Fort Wayne Ranks Last In Parks Study

May 26, 2016

This map shows where parks are located in Fort Wayne. Red means the need for parks is very high, dark orange means the need is high, and light orange means the need is moderate.
Credit Courtesy/The Trust For Public Land

The Trust for Public Land released its ParkScore ranking today, which ranks cities based on the size of its parks, amenities and the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk to a park.

This was Fort Wayne’s first year on the list, and the city came in last place.

The center of Fort Wayne is filled with parks, which is why Al Moll, the director of the city’s parks department, was surprised at the results of the study.

“So rare do we ever get anything negative on our parks system, so when you see something, it kind of stands out,” Moll said.

But Moll admits that as Fort Wayne has grown, the city hasn’t added new parks in those annexed areas. He says if Fort Wayne had annexed the northern part of Allen County like the mayor had proposed, the city’s score would probably be even lower.

Nine percent of Fort Wayne residents live within a half-mile walk to a park. Having a 10-minute walk to a park is a big factor in the study, says Adrian Benepe, director of city park development for The Trust for Public Land.

“People don’t want to walk more than 10 minutes to any place,” Benepe said. “And why is a 10-minute walk important? You’re not just walking to a little amenity. You’re walking to public health; you’re walking to all of the environment services that parks provide. Frederick Law Olmsted said in the mid-19th century, ‘Parks are the lungs of the city.’”

The ParkScore list used to rank the 75 largest U.S. cities but expanded to the largest 100. Fort Wayne finished last in 98th place because two cities didn’t send in data.

Indianapolis also ranked in the bottom ten. It tied in 95th place out of 98 cities.