Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Who is The Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, historic sites, and other natural places. We’re working with communities across the country to ensure that everyone lives within easy walking distance of a well-maintained park.
Learn more about our work at tpl.org.
What is ParkScore?
ParkScore is the most comprehensive rating system ever developed to measure how well the 40 largest U.S. cities are meeting their residents’ need for parks. ParkScore was designed to help local communities improve their park systems and identify where new parks are needed most.
Why are parks so important?
Close-to-home opportunities to exercise and experience nature are essential for our physical and mental well-being. Studies show that parks encourage physical activity, reduce crime, revitalize local economies, and help bring neighborhoods together.
How is a city’s ParkScore determined?
ParkScore is based on the three most important characteristics of an effective park system: acreage, services and investment, and access.
- Acreage: a city’s median park size and the percentage of total city area dedicated to parks
- Services and Investment: the number of playgrounds per 10,000 city residents and park spending per resident
- Accessibility: the percentage of residents living within a ten-minute walk of a public park
What do the benches mean?
ParkScore awards a rating of zero to five park benches. One bench means the park system needs major improvement, while five benches means the park system is outstanding. In ParkScore’s ratings of the 40 largest U.S. cities, no city received a perfect five-bench score and no city received zero benches. That means all cities have room to improve and all cities have something to build upon.
What kind of park spending is considered in a city’s ParkScore?
ParkScore includes all spending that flows through a city’s park system, including city, county, state, and federal dollars.
Does ParkScore measure park quality?
Park quality is impossible to measure objectively, so there is no specific scoring factor for it. However, the three factors that make up ParkScore all reflect quality: good park systems need adequate acreage, services and investment, and access.
To learn more about what makes a quality park system, see The Trust for Public Land’s report, The Excellent City Park System: What Makes It Great and How to Get There.
What can I do to help improve park access in my city?
Get involved and stand up for parks! Urge elected officials to improve your city’s ParkScore by supporting smart investments in parks. City leaders and park planners should review our detailed data to identify where new parks are needed most and which park improvements can deliver the greatest impact.
Can a city improve its ParkScore?
Yes. Every city can improve its ParkScore. Even in tough economic times, park planners and advocates are finding innovative ways to increase acreage, boost access, and make smart investments in parks. The Trust for Public Land offers an array of services to help cities expand and improve their park systems.
Contact us for a consultation
Parks can be expensive. Should cities prioritize acquiring land for new parks, even in tough budget years?
Creating new parks is important, but acquiring land is only one of many strategies to improve park systems. In some cases, a city can increase its ParkScore by adding new park entrances or creating safe routes around obstacles like waterways and busy streets.
How can The Trust for Public Land help my city?
The Trust for Public Land provides comprehensive services to help local leaders improve their park systems.
My city is not listed. Why? How do I get it included in ParkScore?
The Trust for Public Land analyzed the park systems of the 40 largest cities by population within the city boundary. Some large metropolitan areas were not included because the core city is too small to rank within the largest 40 cities. These cities include Cincinnati, Cleveland, Miami, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis.
Contact us to find out how to add your city to ParkScore.