Milwaukee recently placed 17th out of 100 in the 2018 Trust for Public Land Parkscore rankings.
The study scores the 100 largest cities in the US based on criteria including the percentage of residents with easy access to parks, the city’s median park size and the number of amenities such as splash pads, restrooms, and dog parks.
Milwaukee’s ranking is based on park amenities within the Milwaukee city boundaries, which includes land and facilities managed by Milwaukee County Parks, City of Milwaukee parks, Milwaukee Recreation and the Wisconsin DNR.
Milwaukee placed 27th in 2016 and 21st in 2017. The improvement in ranking this year is partially attributed to a higher than average access to parks – 90% of the city’s youth, for instance, is within a 10-minute walk to a park, compared to the national average of 55%.
Increases in park investments through capital projects, such as the South Shore Park green infrastructure project, also contributed to the ranking improvement. Park spending per resident was $131.27 per resident, up from $115 the previous year.
For the first time, the value of volunteer hours was also taken into account to calculate the investment in parks figures. Milwaukee volunteers contributed $5.1m in work hours in 2017.
In late 2016 Milwaukee County Parks added a full-time Community Engagement & Volunteer Services Coordinator to help boost that contribution. The position has led to several new park friends groups forming and has created a series of Friends Group workshops to help develop skills for volunteers.
Milwaukee’s ParkScore page also lists Veteran’s Park as the city’s most visited park, Cathedral Square Park as the oldest park and Brown Deer Park as its largest.