The Park Equity Accelerator will provide funding and expertise to cities across America “to address longstanding barriers to outdoor equity,” according to a July 8 news release from the city.
“As Fort Worth continues to grow at a rapid pace, conserving our green spaces and investing in park infrastructure will be key in continuing to provide the highest quality of life for residents,” Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker said in the release.
The 10-Minute Walk is an initiative of the national nonprofit Trust for Public Land. This program has partnered with over 300 mayors across 48 states, according to the release. The Park Equity Accelerator is a first-of-its-kind initiative to help address some of the causes of park inequities, the release stated.
Fort Worth is one of six cities chosen to be inaugural members of the accelerator program. The other cities are Chattanooga, Tennessee; Cleveland, Ohio; Lexington, Kentucky; Los Angeles, California; and Scranton, Pennsylvania.
“We know parks are vital for healthy communities, and that investment in parks is game-changing for resilient and thriving cities,” said Bianca Shulaker, senior director of Trust for Public Land’s 10-Minute Walk program, in the release. “However, years of policies and practices have resulted in underinvestment in neighborhoods, exacerbating this park equity gap, and denying millions the health, climate and social benefits of close-to-home access to the outdoors.”
Accelerator cities will field-test ideas over 12-15 months with the findings used to help other cities, according to the release.
To select cities for the accelerator program, the 10-Minute Walk program organizers looked for “commitment to advancing local park goals; readiness to explore, experiment with, and adopt new strategies or approaches; and potential to advance field understanding around a common issue or challenge,” according to the release.
About 61% of Fort Worth residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, according to data from the Trust for Public Land. The goal of the program is to increase that amount.
The city of Fort Worth will focus on “converting nontraditional spaces and developer-owned lands into parks,” according to the release.
“We are looking forward to seeing what value TPL will be able to add to our constant goal of providing quality, accessible parks for Fort Worth and for generations to come,” said Richard Zavala, Fort Worth Park & Recreation Department director, in the release.
Maya Contreras is an intern from the University of North Texas Scripps Howard Foundation Emerging Journalists program. She is a senior at Prosper High School in Prosper, where she serves as the opinion editor and lead graphic designer of Eagle Nation Online.