National study claims Jacksonville's parks need help

According to the Trust for Public Land, the City of Jacksonville needs significant improvement in providing park access to its residents. Here's a look at the Trust for Public Land's annual ParkScore ranking of the park systems in America's 50 largest cities.

Published June 6, 2013 in Urban Issues -

The Trust for Public Land ParkScore index analyzes public access to existing parks and open space. The analysis incorporates a two-step approach: 1) determines where there are gaps in park availability across the landscape, and 2) constructs a demographic profile to identify gaps with the most urgent need for parkland. Park gaps are based on a dynamic 1/2 mile service area (10 minute walking distance) for all parks. In this analysis, service areas use the street network to determine walkable distance - streets such as highways, freeways, and interstates are not considered viable means of walkable travel and therefore are considered to be barriers across the landscape.

Demographic profiles are based on 2010 Census block groups to determine park need for percentage of population age 19 and younger, percentage of households with income less than 75% of city median income (Jacksonville less than $35,000), and population density (people per acre). Each profile uses the city average for that profile as the baseline for determining high and very high level of need as shown in the three inset maps. High need falls below the baseline, while very high need falls above the baseline. The combined level of park need result shown on the large map takes the three demographic profile results and assigns the following weights:

50% = population density (people per acre)
25% = percentage of population age 19 and younger
25% = percentage of households with income less than $35,000

Areas in dark red show a very high need for parks while areas in orange show a high need for parks.

Jacksonville's Urban Core



Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park

Ranking -- ParkScore -- City name

 1.  81.0  Minneapolis

 2.  73.5  New York

 3.  72.5  Sacramento

 3.  72.5  San Francisco

 3.  72.5  Boston

 6.  71.5  Washington

 7.  71.0  Portland

 8.  70.0  Virginia Beach

 9.  68.5  San Diego

10.  66.5  Seattle

11.  63.5  San Jose

11.  63.5  Albuquerque

11.  63.5  Omaha

14.  63.5  Philadelphia

14.  62.5  Colorado Springs

16.  61.0  Chicago

17.  60.0  Denver

18.  59.0  Oakland

19.  57.5  Milwaukee

20.  55.0  Raleigh

21.  53.5  Baltimore

22.  52.5  Long Beach

23.  51.5  Kansas City

23.  51.5  Phoenix

25.  50.0  Cleveland

26.  48.5  Dallas

26.  48.5  Austin

26.  48.5  Detroit

29.  47.5  Las Vegas

30.  46.0  Arlington

31.  45.0  Tulsa

31.  45.0  Atlanta

33.  44.0  Fort Worth

34.  42.5  Wichita

34.  42.5  Los Angeles

36.  41.5  El Paso

37.  40.0  Columbus

38.  39.0  Houston

38.  39.0  Tucson

38.  39.0  Miami

38.  39.0  Nashville

42.  37.5  Memphis

43.  35.0  Oklahoma City

44.  33.5  Jacksonville

44.  33.5  San Antonio

46.  32.5  Mesa

47.  30.0  Charlotte

47.  30.0  Indianapolis

49.  29.0  Louisville

50.  27.5  Fresno

Methodology Overview

Confederate Park

Cities can earn a maximum ParkScore of 100.

For easy comparison and at-a-glance assessment, each city is also given a rating of zero to five park benches. One bench means the park system needs major improvement, while five benches means the park system is outstanding.

In evaluating park systems, experts at The Trust for Public Land considered land owned by regional, state, and federal agencies within the 50 largest U.S. cities—including school playgrounds open to the public and greenways that function as parks.

Their analysis is based on the three most important characteristics of an effective park system: acreage, services and investment, and access.

Jacksonville-Minneapolis Comparison

Find your community with ParkScore's interactive map:


Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at

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