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Las Vegas Parks Rank 31st On ParkScore Index

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Rachel Christiansen

Las Vegas is in the middle of the pack when it comes to park rankings among 100 of the nation's largest cities.

The intense heat of Las Vegas summers hasn’t fully arrived yet, and the weather is providing the perfect opportunity to go outside. 

Chances are, you already have your favorite park that you like to go to in the valley. 

Maybe it’s a large, well-known park like Sunset Park, or one off the beaten path that’s more of a neighborhood park.

The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit organization that creates and protects lands for people to enjoy, today released its annual ParkScore Index, rating park systems across the 100 largest cities in the U.S. 

How did Las Vegas fare in that list? Thirty-first, while North Las Vegas debuted on the list for the first time at 35th, and neighboring Henderson at 25th on the top 100 list. 

Peter Harnik is the director of the center for city park excellence at the Trust for Public Lands. 

He said the rankings take into account a lot of different details, including the size of parks, how much money is spent on parks, the facilities they provide and how close people live to parks

Harnik said 70 percent of Las Vegas residents live within a 10 minute walk of a park. He also said the city has a high number of dog parks and playgrounds.

Support comes from

Tim Hacker, the director of the city of Las Vegas Parks and Recreation Department, said there are more dog parks because that is what residents want.

Hacker said they talk to nearby residents to find out what they want in their parks. So, if residents want more dog parks and fewer basketball courts, that's what will be installed.

He also said they make decisions about parks based on how they fit into the city. 

"When we look at parks and facilities, we look at them as how do they add to that iconic nature (of the city)," Hacker said. "So quantity might be something we struggle with, but quality is something we focus on."

Hacker said a recent survey found 83 percent of people held the city parks in a high regard.

"So we know when it comes to what we're providing and how we're maintaining that we are, I think, hitting the mark," he said.

During Southern Nevada's boom years, money from the sale of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management was diverted to pay for parks and trails in Southern Nevada under the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act or SNPLMA.  

"The SNPLMA dollars were used for some major capital investments," Hacker said, "Those are one time monies ... Maybe that's something in the future the trust needs to think about carving out is: what is capital investments versus maintenance." 

Harnik said many cities are increasing spending on parks as more young people and empty nesters choose to live in smaller homes and apartments in urban areas.

Hacker said going forward the city is looking to target the 30 percent of residents who are not within walking distance of a park. He said his department is concerned about walkability and about the "pockets that need infill."   

Some of the newest parks that are being opened are the Las Vegas Wash Park and the Mayfair Park, which will bring more soccer fields, play areas, basketball courts, splash pad and trails to the valley.  

RESOURCES:

Clark County Parks and Recreation

City of Las Vegas Parks and Recreation

City of North Las Vegas Parks and Recreation

City of Henderson Parks and Recreation 

 

Guests

Tim Hacker, Las Vegas Parks and Rec Director; Peter Harnik, director of the center for city park excellence The Trust for Public Lands

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