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St. Paul and Minneapolis still have two of the best park systems in the United States, according to an updated ranking from the nonprofit Trust for Public Land.

The annual ParkScore ranking was released on Wednesday. For the second year in a row, Washington D.C. claims the top spot in the rankings. St. Paul remained in the second spot for the second consecutive year as well, but Minneapolis has continued to fall in the rankings, falling to fifth.

In 2020, Minneapolis ranked first overall, then third last year.

The Twin Cities have never ranked outside of the top five, according to ParkScore.

“Minneapolis is honored once again to rank among the very best city park systems in the United States. We are especially proud of our equity-based investments in park improvements and programming, and that more than 98 percent of Minneapolis residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park,” said Al Bangoura, Superintendent of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, in a statement.

The rankings are determined by taking into account park access, including for residents of color and low-income residents, park amenities and investments made into the city's park system.

According to the most recent data, 99% of St. Paul residents and 98% of Minneapolis residents have access to a park within a 10-minute walk. The national average stands at 75%.

In addition, the ranking also takes into account how that number differs for certain groups of people. 

In St. Paul, residents in neighborhoods where most people identify as a person of color have access to 32% less park space per person than those in predominantly white neighborhoods. The gulf is also the same when comparing low-income neighborhoods to high-income neighborhoods.

As for Minneapolis, the disparity continues to grow from years past. Residents in neighborhoods where most people identify as a person of color have access to 60% less park space per person than those who live in predominantly white neighborhoods. Residents who live in low-income neighborhoods have access to 65% less park space per person than those in high-income neighborhoods.

“We are fully committed to making additional progress toward access and equity in our park system and demonstrating to the nation how parks can be part of the climate solution,” Bangoura added.

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According to a release, Minneapolis’ dip in the rankings was caused by positive steps taken by fourth-place Cincinnati and third-place Arlington, VA. ParkScore’s top five cities scored extremely closely, so small changes in any park system may shift the rank order.

“We are grateful to continuously be named one of the best parks and recreation systems in the country,” said Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Interim Director Tom Russell in a statement. 

"We hold our work to a high standard and we recognize there is always room for improvement. Access to high quality outdoor space is vital to creating livable and sustainable neighborhoods and we will continue to work hard to meet the needs of all who call Saint Paul home.”  

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