Cleveland parks improve

Voinovich Park in Cleveland (WTAM)

(Cleveland) - Cleveland ranked 37th out of 100, on The Trust for Public Land's ParkScore Index for 2018, improving eight positions since last year. 

The city's ParkScore was helped by strong marks for Park access and park amenities, especially splashpads and other water play infrastructure. 

Cleveland benefited from the inclusion of splashpads in the ranking system for 2018. 

According to The Trust for Public Land, Cleveland leads the nation on splashpads, providing 10.4 water features per 100,000 residents, more than 10 times the national ParkScore average of 0.9. Cleveland also scored well on the park access rating factor. 

According to ParkScore, an impressive 80 percent of Cleveland residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park Nationally, 70 percent of ParkScore city residents meet the 10-minute standard. 

However, Cleveland's ranking was hurt by its relatively small median park size (3.1 acres vs. the national ParkScore median of 5.0) and because the city reserves only 6 percent of city land for parks, compared to a national average of 9.3 percent. 

Minneapolis and Saint Paul retained their top positions on the annual list. 

This year, ParkScore rankings are based equally on four factors: Park Access,which measures the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park; Park Acreage,which is based on a city's median park size and the percentage of total city area dedicated to parks; Park Investment,which measures park spending per resident; and Park Amenities,which counts the availability of six popular park features: basketball hoops, off-leash dog parks, playgrounds, splashpads and other water play structures, recreation and senior centers, and restrooms. 

The addition of restrooms and splashpads to the Park Amenities rating factor is a significant update and improvement for ParkScore in 2018. 

The index also now includes volunteer hours and charitable contributions in its calculation of parks spending, providing a ranking boost to cities whose residents strongly support their park systems.

Atop the ParkScore rankings, Minneapolis narrowly edged out neighboring Saint Paul to earn top honors for the third consecutive year. In another major upward move, Chicago cracked the top 10 for the first time in ParkScore history.

From a national perspective, public spending on parks reached $7.5 billion among the 100 ParkScore cities in 2018, a $429 million increase over the previous year. 

This additional funding contributed to a slight increase in park access overall. Seventy percent of residents in ParkScore cities live with a 10-minute walk (or a half-mile) of a park in 2018, up from 69 percent last year. 

The Trust for Public Land is leading a movement to put a park or natural area within a 10-minute walk of every U.S. resident. More than 200 mayors have endorsed the 10-minute goal.  

"The research is clear: quality, close-to-home parks are essential to communities. Everyone deserves a great park within a 10-minute walk of home," said Diane Regas, President and CEO of The Trust for Public Land. "These rankings are the gold-standard for park access and quality, and empower people to hold their leaders accountable." 

Charlotte settled at the bottom of the ParkScore list, ranking just below Fresno, CA, Mesa, AZ, and Hialeah, FL. Fort Wayne and Indianapolis declined to participate in ParkScore 2018 and were not ranked. 

Gilbert, AZ, was not ranked because the necessary data was unavailable.

Boise successfully defended its title as the best park system for dogs, with a nation-leading 6.7 dog parks per 100,000 residents. 

Norfolk, VA received top marks for basketball hoops, Madison scored best for playgrounds, and Cleveland edged out New York for splashpads and water features. "High quality parks make cities healthier in nearly every way. Proximity to parks increases physical activity levels among children and adults, reducing risk for obesity, diabetes, and other serious health conditions. Parks also help clean the air, mitigate the risk of storm damage, build relationships among neighbors, and contribute to economic growth," said Ali Hiple, of The Trust for Public Land in an interview with WTAM.

(Photos by Ken Robinson/WTAM)

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