KC Parks Noted as an Emerging Leader in Increasing Equity
The City of Kansas City, Missouri Parks and Recreation Department ranked 20th out of 100 top cities in a Trust for Public Land Report released earlier this month. KC Parks is noted as an emerging leader in increasing equity. For the first time this year, equity was added as a category. KC Parks scored 81/100 on equity.
According to the report, access to parks differs sharply according to race and income, as parks serving primarily Black, Latino, Indigenous and Native American, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other communities of color are half the size and serve five times more people per acre than parks in primarily white neighborhoods. Additionally, in many cities, low-income residents may lack access to parks. The addition of the Equity category is intended to summarize how well a city is distributing its park space between historically low- and high- resourced neighborhoods, regardless of its overall park acreage or access.
KC Parks Interim Director Roosevelt Lyons says, “while this is great news, we know that we have more work to do to ensure every park within our system is high quality, that is the focus of our QLID.”
KC Parks Board Commissioner Dave Mecklenburg adds, “we could not have done this without the support of all Kansas City residents. We call on everyone to find a way to get involved so we can keep this momentum going.”
Some noted facts from the report:
- KC Parks has seen a significant increase from 32nd to 20th with the addition of an “Equity” scoring criteria
- Every year The Trust for Public Land scores the top 100 large urban parks departments
- The Trust for Public Land ParkScore is determined by an agency’s performance in key areas: Acreage, Access, Investment, Amenities and now, Equity.
- Parks are an essential part of improving public health, protecting under-resourced communities from the impacts of the climate crisis, and building strong community cohesion.
- The QLID (Quality of Life Investment District) is KC Parks fourth park maintenance district that focusses on 38 parks within the lowest life expectancy zip codes. The QLID is a one-stop shop that includes forestry, park maintenance, building maintenance, and landscape staff to tackle all of a park’s needs. To date, the QLID Team has replaced all picnic tables, grills, tennis court nets, repaired basketball courts and swings, increased mowing cycles on some boulevards and parkways, and will replace nine playgrounds over the next two years.
- The top 5 cities in the Trust for Public Land Report are: 1st-Washington D.C., 2nd–St. Paul, MN, 3rd–Minneapolis MN, 4th–Arlington, VA, 5th -Chicago, IL
- The Urban Land Institute also released a report, The Five Characteristics of High Quality Parks and analyzes data from the 2019-2020 fiscal year. This report presents five characteristics of high-quality parks, demonstrates how evaluations of park quality can be used to facilitate equitable investments, and features five U.S. cities On pages 42-43 of the report, KC Parks is recognized for working to address a history of inequitable land use practices by renewing its approach to community engagement, reaching more residents and gaining an deeper understanding of their needs and interests. KC Park programs like Park Ambassadors, QLID, World Café, S.H.A.P.E., Neighborhood Connect are cited as examples of providing positive and relevant experiences to park users and KC Community. It also acknowledges the S.H.A.P.E. (Safe, Healthy, Attractive, Public Environments) inspection program, and QLID (Quality of Life Investment District).