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Charlotte parks rank near bottom in U.S. survey

Charlotte is near the bottom of the nation’s 50 largest cities in the second annual ranking of parks compiled by an urban conservancy group.

Despite ranking No. 1 in the average size of its parks, Charlotte was tied for 47th in the overall rating. The city’s ranking was hurt by low scores for access to parks, government spending on recreational facilities and the number of playgrounds.

Raleigh, meanwhile, was ranked 20th in the poll, conducted by the Trust for Public Land, which calls itself the nation’s leading nonprofit organization in support of urban parks.

Charlotte was ranked 39th among 40 cities listed in last year’s inaugural poll, and organizers said the city’s decline was due to the addition of 10 cities, most of which fared better than Charlotte.

In fact, officials with the Trust for Public Land said Charlotte-area leaders are working to make improvements.

“Charlotte’s leaders are already using ParkScore to identify the areas where park need is greatest,” said David Proper, Trust for Public Land’s director in North Carolina. “In future years, we expect to see Charlotte climb in the ParkScore rankings.”

Charlotte earned 1 “park bench” in the ratings and was tied in overall score with Indianapolis; only Louisville, Ky., and Fresno, Calif., ranked lower.

The No. 1 city was Minneapolis, which received five park benches. New York was second in the survey, with Boston; Sacramento, Calif.; and San Francisco tied for third.

With a median park size of 17 acres, Charlotte led the way in that category.

But the area fared poorly when it came to park access. Organizers of the survey said only 26 percent of the city’s residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park. By comparison, more than 8 percent of Sacramento’s population live in close proximity to a park.

Charlotte also did not fare well in park spending. Survey organizers found the average spending on parks per resident was $77.33 in Charlotte. That compares to $156.67 in Sacramento. And Charlotte’s 1.3 playgrounds per 10,000 residents compared poorly to Sacramento’s 4.0.

Charlotte’s parks

Park size: Charlotte got 20 of a possible 20 points.

Services: 10 of a possible 40.

Park land, compared to city size: 4 of 20.

Spending per resident: 8 of 20.

Playgrounds per 10,000 residents: 2 of 20.

Access (parks within a 10-minute walk): 2 of 40.

Oldest park: Independence (1905).

Largest park: Reedy Creek Park and Nature Preserve (853 acres).

Most visited park: Freedom Park.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107
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