Cleveland fares well in park space study

Jeffery FrischkornThe face of Cleveland-based parks fared well in a recent judging conducted by the Trust for Public Lands.

In its just-released list, the national land-conserving and open-space promoting group ranks Cleveland square in the middle; placing 25th out of the nation's 50 largest cities.

In something of a cute turn of terminology, the Trust uses a park bench symbol as a measuring tool.

Consequently, the more park bench symbols a city has the higher is its ranking, up to a maximum of five benches.

Give Cleveland 2 ½ benches out of a possible of five benches and with a weighted score of 50 points out of a possible 100 points.

Cleveland, says the Trust, does well in serving its various populations by offering parks within 10-minute walks of Cleveland's residents.

In all, the Trust also says, Cleveland serves 97 people for every acre of parkland found within the community.

Cleveland consists of 49,726 acres of which 3,130 acres is parkland. Thus, as a percentage of parkland to total city size Cleveland sets the mark at 6.3-percent.

The Trust says Cleveland spends an average of $88 annually on parks for each of its 396,337 residents.

Columbus likewise scored in the Trust's Top 50 but further down the list at 37th place and with just two benches and a weighted total score of 40 points out of a possible 100 points.

Here, says the Trust, Columbus contains 138,988 acres of which 10,847 acres are in parkland.

The city's annual park cost per resident (Columbus's population is 773,935) is $62.33.

Here, too, Columbus serves 33 people for each acre of parkland.

Thus, Columbus's percentage of parkland to total city size is 7.8-percent.

Ranking first with a weighted score of 88 out of 100 is Minneapolis.

Minneapolis is also the only one of the Trust's 50 judged cities to earn the coveted goal of all five park benches.

This city spends a whopping $210.33 annually per person on parks, the city having a population of 379,969, a size of 36,780 acres of which 5,542 acres are in parkland.

Second place was nailed by New York City; yes, New York City with a weighted score of 73.5.

Once again, spending by a city per resident was a strong indicator. New York's annual spending per person for parks is $160.33. And that is for a city with a population of just under 8.2 million.

Rounding out the rest of the Top 10 were Boston, Sacramento and San Francisco (each with 72.5 benches); Washington, D.C. And Portland, Org. (each with 71.5 benches); Virginia Beach (70 benches); San Diego (68.5 benches); and Seattle (66.5 benches).

Bringing up the rear at Number 50 is Fresno, Calif. With a paltry one park bench. Fresno did not fare well in any category, dragging the city down.

Officially, the subjective criteria the Trust employed in deriving its rankings were:

“Cities can earn a maximum ParkScore of 100.

“For easy comparison and at-a-glance assessment, each city is also given a rating of zero to five park 'benches.'

“One 'bench' means the park system needs major major improvement, while five 'benches' means the parks system is outstanding.

“In evaluating park systems, experts at The Trust for Public Land considered land owned by regional, state, and federal agencies within the 50 largest U.S. Cities – including school playgrounds open to the public and greenways that function as parks.

“Our analysis is based on the three most important characteristics of an effective park system: acreage, services (plus) investment, and access.”

Categories: Ohio – Jeffrey Frischkorn

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