City of Austin Performance Report 2015-16

ParkScore Ranking: Park Quality Rating Out of 100

Measure Description
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) evaluates park systems owned by regional, state and federal agencies within 100 of the most populous U.S. cities.  The analysis is based on three important characteristics of an effective park system including acreage, facilities and investment, and access. 
Calculation Method
TPL provides a rating of up to 100 for each park system. To determine a city’s ParkScore, points are assigned in three major categories including acreage, facilities and investment, and access.
 Acreage is worth 40 points, 20 points for median park size and 20 points for park acres as a percentage of the city area. Median park size is calculated using park inventories acquired from park owning agencies within each city. Park acres as a percentage of adjusted city area is calculated using data collected in an annual survey conducted by the Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence.
Facilities and investments are worth a total of 40 points. The points are awarded based on two equally weighted measures—total spending per resident (20 points) and the average of four key park amenities per-capita (20 points).  The four key amenities include: basketball hoops per 10,000 residents, dog parks per 100,000 residents, playgrounds per 10,000 residents, and recreation/senior centers per 20,000 residents.
 Access is worth a total of 40 points.  Access is calculated as the percentage of the population living within a ten-minute walk of a public park. Each city’s total points out of a maximum of 120 are then normalized to a ParkScore of up to 100.
FY 2015-16 Results
Austin’s 2016 Trust for Public Land ParkScore was 54, four points below the established FY 2015-16 goal of 58 points. Austin ranks 47 out of 100 of the most populous cities in the nation. As a quick reference, each city is given a rating of one to five park benches. The City of Austin received a score of three park benches.
Assessment of Results
Austin’s overall combined ParkScore was 54 out of a maximum of 100 points, a score of three park benches out of a maximum of five park benches, and an overall ranking of 47 out of 100 of U.S largest cities. Austin’s park system score decreased by 3.5 points compared to the previous year and the City’s overall ranking dropped from 31st to 47th of the 100 cities that participated in the study.
For acreage, Austin received 35 out of the 40 points.  Compared to last year, facilities and investment total spending per resident saw an increase from 9 points in FY 2014-15 to 10 points in FY 2015-16.  However, in the four key amenities, there was a decrease of one point from 9 to 8 out of a possible 20 points compared to last year.  Access decreased from 16 points in FY 2014-15 to 12 points in FY 2015-16 out of a possible 20.  Acreage and access are directly impacted by the rate of population growth in Austin exceeding the rate of parkland acquisition.  In FY 2015-16, Austin’s population increased by over 12,500 residents, whereas the City of Austin was able to acquire 30 acres of parkland.
Next Steps
The Austin Parks and Recreation Department will work diligently to better score in the areas of acreage, facilities and investment, and access. An example of this commitment can be found in the Parks and Recreation Strategic Plan, 2017-2021. Goal IV in the plan, states that PARD will Achieve and Maintain a Standard of Excellence for Park Systems.  The Strategic Plan contains the following action strategy: Identify and Implement a Strategy to Improve the ParkScore Rating Issued by the Trust for Public Land.  The two action strategies outlined to attain this goal are:  Create internal workgroup to develop a phased plan with recommendations for improving the TPL ParkScore rating and implement strategies to improve the annual TPL ParkScore rating.  The tasks associated with this action strategy will be implemented over the next two fiscal years.
Contact Information
For more information contact Kirk Scanlon, Business Process Consultant, Sr. at (512) 974-6795.