Government

Cedar Rapids scores well for access to parks but not land devoted to parks

City says study didn't count municipal golf courses, Hughes Park

Wendy Greene of Cedar Rapids plays volleyball with her 10-year-old son Max on Thursday at a Back to Summer Party! to celebrate the end of the school year at Redmond Park in Cedar Rapids. A new analysis by the Trust for Public Land rates cities on the amount of space devoted to parkland and people’s access to them.  (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Wendy Greene of Cedar Rapids plays volleyball with her 10-year-old son Max on Thursday at a Back to Summer Party! to celebrate the end of the school year at Redmond Park in Cedar Rapids. A new analysis by the Trust for Public Land rates cities on the amount of space devoted to parkland and people’s access to them. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids scores well in access to parks, but poorly in space devoted to parkland, according to a new analysis of municipal land.

The Trust for Public Land, which is based in San Francisco, Calif., developed “Park Scores” for the largest communities based on a “comprehensive evaluation of park access and quality” and provided data about park access for additional communities as part of its “10-minute walk” campaign.

Cedar Rapids falls below the population threshold to receive a score, but data provides some context for parks here and other communities.

Among the highlights, 68 percent of Cedar Rapidians live within a 10-minute walk of a park, which is above the national average of 54 percent, while 6 percent of city land is used for parks and recreation, which is below the national average of 15 percent.

Cedar Rapids has 95 parks, according to the Trust.

The city website identifies 4,171 acres of city-owned property, which includes 96 “areas formally named” and hundreds of acres held in reserve as undeveloped green space for future park expansion and flood control.

Cedar Rapids officials agree with the importance of access to parks but noted discrepancies in the data, such as the exclusion of Hughes Park and of municipal golf courses, which are used for recreation year-round.

“We always appreciate receiving data that helps us to evaluate our park system,” Cedar Rapids Parks and Recreation Director Scott Hock said in an email Thursday. “We are currently in the process of doing our own internal review since it has been 10 years since our ... analysis that looked at walkability and gaps in service.”

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Among demographic data, 69 percent each of low- and middle-income Cedar Rapids residents are within a 10-minute walk to a park, compared to 65 percent of high-income earners.

Based on age, 68 percent of those aged 20 to 64 are within a 10-minute walk, compared to 67 percent each of children age 0 to 19 and seniors age 65 plus.

Based on race and ethnicity, American Indians and black residents are most likely to live close to a park, at 73.5 percent, while white residents and Asians were least likely, at 66.7 percent.

Scores in other Corridor communities include:

• 83 percent of Iowa City residents live within 10 minutes of a park, and 9 percent of the city’s land is used for parks and recreation.

• 53 percent of Marion residents live within 10 minutes of a park and 4 percent of the city’s land is used for parks and recreation.

• 67 percent of Hiawatha residents live within 10 minutes of a park and 3 percent of the city’s land is used for parks and recreation.

• 48 percent of Coralville residents live within 10 minutes of a park and 3 percent of the city’s land is used for parks and recreation.

• 77 percent of North Liberty residents live within 10 minutes of a park and 5 percent of the city’s land is used for parks and recreation.

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The Trust for Public Land campaign is calling on mayors “to demonstrate their commitment to parks and adopt long-term, systemwide strategies to ensure every resident has a great park close to home.”

North Liberty Mayor Terry Donahue and Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie are the only two Iowa mayors to sign the pledge thus far, according to the Trust website.

“I have endorsed the vision that everyone deserves a park or open space within a 10-minute walk of home,” Donahue said, according to the website.

Des Moines was the only city in Iowa to receive a “Park Score,” ranking No. 39 nationally. Washington, D.C., ranked No. 1, followed by St. Paul, Minn., Minneapolis, Arlington, Va., and Portland, Ore.

More information can be found at TPL.org/parkscore.

• Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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