Tulsa 44th on National City Park Ratings List

May 21, 2015

Kendall-Whittier Park is located behind Kendall-Whittier Elementary School at Fifth Place and Birmingham Avenue.
Credit KWGS News

Despite falling from 40th to 44th in a national park system rating, Tulsa gains ground.

Peter Harnik is director of the Center for City Park Excellence with the Trust for Public Land. He said they rated 15 more cities this year: the largest 75 in the U.S. instead of the largest 60.

"Ten cities came in ahead of Tulsa, and the city only lost four spots," Harnik said. "If we hadn't added any new cities, Tulsa would be No. 35 this year."

Tulsa earned 2.5 park benches on a 5 park bench scale. The ratings take into account park access, park size, and facilities and investment.

Tulsa's average park size is near the top. Harnik said Tulsa needs more park land.

"If at all possible, the new parks that are created should be created in parts of the city that are, right now, 'park poor': where people have too far to walk and would have to drive to the parks or, you know, get a ride or something," he said.

Tulsa's park board has identified east Tulsa as a "park poor" area. The city is working on a deal with Tulsa Public Schools to acquire more park land in east Tulsa.

Harnik said Tulsa is moving in the right direction.

"The city got some additional park land that we weren't aware of last year, so that's a good step in the right direction," Harnik said. "The access improved. Instead of 54 percent of all Tulsans being able to walk to a park easily, it's now 56 percent."

Oklahoma City ranked 70th with 1.5 park benches, while Minneapolis; St. Paul, Minn.; and Washington, D.C., all got 5 park benches.