There are many perks to living near a park, and a new study aims to determine whether Columbus-area residents are able to experience them.
The Recreation and Parks Department is examining its park system in hopes of developing a master plan for the next 10 years. It’s a plan that could lead to more parks within walking distance of more residents.
Department Director Alan McKnight told the Columbus Dispatch that researchers will solicit opinions from Columbus residents, and hire a consultant to help identify the strengths and weaknesses of its current operations and properties.
A report this week from the Non-profit organization Trust for Public Land ranked Columbus 37th among the nation’s 50 largest cities in its annual ParkScore index.
A city’s ParkScore takes into account such data as median park size, spending on parks per resident, and access to parks, which was broken down by age and income. The report found that inner city and downtown residents have good access to parks, but that parks are fewer farther from the heart of the city.
But improvements are on the way according to Pam Carson, the director of the Ohio office of the Trust for Public Land. The Columbus City Council set the Recreation and Parks budget at almost $44 million this year, an increase of more than $8.6 million since 2010. About $900,000 is set aside to create parks and renovate existing ones.
The city’s plans should boost its ParkScore ranking in the coming years, especially because Columbus’ existing parks are high-quality, Carson told The Dispatch. The city “should be really proud of its parks,” she said.