Unlike many cities, Lexington residents have strong access to parks and rec: Study

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A new study commissioned by Knight Foundation and conducted by the Urban Institute finds most Greater Lexington area residents have good access to recreational areas.

But nationally, the report found racial and economic disparities in accessing these areas may exist in urban communities.

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Here are other key Lexington findings from “Community Ties: Understanding what attaches people to the place where they live,”:

  • The great majority — 86 percent — of residents surveyed feel that they have easy access to a wide number of amenities such as recreational areas.
  • Nationally, this study found that while recreational areas ultimately could create more attachment between residents and their community, low-income residents and residents of color often feel these amenities are less accessible to them than higher-income, white residents.

“This study shows that Lexington continues to connect residents to what they feel is important and necessary in their community,” said Lilly Weinberg, Knight’s senior director of community and national initiatives. “Lexington could build on this momentum by continuing to invest in projects — such as the transformative Town Branch Commons public-private park and trail system — that will further attach residents to their community.”

Conducted prior to the COVID-19 shutdowns, Community Ties leverages a survey of over 11,000 Americans residing in metro areas across the  country — including Lexington — to create one of the richest datasets on what drives attachment to place.

  • Those with access to quality of life amenities such as arts, recreational areas and safe places to live, work and play reported a deeper attachment to their community, compared with those who did not.
  • The Lexington data reveals how attached local residents are to the Lexington metro area and where gaps in access exist across urban amenities. It offers points of consideration for such leaders such as boosting time in the city, focusing on quality of life and paying attention to issues of equity, to strengthen residents’ ties to their communities.

As cities plan for a post-COVID-19 world and reckon with racial justice, the report provides knowledge for public officials and other community leaders to help make cities more resilient, urban public spaces more equitable, and think anew about how to build places where people want to live, work, play and stay.

To see how cities compare in different areas with other Knight communities and the national averages, visit this interactive website.