Dallas' Park Score Keeps Getting Worse

Categories: Park and Rec

ParkScoreMap.jpg
Trust for Public Land
Dallas, we have learned, does a wonderful job of building incredible parks over freeways. On that front, you might credibly say we're world-class. As for providing residents with usable public green space in their neighborhoods, that's a different story.

Dallas' rank on the Trust For Public Land's annual Park Score Index fell again this year, dropping to 36th, down from 21st in 2012 and 26th last year. It's not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, since the number of cities ranked by TPL has expanded from 40 to 60 during that time, but Dallas' actual score -- calculated based on a city's park acreage, park funding, and park access -- has dropped as well.

See also: Dallas Is the "Least Outdoorsy" City in America, Apparently

In an interview with The Dallas Morning News, Parks Director Willis Winters identifies the problem -- that the amount of parkland hasn't kept pace with population growth -- and has a solution: "We need to be buying land."

But where? Leaving aside the question of where the money's going to come from, what areas are in greatest need of green space?

Downtown, where for various reasons the city has focused its park-building energies in recent years, actually does pretty well under TPL's criteria, which stipulates that people have a park within a 10 minute walk of their home. So does South Dallas, thanks in large part to the existence of Fair Park, and East Dallas, with White Rock Lake.

The pockets of orange representing "high" park need on TPL's map (the interactive version of which is worth poking around on) are somewhat more predominate south of Interstate 30, particularly in areas like Kleberg and Rylie that were annexed relatively recently.

The angry splotches of red, denoting "very high" park need, are more evenly distributed between north and south. These, by and large, are centered where there are clusters of sprawling apartment complexes. Vickery Meadow is red. So is the area around Skillman Street and Audelia Road. It makes sense, then, that the pockets of high density on TPL's population density map correspond with some of the red areas for parks.

Giving those people neighborhood parks will take more than just buying parcels of land. Maybe development policies that discourage such dense clusters of crappy apartment complexes would be a start.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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15 comments
blithedancer
blithedancer

The "park" over the freeway is just another place to be entertained and eat.  A park is nature; the sights, sounds and smells of nature.  Not the sight, sounds, and smells of a freeway and restaurants.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Wonder if there is any correlation between Dallas' "Fat" ranking (I recall we were considered fairly obese not too long ago) and the apparently small distance we're able to walk in 10 minutes?

Threeboys
Threeboys

The city didn't build an incredible park over a freeway, private funds did.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Samuell Farm, which is owned by Dallas, is probably the largest non state/federal park in Texas. If were talking acreage it should vault it up the rankings. But my guess is the people who did the study aren't even aware of it. Hell, most of the city isn't aware of it.

Guest
Guest

Also, the Village is categorized as high-need.  They have their own rather extensive park.

Guest
Guest

How do they judge a ten-minute walk?  I used to live in La Vita on Lovers Lane, which is apparently high need, and I walked my dog to Ridgewood Park all the time in less than ten minutes.

Alexander
Alexander

Part of that angry red splotch in Vickery Meadow abuts an honest to god park. How do the Park Score people come up with that? Other things that don't make sense: the Trinity Audubon Center is listed as "high level of need" for a park (it is a park), the Dallas Athletic Club is listed as "high need"; my house is listed as "moderate need"-- I'm .55 miles from a City of Dallas park, though I'm .05 miles from a DISD school that has multiple playgrounds. 

Park Score is run by the type of people who hate Dallas because they got stuck at DFW once and had to sleep at a hotel in Grapevine. Not to say we don't need better parks, but this is a crap rating.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

We just need to build more bridges so we can put grass on them.

JFPO
JFPO

The obvious solution is to give away park land to private interests while paving over existing green space, right Parks Department?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

blame the park board. how do dallasites get a hold of them?

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

So sorry, the City does not get to include the entire Trinity Floodway.  Just try getting into it.  Most access gates are locked and posted with no trespassing signs.

Tipster1908
Tipster1908

@blithedancer No, what you're thinking of is a nature preserve. Parks are for people. They are about community and coming together, not a place to get away.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Threeboys 

On the contrary, the State and City ponied up about $100M to cover Woodall Rodgers.  The private funds just provided the greenery.
  And now that is tax supported.

JFPO
JFPO

I'm sure they've all deleted those generic gmail accounts by now.

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