Columbus Loses Points For Quality Of Public Parks

May 24, 2018

Columbus may be one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, but its public parks aren't garnering the same acclaim.

Columbus ranked 62nd out of the 100 largest cities in the country for its parks, according to the most recent ParkScore Index released this week. That's several spots worse than in 2017, when Columbus ranked 56th.

The ParkScore, put out annually by the Trust For Public Land, rates cities on factors like investment in parks, accessibility, amenities, and acreage. Out of a possible 100 points, Columbus scored a mere 43.6.

That’s pretty poor compared to its fellow Ohio cities. Cincinnati rose in the rankings this year, claiming the 7th best park system in the country and a ParkScore of 78.2. Cleveland had the 37th best park system with a score of 57.6.

Only Toledo ranked lower than Columbus among Ohio cities.

So what’s so bad about Columbus parks? The city has very little parkland to begin with – only about 9 percent of the area is dedicated to parks.

Big chunks of the city can’t access parks. Only about 52 percent of the population can get to a park within a 10-minute walk. In Minneapolis, which ranks as the top park system for the third year in a row, 97 percent of residents live within a 10-minute walk.

As for what’s in those parks, Columbus ranks low in categories such as basketball hoops per capita, dog parks per capita, playgrounds per capita, restrooms per capita, and rec centers per capita.

Some of that may come back to money: the city of Columbus only spends $103 per person on its parks. Cincinnati, in comparison, spends over $200 per person.

According to its website, Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks contain 20 parks, more than 230 miles of trails, and 27,500 acres of land througout Central Ohio.

Here are the top 10 cities for their public parks:

  1. Minneapolis, MN
  2. Saint Paul, MN
  3. Washington, DC
  4. Arlington, VA 
  5. San Francisco, CA
  6. Portland, OR
  7. Cincinnati, OH
  8. Chicago, IL
  9. New York, NY
  10. Irvine, CA

You can read the full report on the ParkScore website.