New this year were criteria to measure how equitable park land was for people of color and those with lower incomes. Washington DC moved into first place with high marks on park equity, defending champion Minneapolis came in third place and Saint Paul stayed in second place.
“The bar was raised this year, and rightly so, to not just measure park amenities and general accessibility, but also if there is equitable access for all,” said County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti. “I’m proud that Arlington parks are still rated among the nation’s best—and glad that we have new information as to where we can improve so that all Arlingtonians have equitable access to great public spaces. We have work to do and I look forward to doing it.”
Arlington earned top marks for its park investment, with perfect scores for dog parks, basketball hoops and per capita spending. What’s more, 99 percent of all Arlington residents, regardless of race or income, are within a 10-minute walk to a park.
In Arlington, neighborhoods of color have 34 percent less park space than white neighborhoods, and low-income neighborhoods have 34 percent less than high-income neighborhoods. The County is focused on several initiatives to address disparities in outcomes and foster equity in all areas.
The County is committed to advancing equity, with a vision of an equitable Arlington where all are valued, educated, healthy and safe regardless of race. When developing programs and services, County staff ask:
- Who benefits?
- Who is burdened?
- Who is missing?
- How do we know
- What do/did we do?
With this lens the County hopes to eliminate, reduce and prevent disparities in policies, procedures, practices, engagement and interaction with and service to the community, including in our park system.
“I’m proud of what we’ve achieved,” said Parks and Recreation Director Jane Rudolph. “We have a fantastic group of staff in our department who care deeply about the work we do for our community. Our community as well supports the work we do, providing valuable feedback and input along the way. I’m pleased that our ParkScore ranking continues to reflect our great work.”
ParkScore rankings are based equally on five factors:
- Park Access (99 percent of Arlington residents can walk to a park in 10 minutes or less: far exceeding the national average of 75 percent)
- Park Acreage (11% percent of Arlington is reserved for parks)
- Park Investment (Arlington spends $347.72 per resident on parks)
- Park Amenities (which counts the availability of six popular park features: basketball hoops, off-leash dog parks, playgrounds, spraygrounds and other water play structures, recreation and senior centers, and restrooms)
- Park Equity (park access and park amenities for people of color and low-income households).