Dallas Parks Lead Texas Cities in National Report

Mayor Eric Johnson celebrated dallas’ rise to the top of the Trust for Public Land ParkScore to rank above other Texas cities during a press conference at City Hall on Wednesday.

“I’m here to announce that we’ve moved up again in the Trust for Public Land ParkScore rankings,” Johnson said. “This year, we passed Austin to become — you ready for this? — the number one park system of any major city in Texas.”

The Trust for Public Land ranks Dallas 38th among 100 of the largest cities in the U.S., jumping Austin at number 44. Last year, Dallas ranked 43rd, and Austin was 41st, The Dallas Express reported. The nonprofit organization assigns points for 14 measures across five categories: acres, amenities, investment, access, and equity. Points are awarded on a relative basis. Each City’s total points of a maximum of 500 are normalized to a ParkScore rating of up to 100.

In addition to Dallas, eleven Texas cities are ranked in this year’s ParkScore ratings — Austin (44); arlington (47); San Antonio (53); Houston (68); Laredo (71); El Paso (72); Garland (74); Corpus Christi (78); Fort Worth (91); Lubbock (97); and Irving (99).

Across the five measured categories, Dallas received the most points (75) in “equity,” followed by “access” (65), “acres” (58), “investment” (49), and “amenities” (35).

“The equity score indicates the fairness in the distribution of parks and park space between neighborhoods by race and income,” according to the Trust for Public Land Dallas report. “This category is an average of two types of metrics. On the first set of measures, Dallas scores above average: 64 out of 100 points for people of color living within a 10-minute walk of a park and 63 points for low-income households.”

The second set of measures compares the distribution of park space.

“In Dallas, residents living in neighborhoods of color have access to 48% more nearby park space than those living in white neighborhoods (100 points out of 100),” the report shows. “Residents living in lower-income neighborhoods have access to 2% more nearby park space than those in higher-income neighborhoods (72 points out of 100).”

Dallas’ low score in the category of amenities was explained in the report as follows.

“The amenities score indicates the relative abundance of six park activities popular among a diverse selection of user groups (kids, teenagers, adults, seniors). Overall for this category, Dallas scores below average, though it varies by amenity: basketball hoops (59 points out of 100), dog parks (16 points), playgrounds (22 points), senior and rec centers (34 points), permanent restrooms (35 points), and splashpads (41 points).”

In last year’s ParkScore rankings, Dallas also scored highest in equity and lowest in amenities.

Unlike some City departments, the City’s Park and Recreation Department has largely avoided internal and external dysfunction, The Dallas Express has reported. One contributing factor is the nonprofit Parks for Downtown Dallas, which has helped the City create public parks over the last nine years.

That positive progress will likely continue, with Johnson reminding attendees during Wednesday’s press conference that the City’s first-ever greening czar, Garrett Boone, remains an integral part of that effort. Boone was named to that position in April 2023.

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