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Cleveland drops in annual ParkScore rating despite series of improvements | Cleveland

click to enlarge Michael Zone Rec Center, where the city's 15-year park plan was presented to the public last week.  -Mark Oprea

Mark Oprea

Michael Zone Rec Center, where the city’s 15-year park plan was presented to the public last week.

Last week, Mayor Justin Bibb and his team from the Mayor’s Office of Capital Projects kicked off a daylong tour of the city, debuting Cleveland’s first master plan for its park system, with future plans to improve green spaces and amenities that have long suffered from poor maintenance and lack of new investments.

Despite the future optimism of a 15-year makeover, less significant news also came this week: The Trust For Public Land released its annual ParkScore ratings update, and Cleveland’s system dropped from 26th to 31st.

Or, as a TPL press release suggested, a “decline” largely due to a national increase in spending on city and regional parks. (See: American Rescue Plan Act dollars are coming.) U.S. cities as a whole spent $16 more per capita on pools and playgrounds than in 2022.

“The city’s slight decline in the rankings was primarily due,” a TPL statement said, “to positive steps taken by other cities, and not to changes in the local park system.”

Regardless of that rising tide, Cleveland’s ParkScore score was high, as was its availability and access to Clevelanders on both sides of the Cuyahoga: 81% of residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park. (And 85% of black Clevelanders.) The national average? Only 76%.

TPL also said the city’s system was damaged because of its size: Cleveland’s average park covers about four acres; the national ParkScore median is about five and a half.

As last week’s master plan also showed, both MOCAP’s planning team and their consultants in Philadelphia have a unique opportunity to bring Cleveland’s green spaces and hard courts up to 21st century demand. Swimming pools are underused and barely open; dog parks and tennis courts are hard to find; football goalposts are rusted and have no nets.

But unfortunately, we are ranked second nationally for our splash pads (yay) and “other water features.” (Fountains? Showers?)

OLIN, the Philadelphia-based planning firm hired to help the mayor’s office craft that 15-year plan, told Scene that the third and final phase of the study will propose feasible ways to pay for it.

Both OLIN and Jay Rauschenbach, the parks planner at MOCAP, suggested that the tens of millions needed for a citywide park makeover could use a mix of state and federal funds, along with a tax levy, á la how the Metro Parks get a large portion receive from the income. financing.

That final phase report should be released to the public this summer.

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