Ann Arbor has joined 133 other cities and towns across the United States in the "10-Minute Walk" parks advocacy campaign started by The Trust for Public Land, the National Recreation and Park Association, and the Urban Land Institute.
The goal for the initiative is that all residents should live within a 10-minute walk (about a half-mile) of a park or green space. The U.S. Conference of Mayors also recently passed a resolution urging all mayors to actively pursue the goal.
Ann Arbor already meets this goal in nearly every neighborhood, according to Colin Smith, parks and recreation services manager for Ann Arbor. There are a few places where the University of Michigan owns a large chunk of land, and in those areas, the walk to the nearest park may be a little over 10 minutes, Smith says.
The Trust for Public Land is currently mapping park access in cities across the country. Starting in 2018, the campaign organizers will start working with selected cities on strategies and policies to promote the 10-minute walk goal. Reaching the goal is expected to involve changes in how parks are financed and constructed, along with zoning changes and making sure park access goals are included in each city's master plan.
Before it joined the initiative, Ann Arbor already had a goal in its master plan for having a park within a quarter-mile of every residence, and this distance is walkable in 10 minutes for most people, Smith says.
The Trust for Public Land says that having easy park access for all residents is important for a number of reasons, ranging from physical health benefits to a sense of building community as neighbors meet and socialize in nearby parks.
"Ann Arbor certainly recognizes and appreciates the value a park can bring to a neighborhood," Smith says. "Supporting this 10-minute walk idea nationwide is important, because a lot of things a park can provide are a great benefit for any community."
Information and maps for each of nearly 160 parks in Ann Arbor can be found at the Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation website.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image courtesy of 10-Minute Walk campaign.