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Oklahoma City low on parks ranking list, but should move up soon

Oklahoma City's park system ranks among the worst of the 40 biggest cities in the country in a survey by the Trust for Public Land, a group dedicated to creating and conserving parks in the U.S. But city and trust officials think Oklahoma City won't be near the bottom for long.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL mkimball@opubco.com Published: May 28, 2012
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Oklahoma City wound up near the bottom of a list that ranks the best public parks systems in the 40 biggest U.S. cities.

But not only do officials here expect to be moving up the list soon, but even the list-makers themselves see Oklahoma City as being on the rise.

The Trust for Public Land, a San Francisco-based group dedicated to creating and conserving park space in urban areas, ranked Oklahoma City's park system 33rd out of 40 in its ParkScore Rankings released last week. Oklahoma City is joined by other mid-size cities in the region on the bottom of the list.

But with more investment recently in parks and the massive MAPS 3 Core to Shore park on the way, Oklahoma City's parks system is bound to move up in the rankings.

“We're very impressed with what's going on in Oklahoma City,” said Peter Harnik, director of the trust's Center for City Park Excellence.

“Hopefully, Oklahoma City will climb up in the rankings year by year.”

City's size hampers rank

The ParkScore system ranks parks based on the amount of park space relative to the city's size, the number of playgrounds and the number of people who live within a 10 minute walk to a public park, among other things.

“That works favorably for a highly densely populated city like a Boston or a San Francisco, but for a city that has vast areas of undeveloped land or sparsely populated land like ours, it works against you,” said city Parks and Recreation Director Wendel Whisenhunt.

Cities that developed largely after the use of cars became widespread are at a disadvantage when it comes to parks because of their size, Harnik said.

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By the numbers

Best public park systems

1. San Francisco

2. Sacramento, Calif.

3. Boston (tie)

3. New York (tie)

5. Washington

6. Portland, Ore.

7. Virginia Beach, Va.

8. San Diego

9. Seattle

10. Philadelphia

Worst public park systems

31. Tucson, Ariz. (tie)

31. Memphis, Tenn. (tie)

33. Oklahoma City

34. Jacksonville, Fla.

35. San Antonio

36. Indianapolis (tie)

36. Mesa, Ariz. (tie)

38. Louisville, Ky.

39. Charlotte, N.C.

40. Fresno, Calif.

Source: Trust for Public Land's ParkScore Rankings

To learn more

For more information, go to ParkScore.TPL.org.

We're very impressed with what's going on in Oklahoma City. Hopefully, Oklahoma City will climb up in the rankings year by year.”

Peter Harnik

director of Trust for Public Land's

Center for City Park Excellence

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