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Cleveland Parks System Ranked 29th In National Study, Up From Previous Year

A new report places Cleveland 29th in the nation for its park system, up six spots from its ranking in a similar study last year.

The ParkScore index from the Trust for Public Land (TPL) looks at various factors to determine the quality of a city’s park system, including accessibility, size, amenities and financial investment.

Cleveland spends almost $140 per resident annually on its parks, said TPL Ohio Director Shanelle Smith, about $50 above the national average. But Smith said she’s concerned the coronavirus pandemic could impact municipal spending on parks across the board.

“We can’t put parks on the chopping block,” Smith said. “They are the cornerstones of our communities, especially here in Cleveland, and we have seen that in the past few months.”

TPL found 83 percent of Cleveland residents live within a 10-minute walk to a park, compared to the national average of 72 percent.

“The question becomes, what does that 10-minute walk look like?” Smith said. “What is the path to that person getting to that park, and what is there when that person actually arrives at the park?”

Cleveland parks also have a higher number of amenities than average, according to the index. There are roughly 11 “splashpads” or similar water features per 100,000 Cleveland residents, compared to the national average of one.

But the city could do more to increase park acreage, Smith said.

“What does it look like to really do a land analysis, how do we bring on some of these vacant lots to create larger parks?” she said.

According to the trust, seven percent of Cleveland’s land is reserved for parks. The average size of a park in Cleveland is roughly 4 acres, one acre less than the national average.

The TPL report only considers parkland within the Cleveland city limits, so parts of the Emerald Necklace close to the metro area but outside the city proper -- such as the Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River and North Chagrin reservations are not included.

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