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City Leaders May Be More Optimistic About Park Equity Than They Should Be

A new survey of mayors points to gaps in policy to tackle the lack of diversity in green spaces. 

Parks became even more important during the pandemic. But challenges persist in diversifying park access. 

Parks became even more important during the pandemic. But challenges persist in diversifying park access. 

Photographer: Gabriela Bhaskar/Bloomberg

U.S. parks became crucial during the pandemic as they offered urban dwellers both solace and a safe space to meet with others, and mayors recognized as much. Three-quarters of mayors surveyed last summer said they expected residents to spend more time in green spaces than they did in the pre-pandemic days.

But mayors may be “overly optimistic” in their perception of how accessible and welcoming parks are for communities of color, says Katharine Lusk, the lead author of a new report based on Boston University’s annual Menino Survey of Mayors that she and her colleagues conducted between June and August 2020 among 130 city leaders.