A new park system ranking puts Dallas and Fort Worth in the middle of the pack compared to other major cities. Dallas has more than average park space. The challenge is getting there.
The Katy Trail is a popular route for joggers, cyclists and rollerbladers. This trail winds through Dallas for 3.5 miles, but there are plans to connect it with other areas. Jogger Eric Parssinen thinks that’s great.
"Yeah, I have noticed improvements, like the Katy Trail, that’s great and their plans to hook it up with White Rock Lake," Parssinen said. "So I think they’re heading in the right direction."
The latest park system survey is The Trust for Public Land Park Score, which ranks Dallas 21st of 40 cities.
Dallas ranks well above average when it comes to park acreage, boasting a median of more than seven acres compared to less than six acres nationally.
But Dallas fares worse than average in the accessibility category. Just 54 percent of the population lives within a 10 minute walk of a local park. Nationally, that number is 62 percent.
"It’s unfortunate, because I think we have the ability to do better than this," jogger Karim Abuhamad said.
Abuhamad would love to see more green space, trail space and bike lanes. And he’s confident Dallas has the means to expand its park and trail system.
"We have the area to expand into and we have the money, so we should be able to do that," Abuhamad said,
Paul Dyer, director of the Dallas Parks Department, says a combination of city bond funding and private funding has greatly improved the park system which was typically ranked at the bottom of the list in surveys in the early 2000s.
Dyer says extending the trail system will help parks become much more accessible. The city’s goal is to add 100 miles of trail space in the next 10 years.
That’s something Parssinen hopes will become reality.
"I think we have room to grow. I used to live in Calgary, Alberta and they have a lot of different trails and things for people to work out on. And I think Dallas has a ways to go," Parssinen said.
Dallas and Fort Worth were the second and third highest ranked cities in Texas of the six surveyed. Austin ranked first in the state.