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Minneapolis has nation's best park system, nonprofit says

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Oak Point Park in Plano

The Twin Cities have some of the best parks in the nation. But the city slipped form 36th in 2016 to 40th this year, tied with Tampa, Fla.

The rest of the top 10 are San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; Portland, Oregon; Arlington, Virginia; Irving, California; New York; Madison, Wisconsin; and Cincinnati, Ohio.

The bottom five cities were Mesa, Arizona; Louisville; Charlotte; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Indianapolis.

The Trust for Public Land partnered with the city and served as project manager for the developmentofThe 606, an elevated trail that connects to four parks in Bucktown, Wicker Park, Humboldt Park and Logan Square. Some residents are calling for dog parks in South Side neighborhoods, as the majority of the city's 22 dog parks and dog beaches are clustered on the North Side.

But one of the ways San Francisco closed the gap also helped Minneapolis grow its lead.

The District and Arlington boast some of the nation's top and most-accessible park systems, but they lost a bit of ground over the past year, according to an annual report released Wednesday.

Scores are given based on the accessibility of the parks, size of the parks and the facilities that are offered.

"They're acknowledging our agreement [with the schools], which is why we jumped from 95 percent within a 10-minute walk of a park to 97 percent", said Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Superintendent Jayne Miller.

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This might be where St. Paul should avert its eyes.

Minneapolis topped the list, followed by St. Paul, Minn., and San Francisco.

"The answer is: We just don't know", said Matthew Kegan, a spokesman for the Trust for Public Land.

"Chicago has been for many decades on the cutting edge of park development and continues to be", said Adrian Benepe, senior vice president and director of city park development for The Trust for Public Land.

Cities get good ParkScores based on three things: access, size, and money invested in facilities like rec centers, playgrounds and dog parks. However, San Diego received a flawless 20 points out of a possible 20 for parkland as a percentage of a city area, and a low score of six out of 20 for playgrounds per 10,000 residents.

Plano boasts a median park size of 13.3 acres, but where the city really shines is park access.

The city's takeover of the former Olympic Training Center in January could impact its ranking next year.

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