May 22, 2024 - News

Minneapolis ousts St. Paul from No. 2 spot in best parks ranking

Yoga at Boom Island Park in Minneapolis. Photo: David Joles/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Minneapolis has overtaken St. Paul to reclaim the No. 2 spot in a new national ranking of public park systems.

The big picture: High marks for access, acreage, and spending regularly land both cities near the top of the nonprofit Trust for Public Land's annual ParkScore index.

  • Washington, D.C., took home the top honor again this year.

Driving the rank reversal: Improvements aimed at giving more residents access to parks and related amenities fueled Minneapolis' climb from the No. 3 to the No. 2 spot this year, the nonprofit says.

Zoom in: Upgrades to bathrooms, work on the new Upper Harbor park along the North Minneapolis riverfront, and the addition of two dog parks that the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board absorbed from a nonprofit were all factors in the ranking.

Yes, but: St. Paul park lovers shouldn't feel too bad about getting bumped to the No. 3 spot: The cities remain neck-and-neck in the nonprofit's index.

What they're saying: "Minneapolis and St. Paul are some of the premier park systems with incredible access and amenities," Trust for Public Land Minnesota state director Sophie Vorhoff told Axios. "They're just really pushing the envelope in how we manage and build and care for our [parks]."

Case in point: 99% of Minneapolis and St. Paul residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, the report says.

  • That's well above the national average of 76%.

Between the lines: For much of the 2010s, Minneapolis topped the list as the nation's best park system.

What we're hearing: Vorhoff said while the city has done "great work" to improve access, there's more to be done.

  • "That's really the work, to make sure that communities of color, that lower-income communities have access to the same scale and quality of parks," she said.
  • A Minneapolis Park Board spokesperson said an increase in residents living within 10 minutes of a park "reflects our agency's commitment to purchasing green space to improve park equity across Minneapolis, especially in areas with a higher BPOC and lower wealth populations that have traditionally been underserved."

What we're watching: Some of the revenue from St. Paul's voter-approved sales tax hike is earmarked for park improvements.

  • Those upgrades could push the city back to No. 2 — or even first place — next year.
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