Fort Worth and Arlington fell in their rankings on the annual Trust for Public Land ParkScore index, which was expanded to 100 cities this year.
Fort Worth dropped to 78th from 60th in 2015, and Arlington fell to 58th from 47th, the ranking shows. The rankings grade how well the cities are meeting park needs for residents, the nonprofit group said in releasing its list Thursday.
Other North Texas cities also dropped.
Plano went to 18th from 17th, and Dallas went to 54th from 47th.
Minneapolis and St. Paul topped the list, followed by Washington, San Francisco and New York.
Fort Worth and Arlington were praised for having good-sized parks but were hurt by low marks for having too few amenities, such as the number of basketball hoops, playgrounds and recreation centers per resident, the group said.
Scores are based on access, the percentage of residents living within a half-mile of a park, the city’s median park size, and investment, or how much the city spends per resident.
We look at it as one of many measures. We have our own local measures and that’s what means the most to us. We serve our constituents. That is the most useful measurement.
Richard Zavala, Fort Worth parks director
Richard Zavala, Fort Worth’s parks director, said that while his department looks at the ParkScore ranking, which he says tends to favor more densely populated cities, they put more weight on what Fort Worth residents say are the priorities.
The city regularly updates a master plan for park development, he said.
“We look at it as one of many measures,” Zavala said of the ranking. “We have our own local measures, and that’s what means the most to us. We serve our constituents. That is the most useful measurement.”
Likewise, Gary Packan, an assistant parks director in Arlington, said the city is responding to what the public asked for in a hefty bond program two years ago and that $100 million in park projects will be released in the next several years.
“This is one tool we use to measure and evaluate ourselves,” Packan said of the index. “It’s not the only tool we use.”
With 11,787 acres of parkland, or 5.5 percent of its land area, Fort Worth serves 68 people per park acre, the data show. Arlington, with 4,714 acres of parkland, or 7.7 percent of its land area, serves 79 people per park acre.
55 percent Percentage of Fort Worth and Arlington residents who live within a 10-minute walk of a park
In both cities, 55 percent of the population lives within a 10-minute walk, or about a half-mile, of a park.
“Every American deserves to live within a 10-minute walk of a park, and ParkScore helps us measure which cities are meeting that mark,” Will Rogers, Trust for Public Land president, said in a statement.
Fort Worth has 2.3 playgrounds per 10,000 residents, and Arlington has 1.3 playgrounds. Fort Worth spends $81.42 per resident on parks, and Arlington spends $90.22 per resident, according to Trust for Public Land data.
Fort Worth tied with Houston, Wichita, Kan., and Chula Vista, Calif. Arlington tied with Riverside, Calif.
In 2014, Fort Worth voters approved a $31.4 million bond package for park facilities and infrastructure improvements. Those include the construction of a community center in the Como community and expansions at the centers in Eugene McCray and Handley-Meadowbrook parks, as well as replacing playground equipment at nine parks, among other things.
The City Council learned recently that $11 million of that work should be completed this year and all the projects in the 2014 bond program by the end of fiscal 2019.
Also in 2014, Arlington voters approved a $65 million bond package to improve parks, the largest parks bond program in that city’s history. Arlington looks to add two recreation centers, and a new senior center is being discussed, Packan said.