Public Land Trust Announces State ParkScore Rating

During the pandemic, more Americans than ever have access to municipal parks in the nation’s largest cities. However, the most recent annual report issued by the Public Land Trust shows that there are significant differences in park usage rates of different races and income levels. Areas without green space may have a temperature 5 degrees warmer than other areas in the city.

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“In most ParkScore cities, the share of park space in white communities and high-income communities is disproportionately high,” said Linda Hwang, Director of Innovation and Strategy at the Public Land Trust.

Related: Copenhagen Climate Adaptation Park won the Arn Award of the Year

Community parks have countless benefits, which obviously include a safe place to exercise or play, as well as space for relaxation, dog walking, bird watching, and kite flying. Parks are also a source of natural air filtration, plant Absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the air. This helps offset pollution in surrounding cities. Although urban parks provide shade and cooler options than asphalt and concrete, their distribution in most cities is not fair.

After the image of the parking lot turns into a colorful park in New York City

At the end of May, the non-profit organization Trust for Public Land released the 10th annual ParkScore index, which ranks the park systems of the 100 largest cities in the United States. The ranking is based on five criteria. Park equity is a new category added this year as a means to help city leaders identify inequalities when making park budgets and location decisions. According to the press release, “Park equity It compares the park space per capita between colored communities and white communities, low-income communities and high-income communities, and the 10-minute walk of park passages for people of color and low-income residents. If the difference is small or non-existent, the score of the park system will be higher. “

park Visit is the second measure. It determines the percentage of residents who live within a 10-minute walk of the park. The third criterion is the park area, which calculates the median park area of ​​each city and determines the percentage of the city’s dedicated park land. The trust also looks at the amount each resident spends as an investment in the park. Finally, consider facilities such as basketball courts, dog parks, playgrounds, water play areas, and toilets.

Child playing with green riding toy in the park

According to the 2021 ParkScore index report, 75% of the residents of the country’s 100 largest cities live within a 10-minute walk of the park.This marks the highest visit score in the index’s 10-year history, partly due to the agreement to open school playgrounds as public space During the epidemic.

However, the report also found that “the majority of people believe that they are black, Hispanic and Latino, Native and Native American, or Asian and Pacific Islander community residents, and their per capita park space is higher than that of predominantly white communities. And Compared with residents in high-income communities, residents in low-income communities can use 42% less park space.”

Brendan Shane, Director of Climate at The Trust for Public Land, said: “Across the country, we know that cities are getting hotter and floods and severe storms are increasing. Parks and green spaces are critical infrastructure that makes communities more resilient. But residents of colored communities and low-income communities get much less park space than other communities. This is wrong and unfair. Now is the time to invest in parks and green spaces that need to absorb floods and cool down in these communities. If we Otherwise, the most vulnerable people will have to bear the worst impact of the epidemic. climate change. “

Child looking at flowers in the park

The addition of fairness measures has improved the top performance of the past few years, making Washington, DC the highest-ranked city, and people of all races in the region have equal access to city parks.This has always been important, but it is especially true during the year of the pandemic. The Public Land Trust said that out of the 100 cities surveyed, 57 used parks for Coronavirus disease Testing, vaccination or PPE distribution centers, 70 cities use these spaces to provide free meals. Lower equity scores also mean fewer opportunities for access to these key services.

Other cities also benefited from equity recognition. Baltimore rose from 58th in 2020 to 30th this year, and Toledo, Ohio, rose 27th to 50th. Newark, New Jersey also jumped 27th to 42nd.

Boston and San Francisco are the only two cities on the list, with 100% of residents living within a 10-minute walk from parks or other open public areas. But this did not put Boston in the top 10, ranking 12th.

Children playing basketball in the park

Boise, Idaho, also did not enter the top 10%, but it did rank first in the best dog park system. The seventh-ranked basketball court in Irvine, California received the highest score, while Madison, Wisconsin received the best playground award.

Although the number of parks has increased this year, the Public Land Trust Fund expects that municipal budgets will be cut due to economic problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, they found that 63 of the 100 most populous cities have their park departments facing budget cuts.

Father and son playing in the fountain in the park

“We need parks more than ever, and park advocates are preparing to fight,” said Bill Lee, senior vice president of policy, advocacy and government relations for the Public Land Trust. “The Public Land Trust Fund is helping to lead a coalition of more than 300 organizations, businesses, and community groups to support major investments in park equity through the bipartisan Federal Parks, Employment and Equity Act, and we are challenging the private sector to pass fair community funds Invest 50 million US dollars to create parks and open spaces in historically marginalized communities.”

The top 10 park systems in the United States are:

rank city ParkScore (maximum: 100)
1 Washington DC 84.4
2 St. Paul, Minnesota 80.0
3 Minneapolis, Minnesota 79.7
4 Arlington, Virginia 79.6
5 Chicago, Illinois 77.2
6 San Francisco, California 76.3
7 Irvine, California 76.0
8 Cincinnati, Ohio 75.9
9 Seattle, Washington 75.4
10 Portland, Oregon 75.0

+ Public Land Trust

Image courtesy of the Public Land Trust

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