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Public Parks contribute
to the health and well-being of citizens, by serving as a venue for physical
activity. In an age where health conditions related to obesity and diet are on
the rise, it is in the best interests of park administrators and city officials
to provide parks as well as ensuring their upkeep and accessibility. The Dallas
Park System is one of the largest of any city in the country. It has a total of
380 parks adding up to over 23,470 acres of developed and undeveloped parkland
according to the Dallas Park & Recreation department. Prominent landscape
figures include: 4,658 acres of water, 18,641 acres of  tree cover, 143 miles of developed trails, 4
dog parks, athletic fields, playgrounds, spray grounds, tennis, basketball and
volleyball courts, and picnic shelters. However, Not all parks in Dallas appear
to be created equal, with considerably more funds invested in North Dallas
communities such as Plano as opposed to poorer areas that would benefit the
most. Research from Gallup and Healthways which is an analytics and advice firm
shows that active living communities that invest in bike paths,
parks, and trails have citizens with better life prospects as far
as well-being goes. A previous report in their State of American Well-Being series
shows that across the communities studied nationwide, residents in the
five highest active living communities have, on average, significantly lower rates of
smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and
depression. Conversely, they also boast drastically higher rates of
exercise, healthy eating, fresh produce eating, and those thriving in physical
well-being as compared to residents in communities with low active living
infrastructure. These results support the fact that park networks are linked to
multiple aspects of health and wellbeing in cities and positively impact urban
quality of life as a whole”. However, Not everyone has viable access to
such parks . In fact,  if you can see
trees or vegetation from  your door you
are most likely living in one of the more affluent areas in your neighborhood.

The neighborhoods of South
Dallas come to mind when relating the inverse relationship that state of
wellbeing between north and south Dallas to that of urban parks. There are only
a small number of parks within this general area, most of them with the same
bareness of amenities and lack of green space. For Instance, Kimble Park a 1.2
acre neighborhood park established in 1966. To better understand this we must
consider the areas demographics. It has an estimated population of 15,050. Of
that 15,000 more than 90% are African American. There are 7,655 male residents and
7,395 female residents. The total number of households is 6,231 with 2.33
people per household on average. Total household expenditures in this are below the national average. The
median age of the current population is 38.75 with 1,453 people being married
and 8,968 being single. The employment numbers show that there are 61% white
collar employees and 39% blue collar employees. We can infer from this being a
low to moderate income earning community that perhaps not much time is set
aside visiting recreational areas even though they are free. Concerns may
include lack of outreach and information about parks by the city, safety
concerns regarding disrepair, and overall lack of enticing amenities that
provide a reason for visiting as well. A one acre plot with no facilities, no
community investment, or even a small grill is hardly welcoming. To be fair
there are other parks within the general area of this community that provides a
stark contrast to the previous one. For instance the William Blair jr. Park.
This park boasts an impressive 900 acres, perhaps showing us the reason why
some of the other smaller parks are barren in comparison. Interestingly, a
large amount of community investment was put into this location. 4.6 miles of natural
surface trails were built by the Student Conservation Association and
Groundwork Dallas. The amenities/ facilities include: fishing, lake/pond,
outdoor basketball, pier, playground, portalets, sculpture areas, soccer field,
volleyball field and the aforementioned trails. This park is evidently the
antithesis of the one mentioned  earlier,
showing that citizens definitely have a desire for green space. Immediately
surrounding urban areas are experiencing a decline in the quality and quantity
of their green spaces overall however.  The racial make up also brings to mind the
idea of  “white flight”. This is
when  falling high income availability
and deteriorating public safety and services, prompt high income households(
typically white and asian families historically) to relocate from city centers to
suburbs thus leaving the appeal of urban park development a foregone
conclusion. Highly urbanized and wealth driven areas such as Downtown Dallas
have begun to show evidence of this with extremely expensive parks coupled with
restaurants and other amenities which are all but welcoming to low and moderate
income earning individuals from the outskirts. People from low socioeconomic
groups such as South Dallas without resources to move to greener areas may one
day have to face environmental injustice with regards to access of such areas.
That is, unless gentrification occurs first.

The neighborhoods of
North Dallas bring with them the implication of expansive green spaces and  urban 
landscapes. Plano specifically, which boasts an impressive 62 park and
trail system. In 2013, the city of  Plano
received  the  top spot  nationally in a livability survey according to The population of Plano is 281,731. 63.5% of the total
population of Plano is White, 8.3% is Black or African American, and 19.6% is
Asian. The age distribution of Plano is 61.9% ages 20-64 years, 26.0% ages 19
years or younger and 12.1% ages 65 years or older. The median age for females
is 39.8 years old. The median age for males is 37.8 years old. 54.1% of Plano
residents are married. 55.1% of residents have obtained a college degree or
higher. The projected annual population growth in Plano over the next five
years is 2.7%. The estimated population density in Plano is 3,910 per square
mile. The estimated income for Plano is $44,546. The average household income
in Plano is $114,728. The average travel times in Plano are: 15-29 minutes
(35.4%), 30-59 minutes (31.1%) and 14 minutes or less (20.9%). The total number
of businesses in Plano is 14,230. The unemployment rate for Plano stands at
2.5%. 22.7% of Plano workers have Blue Collar jobs whereas 77.3% have a White
Collar job. 76.0% of Plano residents are married couples with children. The
average family household size is 3.2. 61.4% of Plano residents own their home
while 38.6% of residents rent. The median household income in Plano is $88,077.
The owner-occupied median home value in Plano is $206,868.The renter-occupied
median rent in Plano is $820.  The
difference in demographics between  the
north and south  is extreme, particularly
in regards to income. The income can  be
attributed  to the large amount of
college educated citizens who are also married in the area. The elderly, the
young, and secondary educated people in these cities seem to benefit more from
the  presence of green areas in their
living environment than other groups in large cities under. This can be made
apparent by the care and elaborate designs of the parks. One such park is Bob
Woodruff Park. The park features include: Baseball Fields, Benches,
Bicentennial Bur Oak Tree, Creeks, Drinking Fountains, Fishing Pier, Grills,
Lake (12.7 acres), Outdoor Learning Center, Parking, Paved recreational trails ,
Pavilions , Picnic Shelter, Picnic Tables, Playgrounds, Restrooms, Sand
Volleyball. The parks are centrally located 
and are able to cater to the entire city. There are also an
interconnection of trails that serve to connect other parks to other
neighborhoods.  Additionally, parks are
and essential part of the communities they serve and contribute to the health
of the community. For example, due to the abundance of outstanding  parks in Plano, the residents visit these
parks with their children, friends, dogs  and even  by themselves more often . Thus, creating a
lifestyle for themselves that promotes exercise, relaxation, and meditation. In
return increases life expectancy , 
decreases high blood pressure, stress and obesity

After comparing and
contrasting these areas, one is able to find a link between urban, public and
recreational areas with healthy and wealthy communities. Park space generates
many economic and environmental benefits. Many of these benefits are not
obvious, for instance, popular parks positively regulate the local climate
and  reduces energy costs. Even better, a
beautiful park enhances local property values for  homeowners and revenue for the city through
tax assessments. The location of public parks also determine the city’s
landscape as far as housing and business, with it being more desirable for
citizens to purchase property near these sites. This means that there is an
contributory relationship between location and 
residential development. I believe this lends itself to the idea that
income stratification exists and is responsible for the concentration of
poverty. Perhaps city officials  could
create open space with similar amenities within the city to lessen the outward
pull of developable land going north. Suburban households reveal their
preference for their location, but deeper understanding of which attributes
drive this preference would be helpful in convincing officials which areas need
the real advantage of public and recreational prosperity granted by parks.