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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It's hard to catch up with the denser cities on the coasts.

Investment means improvement

The city's park system was also long ignored by voters, but money for more parks has been included in three straight bond packages, Whisenhunt said.

It's leading to more parks, and better maintenance of existing parks.

“I'm just thrilled with how far our parks system has come in such a short amount of time,” Mayor Mick Cornett said after last week's city council meeting, which included a look at more money for maintenance and adult athletics programs in next year's city budget. “We went 20 years, I think, without any sort of capital improvements for our parks.”

To help city residents get more out of their parks despite sprawl, the city has worked to create large regional parks with lots of amenities. It also helps hold down maintenance costs.

“We're able to send a crew there (to regional parks) and work all day instead of spending a lot of time traveling between parks,” Whisenhunt said.

Harnik said Oklahoma City should continue investment with the long-term in mind, because decades-long focus on improving green space can lead to game-changing results over time.

“It's important for Oklahomans to push their elected officials to devote more money to parks, fix up rundown parks and buy more land in the needier neighborhoods,” he said.



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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