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Charlotte Parks - the big picture...


Scribe

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Since we have a Charlotte Greenways thread, I figured we should dedicate a thread to parks in general.

So, in 2nd Ward topic @kermit brought up the ParkScore by the Trust for Public Land: http://parkscore.tpl.org/city.php?city=Charlotte

I initially replied there, but this subject should be discussed in depth - and I could not find a thread that was dedicated to Parks overall (not just greenways). In my reply I compare it to Seattle - http://parkscore.tpl.org/city.php?city=Seattle

The CharMeck Parks and Recreation website has details on all existing parks: https://www.mecknc.gov/ParkandRec/Parks/Pages/default.aspx

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Yes, that is a good starting point for discussion.

Problem is it favors more smaller parks and dense cities.

Overall Charlotte is ranked 97th/100 vs.  Seattle which is ranked 11th/100...

For example Charlotte gets 20 (max) vs  Seattle gets 4 on park size.

SIX times the area... but Charlotte has TWICE the park acreage of Seattle... so the stat of within 10 minute walk is always going to be low and couple that with Charlotte having huge nature preserves like Ready Creek and Latta Plantation that are massive and act as attractions for the entire city not just the surrounding neighborhoods this score is not a great representation for Charlotte...

I also gotta say we do well with the little money we spend!

Spending -- nevermind, I need more coffee:

  • Seattle spends 669,850x$279.30 = 187089105.00 that is 187 MILLION dollars
  • Charlotte spends 862,032x$44.80 = 38619033.60 that is 38 MILLION dollars
  • Charlotte spends 1/5th of what Seattle spends but maintains TWICE as much acreage...

59b2d5324ba90_CLT-parkscltstats-seattlecomparison2.PNG.fa360ea0a3d7512f4b109bfdc2f011d7.PNG

Now for Seattle:

59b2d5343fb0f_CLT-parksstats-seattlecomparison.PNG.f369be8883acd53c6567a4b365e77082.PNG

 

As for Charlotte, we are serving everyone pretty equally. Just need more of it.

59b2d407e845a_CLT-parksstats1.PNG.ed101754a99629359d0109660c2bcac7.PNG

 

All in all, what I've learned is that, all of you who are beotching about the reduced size of Marshall park, should instead demand that every acre lost should be opened somewhere else as a separate park in the city so that it brings up our park score and makes @kermit happy ;)

What these stats confirm - yet again - is that the devil is in the details and you can make the details confess anything you want, with enough creativity.

 

 

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Spending some time today visiting friends in Mint Hill, I noticed that their (pre-great recession) neighborhood had a trail system going through the big  neighborhood. (this is in addition to their playground and club house).  That got me thinking that the ParkScore does not account for all the park-like amenities and facilities that our neighborhoods provide - and this is especially true to the neighborhoods that are further away from city center.

In my neighborhood, the club house has a pool and tennis courts, but in another part of the neighborhood we have a half acre park.

None of these are represented in the ParkScore, but they are a benefit to the people that live right there. Many (if not  most) of the neighborhoods with pools/clubhouse also have a play ground somewhere in the neighborhood.

Could that be the reason why Charlotte focuses on - what I call destination parks - Ready Creek, Latta Plantation etc.  In general our parks tend to be bigger compared to other metro areas with the median park size being 16.6 acres... (compare that to 2.4 acres for Seattle)

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On ‎9‎/‎9‎/‎2017 at 8:32 PM, Scribe said:

Spending some time today visiting friends in Mint Hill, I noticed that their (pre-great recession) neighborhood had a trail system going through the big  neighborhood. (this is in addition to their playground and club house).  That got me thinking that the ParkScore does not account for all the park-like amenities and facilities that our neighborhoods provide - and this is especially true to the neighborhoods that are further away from city center.

In my neighborhood, the club house has a pool and tennis courts, but in another part of the neighborhood we have a half acre park.

None of these are represented in the ParkScore, but they are a benefit to the people that live right there. Many (if not  most) of the neighborhoods with pools/clubhouse also have a play ground somewhere in the neighborhood.

Could that be the reason why Charlotte focuses on - what I call destination parks - Ready Creek, Latta Plantation etc.  In general our parks tend to be bigger compared to other metro areas with the median park size being 16.6 acres... (compare that to 2.4 acres for Seattle)

I believe their methodology only includes public parks. In part, it's why I think ParkScore is one of the least useful of the "Scores" out there. I also think parks become a lot less critical/useful in large-lot suburbs, to the point where expecting  a park is practically wasteful. 

Case-in-point, one of ParkScores "high need" areas includes the entire eastern half of Myers Park, including much of Queen's campus, the booty loop, and MP Country Club. I mean, come on. 

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@tozmervo agree on the silliness of Myers Park as "high need". (they do not list the playground and basketball courts at Eastover Elementary - even though I know the neighbors use it all the time after school is out and during summer... )

What are the other park scoring reports/services?  Which one do you think is closest to accurate?

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This is even sloppier than last year.   My comment on their last index follows below. 

They managed to fix the city population (862,032 is at least reasonable).  

But they are still counting total land area for the entire county.  

And now, it looks like they took away 7,300 acres of parks from their calculations.  In 2016, they gave us 21,293, which is close to what Mecklenburg County reports.  This year, it's 13,990.  I assume that the difference is Mecklenburg County run parks outside of the Charlotte city limits.  

So this year, park area as a pct of city area is 4.0%.  Last year, it was 6.4%.   

 
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I looked at this yesterday:  

http://parkscore.tpl.org/city.php?city=Charlotte

It immediately jumped out at me that they have Charlotte Population at 999,426, and land area 332,295 acres.  So they're really talking about Mecklenburg County, right?  

But if you look at their little map, they are generally not counting parks outside Charlotte.  Just Mecklenburg County parks?  Did they not know that the other municipalities own their own parks?  

When you look at the page for Raleigh, you'll see that they do not count Wake County outside of Raleigh. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, teeg said:

This is even sloppier than last year.   My comment on their last index follows below. 

They managed to fix the city population (862,032 is at least reasonable).  

But they are still counting total land area for the entire county.  

And now, it looks like they took away 7,300 acres of parks from their calculations.  In 2016, they gave us 21,293, which is close to what Mecklenburg County reports.  This year, it's 13,990.  I assume that the difference is Mecklenburg County run parks outside of the Charlotte city limits.  

So this year, park area as a pct of city area is 4.0%.  Last year, it was 6.4%. 

Wow, thanks for pointing that out... looks like it's run by amateurs... or worse, it's manipulating the data on purpose!

Is there not a better analysis of large metro parks throughout US?

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I am not aware of anything "better", but then I am not sure what "better" would look like.  These sorts of city ranking schemes are all terrible in their own special ways.  Even if they had not mixed city and county stats both years, I would be no more impressed with the approach.  They are deciding what is important for their system, but why do they get to decide? Counting basketball hoops and dog parks, but not tennis courts and walking trails?  Ignoring unofficial parks (the playground at Eastover Elem, the subdivision common areas)?   There's something magic about living within 10 minute (1/2 mile) walk of an official public park, and that's called 'access'?  This reminds me of that "fittest city" ranking list that used donut shops per capita as a metric. 

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Personally I think investment in the parks the city has would be far better than seeking out new land to build parks onlyto meet some silly criteria.  Similar to the Marshall Park conversation, design and functionality matter.  Romare Bearden wows us all because it's clearly well funded, well kept and incorporates incredible aesthetics.

 

Improved lighting at our parks for safety in the evenings

Improved washroom facilities system wide!

Greenway connectivity

A tear down and rebuild of Discovery Place Nature with vast improvements

Improved signage! 

And so on and so forth.

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7 hours ago, ah59396 said:

Personally I think investment in the parks the city has would be far better than seeking out new land to build parks onlyto meet some silly criteria.  Similar to the Marshall Park conversation, design and functionality matter.  Romare Bearden wows us all because it's clearly well funded, well kept and incorporates incredible aesthetics.

 

Improved lighting at our parks for safety in the evenings

Improved washroom facilities system wide!

Greenway connectivity

A tear down and rebuild of Discovery Place Nature with vast improvements

Improved signage! 

And so on and so forth.

Last I knew, DP Nature was in the middle of fundraising for a major renovation. I haven't really heard where they're at in the process in a while.  http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article44178129.html

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  • 6 months later...
On 3/30/2018 at 1:13 AM, elrodvt said:

Goes against my personal perception and I think this report is the one I recalled:

https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/best-city-parks-in-us-trust-for-public-land-ranking-2016

I'll move over to the other thread and read up on it. So hard to compare these rankings.

 

@elrodvt on the "Next City" ranking, first it is not much different from Park Score... it is hard to look at anything else when your number one criteria is "how many residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park".

As has been pointed out above in this thread, Charlotte has "destination" parks: Reedy Creek (927 acres), McDowell Nature Preserve (1,132 acres), Latta Plantation (1,460 acres).

Then the median park size in Charlotte is 16.6 acres compared to 2.4 acres in Seattle.

I can see this improving a bit with the greenway system expanding connecting larger parks via a greenway park (eg. McAlpine Creek Park via McAlpine Creek Greenway to James Boyce Park -- or Freedom Park via the Little Sugar Creek Greenway to the rebuilt  Pearl Street Park, or further down toe Alexander Street Park), the existing parks will become more accessible by the surrounding neighborhoods -- but with population density of 2.6 per acre, that is not to be easy or happen overnight...

But lastly, Park Score and the TPL's ranking does not bother taking into account that every neighborhood with any community amenities has a playground, a pool, tennis courts. As mentioned above many have nature trails that and open spaces that are available to every resident. If they were to consider those in their rankings for the just the neighborhoods that they belong to, I bet that score would look way different (probably with Charlotte in the to 25 or so...)

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This is an appe

1 hour ago, Scribe said:

 

Then the median park size in Charlotte is 16.6 acres compared to 2.4 acres in Seattle.

This seems like an apples-oranges comparison.  You're talking about the amount of green space inside the city limits?  You have to keep in mind that just a handful of miles outside the city limits of Seattle are several major state and regional parks.  Also, Seattle is bordered on one side by Lake Washington and on the other side by the Puget Sound.  I've been kayaking in Seattle on the Puget Sound.  That's not literally considered a city park, but functionally it is.

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35 minutes ago, JacksonH said:

This seems like an apples-oranges comparison. 

The original discussion centered around a Seattle comparison so I stuck with it.

35 minutes ago, JacksonH said:

You have to keep in mind that just a handful of miles outside the city limits of Seattle are several major state and regional parks. 

Just a handful of miles outside Charlotte, you have excellent state parks and 2 massive lakes...

  • Crowders Mountain State Park
  • Lake Norman State Park
  • Morrow Mountain State Park (this one is truly underrated)
  • US National Whitewater Center...

This is why these types of rankings are questionable, they focus in on some metric that they call the gold standard and leave out everything that will contradict the data and their desired outcome.

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6 minutes ago, Scribe said:

leave out everything that will contradict the data and their desired outcome.

Just so there is no confusion, what I mean here, specifically, are neighborhood parks, tennis courts, pools, trails and open space DIRECTLY benefit the neighborhood population and are 99% of the time less then 10 minute walk from the furthers home in the development. (this is the coveted holy grail of these rankings) ALL neighborhood parks and amenities are disqualified from the ranking because they are not "public" yet they are benefiting the public that lives nearest to these facilities and in a city being evaluated/ranked in these reports...

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48 minutes ago, Scribe said:

Just so there is no confusion, what I mean here, specifically, are neighborhood parks, tennis courts, pools, trails and open space DIRECTLY benefit the neighborhood population and are 99% of the time less then 10 minute walk from the furthers home in the development. (this is the coveted holy grail of these rankings) ALL neighborhood parks and amenities are disqualified from the ranking because they are not "public" yet they are benefiting the public that lives nearest to these facilities and in a city being evaluated/ranked in these reports...

I looked at the map and my neighborhood's park isn't included on the map, because technically the land is private and maintained by our voluntary HOA. The other neighborhoods in our area of town were all also excluded and they had parks / clubhouses / pools either maintained by a voluntary HOA or mandatory HOA as part of the development. So technically the local residents have park access (in addition to suburban yards), but the park isn't owned by the city/county. With Charlotte having so many new developments and suburban areas within city limits, I would guess we have a good amount of HOA maintained parks as opposed to city maintained parks in our limits. 

Edited by CLT2014
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  • 11 months later...

There are lots of little pockets of green space around, like this one at the corner of Quail Hollow Rd & Gleneagles Rd:

 

https://property.spatialest.com/nc/mecklenburg/#/property/217038

 

It was built in memory of someone, and is for all practical purposes a park. Would be interesting if the Parks Dept could work with people who own land like this to allow them to be 'managed' by the parks department and therefore count as a park.

 

 

Also, things like the rail trail should count as parkland, especially if they have amenities along it.

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41 minutes ago, KJHburg said:

Yes most newer neighborhoods have internal parks especially if they are of any size.  In Charlotte I would say Davis Lake, Highland Creek, Berewick, Palisades, Ballantyne Country Club etc etc.  I can't even name all of them.  They are maintained by HOAs and do act as private greenspace.  

I'm in  Houston today here are some things I saw that Charlotte should do park wise.  Of course this a city of 3 million in a metro of 6.5 million.   

1. We need skateparks for the kids (and adults too) skating in uptown Charlotte is a not an option.  Check out this HUGE skatepark right near downtown and there is an even bigger one in the north suburbs (the largest such in North America)   There was a small one off Eastway but not sure if it is even open.  Houston big companies really deliver donations and we should get some of ours around big ideas. 

2.  a signature pedestrian bridge and I know this has been talked about over Sugar Creek and US 74 near uptown to connect with the existing greenway.  Lets start a fundraising and try to get some grants.    Look at the Rosemont Bridge over a Memorial Parkway  and Buffalo Bayou.    The bridge is almost like a Y.  

On my Texcation and collecting ideas.

 

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I believe you are referring to Grayson Park and yes it is open and in use. And not public but Oso Skate Park on Louise in Belmont is supposed to be really fun. While we seem to be lacking in the skateboard arena there are some cool bike options in the area. There is a dirt bike racing track at Hornet’s Nest Park and in Gaston County there is a really fun pump track at Piston Park and another one in Belmont. And there is a neat bike riding course taught at the bike playground at Arbor Glen. So while not in the Uptown there are some good options around town. 

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2 minutes ago, sakami said:

I believe you are referring to Grayson Park and yes it is open and in use. And not public but Oso Skate Park on Louise in Belmont is supposed to be really fun. While we seem to be lacking in the skateboard arena there are some cool bike options in the area. There is a dirt bike racing track at Hornet’s Nest Park and in Gaston County there is a really fun pump track at Piston Park and another one in Belmont. And there is a neat bike riding course taught at the bike playground at Arbor Glen. So while not in the Uptown there are some good options around town. 

Yes lots of mountain biking trails too  in the city off Camp Stewart Rd is east Mecklenburg and at the Whitewater center.  

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My neighborhood "park" is often misunderstood. The Dilworth School property includes the building and parking but NOT the block wide play area extending to Berkeley Avenue. That is county parkland. During the school day the school has exclusive use. Same as with the new-ish recreation center with the bridge from the school. Use by school during the school day and community thereafter. The parkland issue is the most misunderstood part, not the park building.

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12 hours ago, 11 HouseBZ said:

Shoot, who says it ain't public? If my son wants to play on their playground, we're gonna play on their playground. Act like you belong (wear khakis and boat shoes) and own it. Who's checking ID's? I live near a lot of "public" parks. 

Jk, I don't do this. s\

You may have been kidding but that's actually the sentiment I share. I guess I have a little bit of anarchist in me. Because of I live close to a park, I'm probably going to it regardless of who owns it. I'm not hurting anyone or damaging anything.

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Yeah I was being sarcastic. My sons will be playing on whatever playground they dang well please. It's a freaking park not a museum. Maybe I'm like you and rebellious, but when they build their neighborhood, the park they build is their unintentional way of giving back. They say it's just for residents but yeah, Ima be there too. 

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On 3/8/2019 at 5:02 AM, Brendv7 said:

Not sure I would knock the methodology for not including parks maintained by HOAs.  They aren’t public and doing so would let the city/county off the hook. A healthy city should have park space that all residents can easily access and utilize, not just the suburbanites. 

That is the whole goal of ParkScore to give the govt a way to say look we need more money.

How about we define what is "healthy park score" for a city is, and what are the metrics to measure that!

If it is walking distance to open/green/park space then heck yeah the HOA parks should be counted.

Because if they counted HOA parks, we would make "bigger" cities like Seattle look pathetic.  We already have 6 times the park land of Seattle (and that is "public" city/county owned). Our access score would be comparable to theirs but our cost would be 1/5th that of Seattle.

Quote

“If you torture the data long enough, it will confess.” Ronald H. Coase

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/1249307-if-you-torture-the-data-long-enough-it-will-confess

Also, those "suburbanites" that you are complaining about seem pretty damn content with their HOA park space.

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