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Plano Has the Best Park System in North Texas, Report Says

But Dallas is moving on up in the annual ranking from the nonprofit Trust for Public Land.
By |
Natalie Gempel

A few weeks ago, when I talked to the CEO of Parks for Downtown Dallas, she noted there is no universal rubric judging whether a park is successful. That’s true. But the Trust for Public Land does have a ParkScore metric that it uses every year to rank park systems in cities across the country. Its 2021 report is out today.

Plano, as it has the last several years, leads the region with the 15th best ParkScore in the U.S. The Trust for Public Land sent over a press release with this chart breaking down several North Texas cities’ performance in the ParkScore.

DFW Metro Area ParkScore Results, Summary Table
2021 Rank 2020 Rank 2019 Rank
Plano 15th 17th 15th
Dallas 50th 54th 52nd
Arlington 78th 59th 68th
Fort Worth 89th 94th 89th
Garland 93rd 83rd 80th
Irving 97th 89th 88th

The nonprofit grades park systems using a few criteria, with its overall goal being to ensure everybody living in an American city is within a 10-minute walk of a park. According to this report, that’s already the case for 78 percent of Plano residents, and 73 percent of people in Dallas. The national average is 55 percent.

So what puts Plano so far ahead of Dallas in these rankings? It’s those other criteria. In terms of sheer acreage and median park size, Dallas has its Collin County neighbor beat—although 10 percent of Plano city land is used for parks, vs. 7 percent in Dallas. But Plano invests a lot more in its parks, spending about $222 per resident, according to the report. Dallas’ per capita park spending is $94. Plano parks also have more amenities like basketball courts and playgrounds.

Garland, Irving, and Arlington all took pretty big tumbles in this newest ranking. Arlington, where 58 percent of residents are within a 10-minute walk to a park, seems to have been dinged by a low equity score. Black and Hispanic residents and low-income neighborhoods have much less access to park space in Arlington, compared to the city median.

Plano held steady, as mentioned, while Dallas got bumped up four spots from last year. And with more parks getting planted every day, it’s possible the city keeps moving on up.

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