- Chris Belcher
San Antonio increases park access
Updated: Jul 9, 2021
The Trust for Public Land recognized San Antonio in May for its increase in the number of residents with a 10-minute or less walk to a park.
San Antonio was number three on the “Fastest Riser” list of cities with an increase in the percentage of citizens within a 10-minute walk to the closest park. The list was published in the 2021 City Park Facts: The Year in Parks.
San Antonio increased the percentage of residents within the 10-minute walking distance by 5% from last year to 48% and 11% over the last three years. Henderson, Nevada and Irvine, California were the only cities with larger increases over the last year than San Antonio.
Decreasing the distance a person is from the closest park improves physical and mental wellbeing. A RAND Study done by Roland Sturm and Deborah Cohen showed the connection between good mental and physical health in those closest to a park versus those a further distance from parks.
San Antonio Parks and Recreation is achieving its results through its goal of having a responsive parks system. There are several objectives that support that goal and increase access to parks.
One objective is taking a creative approach to provide “parks, facilities, trails, and recreation programs that fill gaps in the system and services.” SA Parks System Plan
They’ve achieved this in part by partnering with local school districts to expand use of their recreation areas according to the Department of Government and Public Affair's June 2 article about the recognition by the Trust for Public Land. This is especially important for areas in San Antonio with limited access to existing parks.
Another was conducting in-depth analysis of parks system gaps. This shows areas of the city Parks and Recreation needs to address shortfalls in access.
They’re also adding mobile programs to expand reach. They’ll do this through the schools as well as public or private plazas. This initiative will provide services and exercise equipment throughout underserved areas of the city.
Another objective under the goal of a responsive parks system is equitable access to parks and facilities. The city recognizes with this objective that it can’t just serve its citizens in higher income neighborhoods it also has to serve those in traditionally underserved areas.
They’re expanding access to meet the needs of a growing city through new parks and greenways authorized in the 2017 Bond Program. One of those parks is the Jupe Manor Park. The bond program has authorized a total of $1.2 million to purchase land and build a park for this southeast San Antonio neighborhood.
San Antonio has made great strides in increasing the number of residents who have access to a park or parklike facility within a 10-minute walk. There are still improvements to make for accomplishing the goal San Antonio agreed to as a participant in Trust for Public Land’s nationwide call to action in its 10 Minute Walk Program of 100% 10-minute walk from home by 2050.