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Pittsburgh's Park System Ranks 23rd In the Country, Up 16 Spots From Last Year

Margaret Sun
90.5 WESA
The entrance to Frick Park on Friday, July 7, 2017.

The nonprofit Trust for Public Land recently released its annual ranking of 100 city park systems in the country. This year, Pittsburgh's ranks 23rd -- a 16 place jump from last year.

The rankings are based on four primary factors: park access, meaning the amount of residents living within a ten-minute walk of a park; park acreage, the median size of city parks and total city area designated to parks; park amenities, such as restrooms, water features and dog parks; and park investment, meaning the amount of spending per resident on parks.

Pittsburgh surged this year based on amenities and investment, according to Ali Hiple, Program Coordinator at the Trust's Center for City Park Excellence. 

"[Pittsburgh] has got 8.4 splashpads per 100,000 residents," she said. "So that's a lot and that's really great, especially as we're seeing increasingly hotter summers."

Nationally, most cities have about one water feature per 100,000 residents. Pittsburgh is also ahead of the curve when it comes to restrooms in parks, offereing 4.3 per 10,000 residents, compared to the average of 2.4.

One of the largest differences between this year and last was the amount of spending on parks per resident, through taxes and donations. This number went from $69 to $100 over the course of a year. In part, this is due to the trust inclduing figures from private nonprofits such as the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

But Hiple said Pittsburgh could still do better when it comes to investment.

"One hundred dollars per resident is much lower than a lot of our other cities, so it's kind of in the middle of the pack," she said. "There's always a need for maintenance and operating dollars being put towards the parks."

Hiple said some city decisions helped boost Pittsburgh's rank. In November, the Urban Redevelopment Authority voted to transfer 555 acres of Hays Wood land to the city to make it a park.