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Cincinnati drops two spots in national park survey

 people by a pond
Courtesy of Cincinnati Parks

Cincinnati, which has been in the top 10 of the survey's rankings for several years, moved down to 6th this year after climbing to 4th in 2022.

The Trust for Public Land's annual ParkScore Index ranks park systems in the nation's 100 largest cities.

Cincinnati Parks earned a score of 76.9out of 100 points, based on an average of five categories. They include access, acreage, investment, amenities and equity.

The parks department scored well in amenities (94) and access (82). It scored lowest in acreage at 59 points.

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According to the report, "88% of city residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, above the national ParkScore city average of 76 percent. However, Cincinnati's ParkScore ranking fell slightly in 2023 because of declining park investment. Cincinnati spent $181 per person this year on its park system, compared to $183 last year. The national ParkScore city average for park investment this year was $108, up from $98 in 2022."

In a statement, Cincinnati Recreation Commission Director Daniel Betts says, "Together, Cincinnati Recreation Commission and Cincinnati Parks play a critical role in contributing to a healthy lifestyle through enhancements to the physical, social, and mental health aspects of our communities."

Mayor Aftab Pureval says he's grateful for the parks and CRC staffs, and adds, "there is always room for improvement, and together we will continue to support making our green spaces even better."

The top 10

Washington, D.C., retained the top slot in this year's rankings, narrowly beating out perennial high-scorer, St. Paul, Minn.

Here are the top 10 cities and their ParkScore rating:

1. Washington, D.C. — 84.9

2. St. Paul, MN — 80.8

3. Minneapolis, MN — 80.4

4. Irvine, CA — 80.0

5. Arlington, VA — 78.9

6. Cincinnati, OH — 76.9

7. San Francisco, CA — 76.4

8. Seattle, WA — 74.7

9. Portland, OR — 73.7

10. New York, NY — 72.7

10. Boston, MA — 72.7

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Around Ohio, Cleveland (No. 26) earned a ParkScore of 60.5; Toledo (No. 40; 54.9 points); and Columbus (No. 56; 49.6 points).

How the rankings work

  • Park equity compares per capita park space in neighborhoods of color vs. white neighborhoods and in low-income neighborhoods vs. high-income neighborhoods. It also compares 10-minute-walk park access for people of color and lower-income residents. Park systems score higher if disparities are low or non-existent;
  • Park access measures the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park;
  • Park acreage is based on a city's median park size and the percentage of city area dedicated to parks;
  • Park investment measures park spending per resident; and
  • Park amenities assesses the availability of six popular park features: basketball hoops, off-leash dog parks, playgrounds, splash pads and other water play structures, recreation and senior centers and restrooms.
Updated: May 24, 2023 at 4:23 PM EDT
Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.