New Report Details Values for Nation's City Park Systems

New Report Details Values for Nation's City Park Systems

The Trust for Public Land

A report released today by the Trust for Public Land, a national non-profit conservation group, details a new system for deciding how a city's parks serve residents.

The new report, The Excellent City Park System: What Makes It Great and How to Get There, was authored by Peter Harnik, Director of TPL's Green Cities Program.

The report proposes seven measures of city park excellence, as identified by city park directors and park and urban experts nationwide. Those measures are:

· A clear expression of the park system's purpose

· An ongoing process of planning and community involvement

· Sufficient land, staffing and equipment to meet goals

· Equitable access to parks

· Ways to measure user satisfaction

· Safety from crime and physical hazards

· Benefits for the city beyond park boundaries

The report includes case studies of cities demonstrating excellent practices for each measure. It also includes data reported for each of the seven measures by park and recreation officials in the nation's 55 largest cities. The report will be posted on TPL's website, and can be ordered or downloaded at

Based on the criteria in the report, TPL cites park systems in four cities as achieving parks excellence: Cincinnati, Portland, Oregon, Minneapolis, and Seattle.

"We found a wide range in park system quality," Harnik said. "While all cities have room for some improvement, Cincinnati, Portland, Minneapolis, and Seattle seem to be getting most of the factors right most of the time. Not only are they are doing the big things, like maintaining their systems and buying land, they're also doing the smaller things, like making sure they have fee-reduction programs to assure accessibility to all."

TPL has been collecting data on the nation's largest park systems since 1997. Measures of excellence in the report include park spending per resident, park acreage, and the presence of master plans and citizen advisory boards. The report is intended for use by park advocates, concerned citizens, park professionals, and government leaders seeking a way to measure park system excellence.

Related Link: New Report on Urban Parks

For more information contact:

Peter Harnik
The Trust for Public Land
660 Pennsylvania Avenue S.E.
DC 20003

Phone: 202-543-7552
Email: [email protected]

Posted May 20, 2003

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