There’s good news and bad news in the Trust for Public Land’s annual ParkScore rankings. First the bad: Dallas slipped two spots in its national ranking among city park systems (from 52 to 54), mostly due to its comparatively weak park amenities and limited dog parks and restrooms. But Dallas’ park access score has “improved dramatically,” according to the report, thanks to new trails and agreements with schools to open grounds for public use. The city’s median park size of 7.7 acres also exceeds the national median of 5.2 acres. These gains can be attributed to the city’s embrace of the Trust for Public Land’s “10-minute Walk to a Park” campaign.
But the real story in this year’s report is—you guessed it—the COVID-19 pandemic. Analysts with The Trust for Public Land are concerned that the economic crisis caused by the pandemic will strip municipal budgets and hamper progress to increase park access. The report points out that the city of Dallas furloughed 235 Parks and Rec employees last week.
“While few cities have announced budget plans for 2021 and beyond, park advocates are gearing up for a fight,” said Bill Lee, senior vice president for policy, advocacy and government relations at The Trust for Public Land. “We encourage the federal government to provide relief to struggling park systems in the next recovery bill. We need our parks, and we will not allow park systems to be collateral damage from the COVID-19 pandemic.”Read More