The Trust for Public Land declared Minneapolis and the Twin Cities the nation’s best big city for public parks, followed by New York, Boston and Sacramento, Calif.
Jayne Miller, superintendent for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, said the work the board has done over the years earned the award.
“The city was built around the park system, not the other way around,” she said. “We are unique from the standpoint that the park system was built as an economic driver for the city.”
Recent Minneapolis parks projects include the East Phillips Park Cultural and Community Center and new synthetic turf fields; a new beach, boardwalk playground and picnic area at Theodore Wirth Park; and the Phillips Community Center renovation.
“This is an honor not for the Park Board but for the citizens of Minneapolis because they’re the ones 130 years ago who established an independent park board,” said John Erwin, president of the Park and Recreation Board. “Because they valued parks and understood they greatly enhance lives.”
Minneapolis, the 48th largest city, wasn’t ranked when the last list was created in 2012, but it was included this year when the index was expanded to the 50 most populous cities in America. Although St. Paul, the 66th largest city, was not rated by ParkScore, the Trust for Public Land analysts determined that if the two cities had been evaluated as a single municipality, it still would have ranked at the top of the list. Minneapolis parks and St. Paul parks also made appearances in a similar 2008 ranking of parks.
Minneapolis parks ranked high in several categories, including park access, size, and services and investment. According to the trust, 94 percent of residents live within 10 minutes of a Minneapolis park. There are plans to make the city’s park system larger and even more robust in the future.
Minneapolis’ parks really set the city apart when compared to other cities of comparable size. The parks are Minneapolis neighborhood centers that help to create and strengthen relationships in the community. The tree canopy contributions of the parks also help to mitigate some of the heat island effect. Finally, having parks nearby helps to lift property values.
Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land describes itself as “the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people.”