Last month, the Trust for Public Land published its annual ParkScore index; a ranking of the top 100 largest U.S cities parks. TPL determines the rankings by looking at factors like accessibility, funding, integrity and resources.
For 2018, some of last year’s hard work on advocacy and public participation helped Austin move up four spots to #42. Compared to other Texas cities, Austin ranks second highest with Plano, Texas at #18. Some of the other Texas cities trailing Austin include Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Fort Worth and Irving. Here at APF, we’re thrilled that city-wide park support is on the rise.
The goal of ParkScore is to encourage the ease of access and creation of parks in American cities that need it the most. Some of the areas APF is focused on include:
- Access: generally measured by the percentage of population living within a ten minute/ half mile walk to a park.
- Amenities: anything like basketball hoops, dog parks, playgrounds, pools, senior and recreation centers, restrooms and splashpads.
- Investment: how much money is being put into the parks. This includes public spending, non-profit spending, and volunteer hours for public and non-profit organizations.
This year, our parks department shared more information with TPL about our park land, updates and green space statistics. While this rank improvement is something to celebrate, our city has a lot to improve upon. Additionally, Austin moved up mostly because other cities moved down. This could be due to a lack of shared information, or other cities losing momentum on park conditions. Support from the community and the drive for public cooperation are driving our city towards equal access and amenities, but we need your help to keep up the momentum.
The bottom line is Austin is still not investing in parks the way it should be, and we need you to help change that. If we look at the comparison between Austin and other high rankers, for example, Chicago, San Francisco, or New York, Austin has almost double the amount of green space acreage. However, lack of access, funding, and amenities hold us back from a higher ranking. In addition to the top ranking cities, Austin spends only an average of $108 per resident. Whereas well-invested and high-ranking parks typically spend an average of $200 per resident.
Improving the parks in our city requires action and involvement! Contacting city council and staying up to date on upcoming bond elections and council meetings will ensure you’re ready to support Austin’s green spaces. To stay up to date on advocacy, join the APF email list , find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or follow our blog.