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Minneapolis has the best park system in the US – St. Paul is No. 2

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Minneapolis has the best park system in the United States – a title the city has gotten for the fourth year in a row.

That's according to The Trust for Public Land's ParkScore Index, which ranked the park systems in the 100 largest cities in the United States. The index looks at park access, the size of the park, and facilities and investments in a city's parks.

Last year, Minneapolis and St. Paul tied for the top spot (it was St. Paul's first year of eligibility), but this year the City of Lakes edged out its neighbor with a score of 86.5 to 82.5. St. Paul came in at No. 2.

“Minneapolis and St. Paul are extraordinary cities with extraordinary park systems — in some ways, it is unfortunate they couldn’t stay tied forever," Nettie Compton, senior director of ParkCentral & City Park Development for The Trust for Public Land, said in a news release.

Both Minneapolis and St. Paul received a five-bench rating – the highest rating possible. The only other city to do so on this year's list was Washington, D.C., which came in at No. 3 on the list.

Minneapolis scored above average on all rating factors, the news release says. Here's how the Twin Cities scored:

  • St. Paul outscored Minneapolis slightly in park access – 96 percent of people living in St. Paul are within a 10-minute walk from a park, while 95 percent of Minneapolis residents are.
  • Minneapolis' median park size is 6.5 acres, while St. Paul's median park size is 3.7 acres – this factor helped push Minneapolis above St. Paul in the ranking, according to the trust.
  • St. Paul has slightly more basketball hoops and playgrounds compared to Minneapolis, while Minneapolis has more dog parks. The two tied in their number of recreation and senior centers.

Median park size, as well as accurately reporting how many basketball hoops it has, helped Minneapolis break the tie with St. Paul, the release says. (The Star Tribune says last year Minneapolis was counting basketball courts instead of how many basketball hoops it had.)

Jayne Miller, superintendent of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, says the board is honored by the ranking, but will continue to work to improve its parks, including focusing on the "most racially diverse and economically challenged areas of the city."

"During the last five years, we have invested significantly in parks throughout the city but especially in north and upper south Minneapolis with new community centers, athletic fields and the first natural swimming pool in North America," Miller said in the release.

At last week's park board meeting, commissioners approved a 20-year neighborhood park plan that will provide an additional $11 million every year for Minneapolis' parks.

Note: Minneapolis and St. Paul were the only two Minnesota cities eligible for this year's ranking. Eligibility is based on population size.

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