Ever enjoyed a Mansfield park so much that you wished there was some way to immediately praise it on your smart phone?Well, there’s an app for that, and Mansfield people have been using it – enough that Katherine Rose Memorial Park and Walnut Creek Linear Park ranked No. 1 and 2, among the highest-rated parks in the nation. Meanwhile, Mansfield’s Town Park took top honors as the nation’s most-attended park, with second place going to the linear park.That’s according to Parks & Rec Recreation Business, a trade publication that created the software application and ranking lists on ParksNReviews.com.With only a handful of votes coming in -- 30 gave Town Park its honor – it’s far from scientific, but to city recreation superintendent Andrew Binz, Mansfield parks beat all the others that showed up.“It tells me we have a great park system,” said Binz, who got Mansfield parks involved in the app program in January. “And hopefully we’ll continue to get responses like that.”To participate with reviews, park-goers can use their Internet-accessible phones to scan a code posted on the bulletin boards at four city parks – Rose and Town parks as well as McKnight East and McClendon West. The Quick Response (QR) code, which looks like a dense, square maze, directs the user to an online site where the free ParksNReviews.com app can be downloaded.The park visitors can use the app, which also can be downloaded to post reviews and assign up to five rating stars to their favorite parks. The reviews can help others find the parks with the features they want, either with the app or by direct visit to the ParksNReviews.com website.The app and the monthly park lists were developed in June, and votes have at times topped 100, said Rodney Auth, president of Northstar Publishing Inc. in Medina, Ohio, which publishes the trade magazine. But he said 30 votes also show a high level of satisfaction“What it tells me is that they have well-maintained parks, and they must have amenities that people are enjoying, because they get used,” Auth said. Also, that those participants felt strongly enough to make the effort to review them. “They have to do a lot of work to make a positive comment,” he said. “Thirty people took the time to go a step further, and you don’t do that unless you’re proud of your city parks and want people to use them.”Binz said he also plans to take advantage of other capabilities of the app, including posting promotional photos and videos of each park, as well as the Mansfield Activities Center, Mansfield National Golf Club, Big League Dreams and Hawaiian Falls.And he wants to post the scan codes at hotels and other places likely to draw visitors.“We think it’s a neat tool to have, because it will let you know about all the parks in Mansfield, and you might find some you didn’t know about,” Binz said.The city broke ground March 21 on its 14th park, an 80-acre nature preserve on Matlock Road. Harold Bell, president of the Mansfield Park Facilities Development Corporation board, said he’s excited about the park rankings and increased use of the program.“I think it’s outstanding,” said Bell, whose board plans and provides most of the funding for city parks with a half-cent sales tax. “I think we have one of the best if not the best park system in all of Texas. We have a very good, dedicated staff.”Bell, who has helped guide the city park program during his 17 years on the board, acknowledged he has not cast a vote for the parks via the app program. But he plans to, he said, as soon as he gets a smart phone.
Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641 Twitter: @Kaddmann