The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the national organization responsible for assessing and ranking parks in America’s 100 largest cities, released its annual ParkScore rankings. The rankings are based on the five qualities that make park systems great: park access, acreage, amenities like playgrounds and basketball courts, funding to create new parks and maintain and improve existing ones, and, new this year, measures of park equity. Austin landed at number 45, falling eight spots from 2020.
ParkScore’s results reveal widespread park inequities across the U.S. We know access to Austin's parks has been historically inequitable due to generations of institutional racism exemplified by the 1928 City Master Plan. Austin Parks Foundation (APF) is glad to see that the Trust For Public Land has added equity as a separate indicator on this year's report.
Park equity is always top of mind for APF, and we will continue working alongside the community and the Austin Parks & Recreation Department (PARD) to make equitable access to parks, trails and green spaces a reality for every Austinite, though it is clear we have much more work ahead.
Our Parks Are Over-Loved, Underfunded
The Parks and Recreation Department is vastly underfunded. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Austinites relied on local parks, trails and green spaces as a much-needed respite. This increased foot traffic exacerbated the issues already present in our city's parks system. APF is determined to fill the gap and is focused on providing amenities and programming that would otherwise be impossible with the current funding mechanisms.
While we're proud of our work so far, there's still so much to do to get Austin's residents the #1 park system that they deserve. The good news is, you can help us! We encourage y'all to volunteer with us, make a donation or advocate for our parks at city hall.
You can take immediate action by participating in It's My Park Day from Saturday, June 5th to Sunday, June 13th. Additionally, you can participate in the City of Austin's public survey to help determine priorities for the city's budget for Fiscal Year 2022.