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Friday, May 22, 2020

New Study Shows Much of San Antonio Still Underserved When It Comes to Public Parks

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2020 at 10:42 AM

click to enlarge Many of San Antonio's public parks, such as the Japanese Tea Gardens, are clustered downtown, limiting access to residents. - INSTAGRAM / AMITY_RIDGE
  • Instagram / amity_ridge
  • Many of San Antonio's public parks, such as the Japanese Tea Gardens, are clustered downtown, limiting access to residents.
Anybody who's spent much time outside of Loop 410 has probably noticed the lack of city parks and green space there. And with Memorial Day nearly upon us, a new study is confirming why that's a problem.

Even though the median park size in San Antonio is 10 acres, nearly double the national average, our city landed at No. 75 on the Trust for Public Land's annual ParkScore Index, which ranks U.S. cities by green space.

Outdoorsy Minneapolis topped this year's report, while concrete-smothered Oklahoma City ranked last at No. 97.

The Trust for Public Land's index ranks cities by park accessibility, acreage, investment and amenities. While the Alamo City earned high marks for acreage, it got dinged for access, earning just 13 points out of a possible 100.

Here's the problem: only 43% of San Antonians live within a 10-minute walk of a park, compared to the national average of 55%.

As we've pointed out again and again, the city didn't keep up with developers' largely unhindered expansion of suburban sprawl, meaning most of our crown-jewel public spaces — the River Walk and Brackenridge Park, for example — are clustered downtown.

Recent additions such as Phil Hardberger Park, while impressive and welcome, are only helping us play a game of catch-up.

This year's ParkScore Index also strikes a cautionary note, not just for SA but cities across the country. The trust warns that coronavirus-related budget cuts are likely to widen inequities in public land access and degrade existing parks.

“When stay-at-home orders permitted, people increasingly turned to parks, trails, and public open spaces to connect with nature, exercise, and enhance their mental and physical health," Trust for Public Land CEO Diane Regas said in a statement. "Residents deeply value parks, but continued inequity and the risk of future budget cuts threaten severe damage to the park systems that make many cities so livable."

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