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Tulsa Jumps Five Spots in Annual Park Rankings to No. 55

City of Tulsa

After two years at No. 60, Tulsa climbed five places in the Trust for Public Land’s annual ParkScore rankings.

The jump to No. 55 came down to an $18 increase in per capita spending on parks, but that’s largely from what the George Kaiser Family Foundation has spent on and around the Gathering Place.

"And if you didn’t have that private funding, which is the second-highest rate of private spending of any city in America — it beats out cities like New York City and others in terms of the per capita private investments — if you didn’t have that, it wouldn’t be doing quite as well," said Trust for Public Land Director of National Programs Adrian Benepe.

Access is still an area where Tulsa lags other cities in the ParkScore rankings. Benepe said improving that requires more parks, but that doesn’t necessarily mean spending a lot more money.

"The first thing a city needs to do is look at all of its assets and find out what land do we already own so there aren’t land acquisition costs, or what assets do we already own, like schools or other public assets that can be fully open to the public," Benepe said.

Benepe says some cities have had success repurposing abandoned rail lines as linear parks or opening schoolyard parks, though that can be tough when schools are run by independent districts.

Tulsa could also improve when it comes to park amenities, though the city continues to get full points for its number of splash pads.

Oklahoma City stayed at 97th in the rankings, while Minneapolis claimed the top spot.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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