Buffalo's parks are getting a good report card from a national group that watches and grades city parks.
The Trust for Public Land has promoted its rating of the city's parks network from 47 to 43. That is on top of the rating two years ago being 51. The group rates Minneapolis as having the best parks system in the country, beating out Washington, D.C.
In delivering the report card, the group said the COVID-19 crisis might hit parks very hard because of possible budget cuts. Trust New York State Director Carter Strickland said a major asset for Buffalo is that parks are so close to everyone of all economic and racial groups, within a 10-minute walk.
"It is definitely a good thing. It's one of our key metrics, park access, and the 10-minute walk score, which is a real walk score," Strickland said. "So if you are crossing a highway, we shorten the time and we look at the details like park access points and the like. So a 90% score is great. Average across the country is about 55%. So that's one of the metrics where Buffalo scores very well."
Strickland said the city could use some more parkland, particularly in North Buffalo and along the city's east city line.
"A close-by park we do think is important," he said. "Nationwide, there are 100 million Americans, including 28 million children, who are not within a 10-minute walk to a park and we want to change that."
Strickland said "parks have many functions," including a "key identity of the city."
Buffalo Parks Commissioner Andy Rabb said Buffalo is better off than many other cities because parks are close.
"One of the benefits of the legacy of Buffalo's park system is that residents, over 85% of the city's residents, are within a 10-minute walk to a park and that's a blessing," Rabb said. "Many cities don't have that. We are above average in that."
Rabb said the continuing improvement reflects the $67 million spent on capital projects by Mayor Byron Brown over his time in office, and that work is continuing.
"We are going forward with some of our capital projects now that we are getting into Phase One," he said. "So a neighborhood project that's a first for Buffalo is the creation of a cricket pitch over at Dewey Park. That project will take place this summer. We're going to continue to work on some of our small park shelter houses. This is a good time to do that type of work."