Minneapolis and Saint Paul Tie for First Place on The Trust for Public Land’s 2015 ParkScore® Index

Minneapolis and Saint Paul Tie for First Place on The Trust for Public Land’s 2015 ParkScore® Index
Minneapolis and Saint Paul Tie for First Place on The Trust for Public Land’s 2015 ParkScore® Index

 Twin Cities Share Prestigious Title as Nation’s Best Park System,
Edging Washington D.C., San Francisco, New York, and Portland

Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN – In a historic finish, the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul tied for first place on The Trust for Public Land’s 4th annual ParkScore® index, with each city earning a perfect 5 “park bench” rating from the nonprofit organization. Saint Paul Mayor Christopher Coleman and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board President Liz Wielinski will join Trust for Public Land officials to commemorate this historic achievement at Minneapolis’ East River Parkway at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

Saint Paul was included in the ParkScore rankings for the first time in 2015, as the index expanded from the 60 largest cities in the United States to the 75 largest (Saint Paul is the 66th largest city in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau). Minneapolis is ParkScore’s defending champion and retained its title for the third consecutive year. Washington D.C., San Francisco, New York, and Portland rounded out the top six.

“We’re thrilled our park systems are getting the recognition they deserve. But we can’t rest on our laurels. As our cities grow and draw families to new and redeveloping neighborhoods, our park systems must evolve. At The Trust for Public Land, we’re working especially hard to increase safe and vibrant park space in underserved neighborhoods throughout both Minneapolis and Saint Paul, along key opportunity corridors where investment is occurring, in both cities’ downtowns, and along the world class Mississippi riverfront for all of us to forever enjoy. That’s what it will take to stay number one into the future,” said Susan Schmidt, Minnesota Director of The Trust for Public Land.

ParkScores are based equally on three factors: Park Access, which measures the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park (approximately ½-mile); Park Size, which is based on a city’s median park size and the percentage of total city area dedicated to parks; and Facilities and Investment, which combines park spending per resident with the availability of four popular park amenities. The park amenities evaluated by ParkScore are: basketball hoops, off-leash dog parks, playgrounds, and recreation & senior centers. The addition of basketball, dog parks and recreation & senior centers was the most significant change to the ParkScore system in 2015.

Minneapolis and Saint Paul scored strongly on all ParkScore rating factors. In Minneapolis, 95 percent of residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, nearly equal to Saint Paul’s 96 percent. Minneapolis outranked Saint Paul for median park size (6.8 acres vs. 3.7), but Saint Paul came out ahead on park amenities, significantly outscoring Minneapolis for basketball hoops and playgrounds.

“We’re honored to stay in the top spot on the ParkScore Index and are thrilled to share this honor with our friends across the river. Though it’s great to be number one, we recognize the responsibility we have to take care of such an amazing park system. We will continue our work to ensure that parks and park services meet the needs of the community and are accessible to everyone, with a focus on the most diverse, underserved areas of the city.” said Liz Wielinski, President of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

“The legacy of Saint Paul’s beautiful and expansive parks reflects our commitment to sustainability and livability for people of all ages,” said Mayor Chris Coleman. “It is an honor to receive this recognition today. I know the people of Saint Paul join me in inviting visitors from all over the state, country and globe to come to our city and experience for yourselves the incredible Mississippi, the streams and lakes, the open spaces, the pathways, and the nature that is all around us.”

In addition to Saint Paul, several of the 15 new ParkScore cities had strong debuts in 2015. Cincinnati ranked as the nation’s 7th best park system and Plano finished in 17th. However, no city could match Saint Paul’s historic debut atop the ParkScore index.

“Our goal is for every American to live within a 10-minute walk of a park, and ParkScore is a good snapshot of how America’s largest cities are doing in meeting that goal,” added Will Rogers, President of The Trust for Public Land.

“You can’t have a great city without great parks,” said Adrian Benepe, Senior Vice President and Director of City Park Development for The Trust for Public Land. “Parks provide places for children and adults to be physically active, and they serve as community meeting places where friendships are built and a sense of community is strengthened.”

ParkScore uses advanced GIS (geographic information system) computer mapping technology to create digital maps evaluating park accessibility, making it the most realistic assessment system available. Instead of simply measuring distance to a local park, ParkScore’s GIS technology takes into account the location of park entrances and physical obstacles to access. For example, if residents are separated from a nearby park by a major highway, ParkScore does not count the park as accessible to those residents (unless there is a bridge, underpass, or easy access point across the highway).

In addition to the one-to-five park bench summary rating, ParkScore features an in-depth website that local leaders can use as a roadmap to guide park improvement efforts. The website, parkscore.tpl.org, provides extensive data and analysis that pinpoints the neighborhoods where parks are needed most critically. The website includes interactive maps of each ParkScore city that allow users to zoom in and study park access on a block-by-block basis. The website is free and open to the public.

According to The Trust for Public Land, the 10 highest-ranking city park systems in the United States are:

1. Minneapolis (tie) 5.0 park benches
1. Saint Paul (tie) 5.0 park benches DEBUT YEAR
3. Washington, D.C. 5.0 park benches
4. San Francisco 4.5 park benches
5. New York (tie) 4.5 park benches
5. Portland (tie) 4.5 park benches
7. Cincinnati 4.5 park benches DEBUT YEAR
8. Boston 4.0 park benches
9. San Diego (tie) 4.0 park benches
9. Seattle (tie) 4.0 park benches

The 12 lowest-ranking park systems are:

64. Stockton (tie) 2.0 park benches DEBUT YEAR
64. Tucson (tie) 2.0 park benches
64. Wichita (tie) 2.0 park benches
67. Memphis 2.0 park benches
68. Jacksonville 2.0 park benches
69. Santa Ana, CA 1.5 park benches
70. Mesa, AZ (tie) 1.5 park benches
70. Oklahoma City (tie) 1.5 park benches
72. Louisville 1.5 park benches
73. Indianapolis 1.5 park benches
74. Charlotte (tie) 1.5 park benches
74. Fresno (tie) 1.5 park benches

For more information about ParkScore, visit parkscore.tpl.org and join the discussion on Twitter @TPL_org, #ParkScore.

On Wednesday, May 20, Saint Paul Mayor Christopher Coleman and Minneapolis Parks & Recreation Board President Liz Wielinski will join Trust for Public Land Senior Vice President and Director of City Park Development Adrian Benepe to commemorate the Twin Cities’ ParkScore ranking at Saint Paul’s East River Parkway at 10 a.m. The East River Parkway is located at 2120 E. River Parkway in Minneapolis.

About The Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Nearly 10 million people live within a one-half mile walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.
Annette Majerowicz
Trust for Public Land

Dawn Sommers, Communications & Marketing Director
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
Office: 612-230-6407 / Cell: 612-221-9915
[email protected]