Fresno's Parks take last place in national list

FRESNO, Calif.

The U.S. Land and Trust ranked Fresno number 50 out of the country's 50 largest cities.

It's another day in the park for a Fresno mother and her boys. "We really enjoy the parks and the trails for running and biking. It's been great, said Becky Wren, Fresno.

A recent study by the trust for public land ranks Fresno's park system last in the country. The three key factors in the study: park access, park size and services and investment.

"We provide maps and other analysis to help the city pinpoint which neighborhoods are short on parkland,"said Peter Harnik, Director of the Centers for City Parks Excellence.

Although Fresno's park system finished last in the country, those involved in the study say it's not all bad news. In fact Fresno was one of four cities that improved it's rating over the past year.

"We actually do have funding to build three new parks which should help us in moving up the rank slightly, but the challenge is where do you find money to maintain parks," said Bruce Rudd, Fresno Assistant City Manager.

Money is a key source of keeping the lawn green and improving aging facilities. At Woodward Park, a non-profit group-humanity for healthy animals has adopted the dog park there.

"Lots of dogs needed this park. And I think people wanted their dogs to socialize. We meet wonderful dogs and people. It has become like a family park to us," said Mona Ahmed, Fresno.

Dog lovers like Ahmed believe the park experience could be improved with a water feature or more shade. Park enthusiasts say although Fresno ranked last place, to them it doesn't tell the whole story of the importance of our parks.

"They gotta come see Fresno then. They haven't seen Fresno then. I love Fresno," said Ahmed.

Fresno received a one-park-bench rating, up from last year's half a park bench rating. Minneapolis took first place on the list with a five-park-bench rating.

Other California cities making the top ten list include Sacramento, San Francisco, and San Diego.

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