Score One for Cleveland’s Parks

Cleveland’s debut appearance on The Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore® index earned it 25th place among the United States’ 50 largest cities. The group’s ranking of 2.5 out of 5 park benches is pretty respectable when you consider that Cleveland is only the country’s 48th largest city. The ranking also highlights the importance of methodology for any survey or study.“[T]he city is doing a lot of things right when it comes to parks but still has room to grow,” says Pam Carson of The Trust for Public Land (TPL) in a press release announcing the results.

(c)Kathiann M. Kowalski

(c)Kathiann M. Kowalski

While Cleveland beat the national average by a good margin, TPL’s methodology doesn’t provide the whole picture. TPL’s city profile shows that it only considered the actual city limits. Unlike some cities in the group’s survey, Cleveland hasn’t expanded and swallowed up surrounding suburbs. Thus, TPL didn’t include the Cleveland Metroparks. More than 22,000 acres make up that system of parks surrounding the city.

Indeed, the TPL survey seems to leave out even some parks that are clearly within city limits. TPL’s “park facts” shows Rockefeller Park as being the largest park with 130 acres. While that may be the largest city-owned park, other parks within Cleveland are definitely bigger. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has 165 acres. And Cleveland Lakefront State Park has 419 acres.

The next time you see any study or ranking, go behind the numbers. Look at the methodology. Consider what’s included or excluded. Also ask what factors in the ranking could skew results.

And take time to enjoy the parks wherever you live—whether they’re included in a particular organization’s survey or not.

For my part, I’m heading down to the Metroparks for a short hike this afternoon. Where will your adventures take you?

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