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How Do Austin Parks Compare to the Rest of the Country?

1-ParkScore Map.jpg
Image courtesy
In this detail of Austin's ParkScore map, orange and red represent neighborhoods in need of parkland.

Austin’s “ParkScore” was announced today by the nonprofit Trust for Public Land.

What’s a ParkScore? The assessment looks at parks in the 40 largest U.S. cities, including Austin. The Trust for Public Land studies park systems from several different standpoints.

“The best possible score would be five park benches,” Peter Harnik, director of the trust’s Center for City Park Excellence, tells KUT News.

ParkScores are based on a three-point criteria:

  • Park Access: The percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park (approximately half a mile)
  • Park Size/Acreage: Based on a city's median park size, and the percentage of total city area dedicated to parks
  • Services and Investment: An assessment of the number of playgrounds per 10,000 city residents and per capita park spending.

With these things in mind, how do Austin’s parks rank? Out of the top 40 cities, Austin ranked number 19, with a score of two-and-a-half benches. Despite this, Harnik says “It’s the highest ranking city in Texas, so that’s impressive. It’s higher than Dallas and Fort Worth and Houston and El Paso.”
Austin scored high on its large amount of parkland. The downside? Some people have difficulty to accessing the parks. “Austin needs more parks close to where people live,” Harnik suggests. “Austin needs more playgrounds … not only for the children, but also for the adults.”

“The city is sort of halfway there,” Harnik continues. “We’re impressed with some aspects of their system and we have suggestions of how Austin can have even a better park system.”

You can learn more and see all 40 cities’ scores on the ParkScore website.

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