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Phoenix metro cities rank in bottom third of national park study

By Christina Estes
Published: Wednesday, May 24, 2023 - 5:05am
Updated: Wednesday, May 24, 2023 - 7:20am

Margaret T. Hance Park in downtown Phoenix
Christina Estes/KJZZ
Margaret T. Hance Park in downtown Phoenix in 2018.

A national study of public parks released Wednesday puts several Valley cities in the bottom third with Gilbert ranking last among the 100 most populous U.S. communities.

The nonprofit Trust for Public Land annually rates cities based on the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park, equity across different socieconomic neighborhoods, amenities, acreage and park spending per resident.

Mesa (96), Phoenix (85), Glendale (81) and Chandler (73) join Gilbert (100) in the low ranks. In 61st place is Scottsdale, the Valley’s highest ranking city.  It scores high for acreage, low for access and equity, and in the middle for investment and amenities. Among Arizona cities, Glendale has the highest percentage of residents who live within a half mile of a park at 74%, closest to the nationwide average of 76%.

The Trust’s annual ParkScore report finds Washington, D.C., as the nation’s best big-city park system for the third straight year. Saint Paul, Minnesota, was a close second. San Francisco and Boston are the only ParkScore cities where 100% of residents are within a half-mile or 10-minute walk from a park.

In a press release, the Trust for Public Land included new research citing high rankings are healthier places to live.

In cities that ranked 1-25, residents are 9% less likely to report poor mental health and 21% less likely to be physically inactive. According to the release, “This correlation, based on PLACES data produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, holds true even after controlling for race/ethnicity, income, age, and population density.”

Details on each of the 100 cities can be found at tpl.org/parkscore.

Trust for Public Land