As Denton County’s population continues to grow, preserving space for parks and open spaces becomes more important for many reasons – health, quality of life, and economic and environmental well-being.
While we are fortunate to have LLELA and other parks surrounding our three lakes – Ray Roberts, Lewisville, and Grapevine – as well as more than 200 parks in our cities and towns, we still must plan ahead for a time when our escalating density imports a sea of office, commercial, retail, and residential development to all four corners of our thriving county.
I believe open spaces and parks are vital to our future. Providing open spaces within walking distance to all of our residents is a vital component of the quality of life for young and old alike.
In the 2022 Trust for Public Land ParkScore study that was recently released, 72 percent of Flower Mound residents were reported to live within a 10-minute walk of a park while only 38 percent of Little Elm residents reside within a 10-minute walk to a neighborhood park. The median score for the top 100 largest U.S. cities with plentiful parks and open spaces was 75 percent of individuals who live 10 minutes from a nearby park. We can do more to equalize park space throughout our county.
When you consider that Denton County has 879 square miles of land, with an additional 75 square miles under our three lakes, and an estimated 200 parks, we currently have 1 park for every 4.395 miles. Now add a population of 941,647 into the equation. That equates to one park for every 4,708 residents.
While we are in a better position now than we were a decade ago, thanks to the ongoing efforts of our communities to build more neighborhood parks, knowing that 82 additional people call Denton County home every day (or 29,930 new residents each year) clearly demonstrates our need to preserve more open space.
Parks attract tourists who book rooms in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and shop in our local stores. Corporate headquarters look at the quality of life opportunities for their employees, such as having homes close to parks and open spaces. And, according to a U.S. Forest Service calculation, a single tree in a 50-year life span generates $31,250 worth of oxygen, provides $62,000 worth of air pollution control, recycles $37,500 worth of water, and controls $31,250 worth of soil erosion.
As we mark June as Parks and Recreation Month, let us realize how fortunate we are in Denton County today and reflect on where we want to be 25, 50, or 100 years from now.
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