The goal of the program is to ensure all Fort Worth residents have access to a quality park within a 10-minute walk of their homes.
According to data gathered by TPL, about 61 percent of the city’s residents live within that target. The city has 301 parks comprising about six percent of its land. That is lower than the median percentage of park land dedicated by cities across the United States.
“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,” said Mayor Mattie Parker, a supporter of the program, in a press statement.
She added, “I am thrilled that Fort Worth has been selected to participate in TPL’s 10-Minute Walk Program’s Park Equity Accelerator to fast-track our efforts to ensure every resident in every zip code can enjoy the health, environment, and community benefits of having close-to-home access to parks.”
“While we already have many excellent parks in District 2, I look forward to seeing how this emphasis on partnerships and non-traditional spaces will make more parks close-to-home for more of our residents,” Councilman Carlos Flores told The Texan via email.
According to Joel McElhany, an assistant director within the city’s parks department, TPL is providing planning and facilitation services at no cost.
There are no current plans to purchase land or equipment within the budget based on the 10-Minute Walk program. “The current focus is to identify partnerships that will enable the public to use existing land for parks and open space,” McElhany explained.
The partnership with TPL will last between 12 and 15 months.
City staff is still working on the details of the park equity program and did not provide information about the long-term implications of implementing the TPL strategy in the city.
McElhany acknowledged that it could result in acquiring park lands and improving facilities.
Christina Brooks, chief equity officer for the city, said that the program aligns with equity goals set out in the 2018 Race and Culture recommendations.
More specifically, she believes the program addresses health disparities by “focus[ing] on areas in Fort Worth that we’ve identified using health and other resident demographic disparity data as being priority areas for these efforts.”
The city’s Diversity and Inclusion Department was established in 2019 when Brooks was hired to direct it after serving in South Bend, Indiana under openly gay Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
The department’s budget has steadily increased, with a proposed 16.57 percent hike in Fiscal Year 2023 to $2.4 million.
The TPL website states the purpose of the 10-Minute Walk Park Equity Accelerator is “to close the park equity gap and address cities’ pressing needs around health, resilience, environmental protection, economic development and community building through parks.”
Over 300 mayors across 48 states are currently involved in the park equity program.
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Kim Roberts is a regional reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.