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Survey: Jacksonville’s Park System Among Worst In US

Jessica Palombo

Jacksonville’s parks are in need of improvement, according to the annual survey by The Trust for Public Land. Jacksonville’s ranked among the 10 worst park systems in the nation.

Jacksonville came in 68th out of 75 cities in the survey.

Abby Martin, research coordinator for The Trust for Public Land, says some factors contributing to its low rankings are lack of resources like basketball hoops and dog parks. But the main factor is access.

Martin said, “Jacksonville has a lot of park land, but it’s not easily accessible for folks when they are just at home.”

She says The Trust for Public Land strongly believes every urban American should live within a half-mile, or a 10 minute, walk from a park.

Jacksonville’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Supervisor Pam Roman says size is a challenge.

“Remember that Jacksonville — and Duval County being one in the same — is the largest city land mass in the nation. So we are in a little bit of a different situation, I think, than most cities are in as far as relevantly close access to parks are concerned,” said Roman.

Roman says the city appreciates the Trust for Public Land survey, but she doesn’t believe it gives a full picture of Jacksonville’s recent improvements.

“Different communities in Jacksonville want different things,” said Roman, “and we are working really hard to try to accommodate those community needs as best we can.”

Roman says the city will continue expanding its trails and water-recreation areas. And it’s getting help from new partners, like the National Park Service and GroundWork Jax, which will help develop and maintain the parks.

Erica Protsman is a student at the University of North Florida. In December of 2015, Erica will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Communication, with a focus in Multimedia Journalism and a minor in Spanish. She is the Vice President of ESPN3 at the University of North Florida, where she coordinates team meetings and events for students in the club. Erica currently is an intern here at WJCT and plans to be a news reporter upon graduation.