The Atlanta park system ranks below average, according to a new study by the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit that conserves land for parks and playgrounds in urban and rural areas.
Atlanta ranked No. 26 out of 40 cities, behind places like Boston and Portland, Ore. However, it beat out cities like Memphis and Louisville, according to a report by the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
While some of our parks in Southwest Atlanta are certainly beautiful, fairly the study did not directly assess the quality of the parks themselves. The land trust’s “Park-Score” ratings, released last week, were based on the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park (about half a mile), a city’s median park size and the percentage of total city area dedicated to parks and investment in parks. A map provided by the city shows large tracts of northwest and southwest Atlanta to be what planners call “park-poor.”
Digital mapping technology was used to make the determination.
Easy Access to Parks the Main Issue
With 63 percent of its residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park, Atlanta’s park access ranked just above the national average of 62 percent, according to the study. But only 5.6 percent of Atlanta’s acreage is devoted to parkland, compared to a national average of just over 10 percent.
“We are in less than great shape for a city of our size in terms of parks per capita,” said Mary Dodson, who helped establish the Chastain Park Conservancy. “It is a problem. Those of us who are involved in parks and are passionate about parks, we know there is an economic benefit to parks. But its kind of hard to make that argument when people don’t have jobs.”
Atlanta earned two “park benches” in the scoring, out of a possible top score of five benches. A map provided by the city shows large tracts of northwest and southwest Atlanta to be what planners call “park-poor.” The Buckhead Collection green-space intiative has already made an effort in the last year to add more green space, plazas and trails to Buckhead's woefully underserved central district.
Mayor Reed's New Goal
Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration touts a goal to add 1,300 acres of green space on the Beltline, a 22-mile loop that will encircle the city, by 2030.
“The mayor wants 100 percent of residents to be able to walk to a park,” said George Dusenbury, commissioner of the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs. “We’d be the first city to do that. We know we have work to do.”
How would you like to see this new plan implemented in Buckhead? Let us know in the comments below!