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Plano Again Tops North Texas Cities In ParkScore Index, But Others Slip

Robert Nunnally/Flickr
Oak Point Park in Plano.

With summer just around the corner, the nonprofit Trust for Public Land has released its annual ParkScore Index, which rates the park systems in the 100 largest cities in the U.S. Plano improved its score from last year. Unfortunately, competition from other cities caused some North Texas cities to slip.

In fact, most are in the bottom 50 of the index.

How the rankings are determined

Cities get good ParkScores based on three things: access, size, and money invested in facilities like rec centers, playgrounds and dog parks. Car-centric development means North Texas cities consistently score below the national average for park access, which hurts their score.

The rankings

17. Plano

Plano boasts a median park size of 13.3 acres, but where the city really shines is park access.

“Sometimes, cities will have their parks concentrated downtown and the edges are really not served at all, but Plano has been very strategic about how they’re putting in those parks,” said Alexandra Hipel with the Trust for Public Land. That means 74 percent of residents live within a 10-minute walk from a park, which is above the national ParkScore average.

However, Plano’s park amenities got a low score from the Trust.

50. Dallas

Dallas jumped four spots from last year, thanks to increased park spending for this fiscal year. However, most of that increased funding is earmarked for transitioning ownership of Fair Park. The city reserves 13 percent of its land for parks, above the national ParkScore average of 9 percent. Median park size is also larger than average, but only 60 percent of residents live within a 10-minte walk from a park.

59. Arlington

Arlington dropped one spot this year. Its median park size beats out Plano, and the city spends more per resident on parks. However, park access and facilities like playgrounds and recreations got low marks.

63. Garland

Garland followed the same pattern as Arlington, but dropped three spots in the ParkScore index. What hurt the city the most? Garland has zero dog parks.

79. Fort Worth

According to this year’s index, Fort Worth “received one of the nation’s lowest scores for park amenities.” The city provides only 1.4 basketball hoops per 10,000 residents and two dog parks for the entire city. That could be why Fort Worth dropped one spot this year.

85. Irving

Irving’s ranking remained unchanged from last year. The city has a high number of playgrounds per resident, but like its counterparts, park access continues to be an issue.

Photo credit: Robert Nunnally/Flickr

Here’s the full list, and check out last year’s ParkScore rankings

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.