Description: Access to parks improves community health, spurs social capital development and increases property values. People are more likely to perceive parks as accessible when they are located within a quarter mile of their home.
Performance Measure(s): Percent of Fairfax County Population that Live within a Quarter Mile of a County Park Entrance
Interpretation: Based on data analyzed by the Fairfax County Park Authority in 2016, approximately 20% of county residents lived within a quarter-mile walk of a park entrance. Similar data analysis yielded that approximately 56% of residents lived within half-mile walk of a park entrance. Parkland distribution, trail and sidewalk infrastructure, and population density are the primary factors that impact residents’ park access. The county’s population growth is largely forecasted to occur in areas that currently lack adequate parkland and walking infrastructure to provide park access (Fairfax County Park Authority, 2017). This data is currently being updated, but was not available at the time of this publication.
Over the last year, the Park Authority has been working internally and with partners to build broader support and elevate the importance walkable access to parks. Below are some of our efforts.
- The Partnership for a Healthier Fairfax (PFHF) new 5-year Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) includes several key actions related to improving walk access to parks and recreation facilities. Draft goals and key actions are being shared with targeted stakeholders over the next month and the final plan is scheduled for approval at the end of the year (2018).
- The Park Authority Board adopted a new 5-year Strategic Plan in June 2018. The plan includes a strategic objective, supporting action steps and performance measures related to improving walkability (1/4 mile and ½ mile walk) to parks. We’re working to align staff/resources to support this now. One of our first steps will be to develop a countywide park access plan that will help to assess gaps and identify priority areas for improvements based on key factors such as equity and health.
- In support of a grant application the Park Authority submitted this past March, Chairman Bulova signed on to the nationwide 10-Minute Walk campaign in support of our commitment and efforts to improve park quality and access. We also received letters of support from OCR, FCDOT, FCHD, PFHF, NCS, and the DC ULI chapter. Although the Park Authority unfortunately was not selected for the grant, it demonstrates the broad support and recognition of this as a priority for quality of life in our community.
Source: Fairfax County Park Authority