ST. PAUL-Not all municipal park systems achieve the same flow. When nature calls, there's one city that ranks first in park restrooms, and it's not San Francisco, New York, Portland or even Minneapolis.
It's St. Paul, by a lot more than a nose.
The Trust for Public Land this week releases its annual ParkScore report, which ranks the park systems of the the 100 largest cities in the U.S. Minneapolis once again came out on top, as it has for six of the past seven years. St. Paul took second place, as it did last year, but inched a bit closer to tying with its sister city.
The report, which has adjusted its criteria ever so slightly over the years, ranks cities based on park acreage, park spending, the percentage of residents who live within a 10-minute walk to a park, and the prevalence of six different types of parks amenities - basketball hoops, dog parks, playgrounds, recreation and senior centers, restrooms and splash pads.
Minneapolis beat St. Paul on median park size - 5.7 acres vs. 3.2 acres.
Minnesota's capital city may not overtake Minneapolis in the overall rankings, but St. Paul does beat its bigger twin in at least one area: restrooms.
According to the Trust for Public Land, St. Paul is the nation's park restroom leader by a wide margin, offering 10.5 restrooms per 10,000 residents, compared to Minneapolis' 6.8 and the national average of 2.4.
"They're doing great, I'd say," said Charlie McCabe, the Trust's Director of the Center for City Park Excellence. "Restrooms are the number-one amenity that people are looking for in parks, quite honestly. And dog parks and splash pads are among the fastest growing feature that people are adding to their parks."
The ParkScore index doesn't come with a fat check or parades for top performers, but it does come with bragging rights. "It's seen as an indication of livability," McCabe said. "It's part of the mix that cities like to brag about - this is the place where you should live, this is the place where you should visit, this is the place where you should locate your business."
McCabe said the information to complete the index is compiled from the nation's 100 largest cities and GIS mapping data.
The cities in the ParkScore top 5 are:
• St. Paul
• Washington, D.C.
• Arlington, Va.
• San Francisco.
The cities rounding out the bottom 5 are:
• Laredo, Texas
• Fresno, Calif.
• Hialeah, Fla.
• Mesa, Ariz.
• Charlotte, N.C.