equity. The site also includes a ParkEvaluator tool, which allows users to create virtual parks on city maps and see how the added green space would change park access and equity metrics. Urban planners can use the simulation tool to guide park planning.

"The Trust for Public Land has provided a remarkable resource with the ParkServe platform that will be a valuable tool for cities across the country," said Mayor Victoria Woodards of the city of Tacoma, Wash. "ParkServe will provide valuable data to ensure that community leaders prioritize investments in quality parks and open spaces where they are needed most."


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