San Francisco has best U.S. parks, Fresno worst: study

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 11, 2012 12:19 PM

(Reuters) - San Francisco has the best city park system in the United States along with Sacramento, Boston and New York, according to a ranking of the 40 best systems across the country.

The Trust for Public Land, a non-profit conservation organization that released the report, said Fresno, California's park system was the one most needing improvement.

It added that San Francisco has the highest score in terms of park access, size and services and investment.

Sacramento ranked second, while Boston and New York tied for third, followed by Washington, D.C.

Cities on the east and west coasts dominated the top 10. Parks in the west coast communities of Portland, Seattle and San Diego made the cut. The east coast's Virginia Beach and Philadelphia also ranked high on the list.

The rating system looked at the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park, the proportion of local land dedicated to parks, and the number of playgrounds and spending per capita on systems.

Southern cities dominated the 10 park systems with the lowest scores. Charlotte came in after Fresno, followed by Louisville, Kentucky. Jacksonville and Memphis also scored low marks.

Arizona had two slots among the bottom 10 - for Tucson and Mesa - and Texas one - for San Antonio. Oklahoma City and Indianapolis rounded out the bottom 10.

Funding for local parks has dropped off since the recession hit local treasuries and voter's paychecks. According to the fund's database of ballot measures passed for land conservation, voters last year approved a total of $312.8 million for acquiring and protecting land, the smallest amount since 1991.

The trust created the scoring system to help communities identify improvements for their park systems.

(Reporting By Lisa Lambert; editing by M.D. Golan and Patricia Reaney)