As shelter-in-place continues, parks are one outlet for residents to stretch their legs and clear their heads. For the ninth year in a row, however, Fresno’s acreage and investment in parks ranks near the bottom compared to the largest 100 cities in the nation.
Last year, Fresno’s ParkScore was 92. This year its ranking didn’t budge. The ranking, calculated by the Trust for Public Land, assesses a city’s investment, total acreage, and amenities in parks, along with the percentage of residents who can easily access greenspace by living within a 10-minute walk to a park.
Guillermo Rodriguez is the California State Director with the Trust for Public Land. He said one metric for improvement in Fresno is investment.
“Fresno, for example, spends $41.61 per capita on parks, compared to Bakersfield, for example, you know, a city not too far away. Bakersfield spends $86.22 per capita,” said Rodriguez.
Bakersfield’s score didn’t change this year either, but it ranked better than Fresno at 63. Rodriguez said leveraging state and private funds and recruiting volunteers to assist with maintenance are one way the cities can increase their overall score. But he acknowledged that the fallout from the pandemic, both economically and socially, makes these goals harder to achieve.
“It’s going to be a tight budget year,” said Rodriguez. “But if communities can rally around parks, be able to help park managers, and really embed public health and parks in the same conversation,” change can happen, he said.
Right now, Fresno and Bakersfield parks remain open, but amenities like bathrooms and playgrounds are closed. In Fresno, parking lot access to parks is still closed as well.