Colorado Springs now ranks 46th out of the 100 largest U.S. cities in the new 2018 ParkScore index, released by The Trust for Public Land.
The Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit organization with a mission of creating parks and protecting public land, uses mapping technology and demographic data to calculate a ParkScore that measures how well cities meet the need for parks.
Colorado Springs received a ParkScore of 49.9 out of a possible 100 this year. The city dropped four spots from last year’s 42nd place ranking, when it earned a ParkScore of 55. Denver, the only other Colorado city in the top 100, ranked 26th, with a ParkScore of 61.9.
Minneapolis, Minn. was the top-ranked city this year, with a ParkScore of 84.2. Charlotte, N.C., with a score of 25.0, was the lowest-ranked city. The rankings and supporting data were released May 22.
ParkScores are based on four characteristics of an effective park system:
- Acreage: Two equally weighted measures, median park size and parkland as a percentage of city area, factor into the ParkScore.
- Investment: Points are awarded based on public spending, nonprofit spending and volunteer hours.
- Amenities: Points are given for the availability of six key park amenities on a per capita basis, including basketball hoops, dog parks, playgrounds, recreation and senior centers, restrooms, and splashpads or spraygrounds.
- Access: Points are awarded based on the percentage of a city’s population living within a 10-minute walk to a park, uninterrupted by physical barriers such as a highway or river.
According to statistics collected by The Trust, Colorado Springs has 10,984 acres of parkland, comprising 9.3 percent of the city’s 118,043 total acres. About 42 people are served per park acre.
Acacia Park, established in 1871, is the city’s oldest park. Red Rock Canyon, at 1,465 acres, is the largest park, and Garden of the Gods Park is the most visited.
The median park size in Colorado Springs is 6.6 acres, and the city spends $81.22 per resident on parks.
The organization found that there are 2.9 basketball hoops in Colorado Springs per 10,000 residents; 1.7 dog parks per 100,000 residents; 3 playgrounds per 10,000 residents; 2.9 restrooms per 10,000 residents; 0.3 recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents; and 0.9 splashpads per 100,000 residents.
The addition of restrooms and splashpads to the Amenities rating factor was a significant update and improvement for this year’s ParkScore, The Trust for Public Land stated in a news release.
Volunteer hours and charitable contributions were newly factored into the calculation of parks investment and provided a ranking boost to cities whose residents strongly support their park systems.
The rankings are designed to spur friendly competition among cities, offer insight into planning for parks and open space, and inspire elected officials and citizens to advocate for more and better parks in their communities, according to the release.
This year, The Trust for Public Land is leading a national movement toward a goal of ensuring that every person in every city has a park within a 10-minute walk of home, the release said.
According to the organization, one in every three Americans — including 116,209 people in Colorado Springs — do not have access to a park within a 10-minute walk. However, 69 percent of Colorado Springs residents live near a park, which exceeds the national average of 54 percent for the top 100 cities.
Those people, according to The Trust for Public Land, are at increased risk of stress, depression, poor mental health outcomes, heart disease, diabetes and other conditions related to inactivity.
A new online tool launched earlier this year allows citizens to explore access to nearby parks.
The top 10 ranking park systems in 2018 and their ParkScores were:
1. Minneapolis, Minn., 84.2
2. St. Paul, Minn., 82.4
3. Washington, D.C., 81.9
4. Arlington, Va., 81.6
5. San Francisco, Calif., 79.6
6. Portland Ore., 78.3
7. Cincinnati, Ohio, 78.2
8. Chicago, 76.1
9. New York City, 74.8
10. Irvine, Calif., 73.4