How do I find data on my park?

Facts matter. When working on an existing or new park make sure you know what is there – in terms of facilities, programming, operation, and maintenance – or what is planned, parks departments often have strategic plans that spell out the future for a period of years along with a funding stream that dictates where and when improvements will take place.

Gathering data can help convey the importance of access to greenspace in your community. Start by searching for basic information on your city’s website, there you'll discover information on local parks, acreage, amenities, and more. After you’ve reviewed your local municipality’s website you’ll have a better understanding of your local park system, but don’t stop there.

The Trust for Public Land has three, free online resources that can help you determine the health of local park systems nationwide. City Park Facts provides the most complete and in-depth yearly update of park systems in the 100 largest US cities. The ParkScore [index] uses mapping technology and data collected on park systems of the largest US cities to analyze and rank them, and the ParkServe [platform] measures and analyzes current access to parks in 14,000 urbanized places nationwide. In addition to these three resources, you can utilize NRPA's Agency Performance Review as a tool to find more general information about your park system that goes beyond the 100 largest US cities.

Once you’ve uncovered and compiled this basic set of data on your community, get in touch with your local parks department. They’ll be able to provide insight into your area’s master plans. National Recreation and Park Association can help you connect with local, regional, and national parks professionals working in your area. Through discussions with these park professionals, you can discuss plans for development of your parks ecosystem and gain insight into the planning processes for short and long-term projects. You may find that plans for the development of a park in your area already exist which will provide you with the chance to explore opportunities for joint efforts.

Opening a dialogue with your parks department will also help you understand their capacity. To understand the workings of your local parks department, find out about local operations and maintenance crews, what they do on a regular basis, and what they’d like to do if there were unlimited resources.

You can also discover volunteer opportunities and programs associated with your local parks department. Often, volunteer's support is invaluable and they’ll engage in park programming, horticulture, and more. Use your newly minted connection with your local park professionals to positively influence the future of parkland close to your home.

After you've connected with your parks department and you have an in depth understanding of your local parks ecosystems needs, you can use data to drive home support for your park project.