The numbers bear it out: Philadelphia’s parks are severely underfunded.
The Trust for Public Land has released its annual ParkScore Index, and Philadelphia has slipped in the rankings to 32 out of the country’s 100 most populous cities, down from 19 in 2021.
The index scores city park systems in subcategories such as access, acreage, amenities, investment and equity. In 2021 Philadelphia stood out in access (portion of residents within a 10 minute walk of a park) with 94 points out of 100 but lagged in acreage (46 points) and investment (54 points).
“The city’s drop in the rankings was caused almost entirely by reduced investment,” according to a Trust for Public Land press release. “Last year, the ParkScore index reported that Philadelphia spent an above-average $112 per person on parks. This year, that number tumbled to $73, below the national ParkScore average of $98.”
Philadelphia Parks and Recreation saw a $12.5 million budget cut—20%—early in the pandemic, money that was only partially restored in the 2022 budget. Mayor Jim Kenney’s proposed Fiscal Year 2023 Budget, which would start in July 2022, asks City Council for $68.1 million, an increase of about $2.8 million over 2022 but short of the $8 million increase that parks advocates are demanding as part of the #RecItPhilly campaign.