The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
By Jeff Turrentine
Years ago, my wife and I decided to while away an idle summer afternoon in her Texas hometown by driving our infant daughter to a neighborhood park. We pulled into the empty lot, liberated the baby from her car seat, and made our way somewhat warily through this public yet noticeably deserted space toward its small, forlorn playground. If the grass had ever been green there, it wasn't any longer; the punishing South Texas sun had dried it into a brittle yellow hay. There were few trees next to the playground equipment, and no shade of any kind to be found, so any metal or even plastic surface was searingly hot to the touch. The slide was a nonstarter. I flinched and had to let go immediately when I grasped the chains of the baby swing. The water fountain didn't work. We lasted all of five minutes before returning to the car.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jason Mark
Normally, a writer writes to reach an audience. But what I'm about to tell you, I want you to keep just between us, OK? Whatever you do, don't email this article to your friends, don't share it on Facebook, and please don't post it on Twitter. Because I'm going to let you in on one of the San Francisco Bay Area's best-kept backpacking secrets, and I want to keep it that way.
The Trust for Public Land has released the third annual ParkScore® index, which analyzes the 60 largest U.S. cities and assigns scores based on three things: acreage; services and investments, based equally on playgrounds per resident and total spending per resident; and access, or the percentage of the population living with a 10-minute walk of a public park.
Minneapolis won top honors as the only city park system receiving a perfect “5 park bench” rating. See the highest-ranking city park systems in the U.S. below.
“You can't have a great city without great parks,” said Adrian Benepe, senior vice president and director of city park development for the Trust for Public Land. “Parks provide places for children and adults to be physically active, and they serve as community meeting places where friendships are built and a sense of community is strengthened.”
ParkScore utilizes GIS mapping technology and demographic data to calculate how successfully each city meets the need for parks. Also taken into account are physical obstacles and locations of entrances to parks. ParkScore offers free, interactive maps and tools for local leaders such as a park evaluator to site the best location for new parks.
“This year’s ParkScore results show that even outstanding park systems must improve to stay on top. When population grows, more parks and playgrounds are needed, but when city leaders get creative, they can meet the increased demand,” said Peter Harnik, director of the Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence.
Fresno again took last place in the 60 ranked cities, earning a “1 park bench” score. Find out your city’s ParkScore.
YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE