Public Parks

Miami’s parks rank a low 38th among nation’s 50 large cities

 

Considering its population-to-acreage average, Miami needs to give more land to parks, according to the Trust for Public Land.

scocking@MiamiHerald.com

The city of Miami’s parks ranked 38th among the 50 largest U.S. cities in the Trust for Public Land’s “ParkScore” index based on park size, ease of access and services and investment.

On a rating scale of one to five “park benches,” Miami scored two — tying with Tucson, Houston and Nashville, according to the nonprofit land conservation organization. Fort Lauderdale wasn’t rated because it’s not in the top 50. Jacksonville ranked 44th with a score of 1.5.

Peter Harnik, the director of the Trust’s Center for City Park Excellence, said Miami scored well on park access, but it was hurt by low marks for park acreage.

“Many people in Miami live within 1/2 mile of a park,” Harnik said. “Most of the parks where people live are very small. Miami needs more park land. The city is very short on playgrounds, too. It has 1.4 playgrounds for every 10,000 residents. That’s pretty low.”

The Trust said ParkScore ratings depend on three equal factors: the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park; the city’s median park size and percentage of total acreage dedicated to parks; and the combined number of playgrounds per 10,000 residents and per capita park spending. Miami, the nation’s 42nd largest city, according to the Census Bureau, devotes only 5.2 percent of its land to parks compared with a national average of 10 percent, the Trust said. And the Magic City’s median park size was only 2.1 acres — less than half the national average of 5.9 acres.

“Miami is working hard to improve and expand its park system,” Mayor Tomas Regalado said in a news release. “Miami is a world-class city, and we are committed to creating a better park system for both residents and tourists alike to enjoy.”

Miami-Dade County, with numerous parks in its cities and unincorporated areas, was not included in the ranking system — “too many difficulties with too many park systems,” according to Harnik. “We haven’t done that yet. We hope to.”

The city with the highest ParkScore was Minneapolis with a perfect score of five park benches, followed by New York with 4.5. Seven cities — Sacramento, San Francisco, Washington, Portland, Virginia Beach, San Diego and Seattle — were tied with four. The four lowest-scoring cities were Indianapolis, Charlotte, Louisville and Fresno — all scoring one.

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