Number of City Park Acres Per 1,000 Population
This performance measure serves as an indicator of the City of Austin’s ability to acquire additional parkland in an effort to keep up with the growing population rate and provides a relationship between the population and available parkland.
This measure is calculated by dividing the total number of City of Austin park acres by the city population and multiplying the factor by one thousand. The total acreage data is provided annually by the Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) Senior Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Analyst, who prepares a monthly inventory of park assets based on GIS analysis and mapping.
FY 2015-16 Results
For FY 2015-16, the goal for this measure was established at 20.67 acres per 1,000 residents. The result was 21.84 acres per 1,000 residents, which was 1.1% above the goal.
Assessment of Results
The ratio of park acres to 1,000 population is a national benchmark. The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) recommends a ratio of 10 acres as a standard for this measure for cities the size of Austin. PARD excels with a high ratio of acres of parkland per 1,000 compared to national benchmarks. However, the overall acreage ratio of parkland versus population for the last five years has gradually decreased. This can be attributed to 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, while the City acquired approximately 30 acres of new parkland. Parks Planning and Development revised the target in FY 2015-16 to adjust for this trend in population, setting a target to provide approximately 21 acres of parkland for every 1,000 citizens of Austin; however, the Department aims to have a long range goal of 23.5 acres per 1,000 population.
The Planning and Development Division closed on a significant piece of parkland in November 2016 roughly 40 acres located in Northeast Austin and will have a full year of revised parkland dedication fees to draw upon for parkland acquisition. PARD generally acquires land using four funding sources: General Obligation (GO) Bonds, parkland dedication, grants, and donations. GO Bonds form the largest portion of funding for the acquisition portfolio.
A creative acquisition process is needed to maximize acquisitions. In FY 2016-17, the acquisition process will include a focus on greenway acquisitions, partnerships with the Austin Independent School District for targeted infill park opportunities, and collaborative work with the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Planning Division and other City agencies to develop additional land acquisition opportunities.
For more information contact Ricardo Soliz, Planning and Design Division Manager, at (512) 974-9452.