National Park Land Standards

The National Recreation and Park Association suggests that a park system, at a minimum, be composed of a total of 6.25 to 10.50 acres of developed open space per 1,000 population.

Park Classifications


  • Description: Small areas intended primarily for the use of children up to early elementary grades. Most suited for apartments, townhouse and trailer parks.
  • Contents: Play equipment, swings, slides, sandboxes, benches.
  • Population served: Generally, serves toddlers to children age nine. Should be designed to have areas that accommodate adult gathering.
  • Service area and accessibility: The service area is confined to a sub-neighborhood level of 500 to 2,500 residents within a 1/4 mile area.
  • Acres/1,000 people: No ratio established; suggested .1 to .3 acres
  • Size range: 1,000 square feet to one acre. Can be serviced through mobile recreation programs.

Neighborhood Playground

  • Description: Designed to provide both active and passive short-term activities. Usually located adjacent to public schools.
  • Contents: Distinct play areas for preschool and school age children, shelter structures, open space, multiple-use paved for court games, areas for field games, some off-street parking, lighting.
  • Population served: General focus is for ages 5 to 14, with informal recreation for all ages. One per 1,000 to 5,000 population: possibly one for every elementary school.
  • Service area and accessibility: Neighborhood. Walking distance within 1/2 mile radius.
  • Acres/1,000 persons: 2.0 for cities of 10,000 to 25,000; 1.5 for cities of 25,000 to 100,000.
  • Size range acres: 5 to 10 for cities of 1,000 to 25,000; 4 to 8 for cities of 25,000 to 100,000

Neighborhood Park

  • Description: Landscaped natural park of limited size primarily for passive recreational needs of all ages but with designated active areas. Provides some scenic and aesthetic value. Should be located in the center of a multiple-family dwelling neighborhood or nearby site.
  • Content: Open lawn space, shrubbery, small picnic areas, drinking fountain, miniature scenic paths or nature walks, area for court games if not provided at a nearby recreation facility, off-street parking, lighting. Has some program potential.
  • Population served: For all ages. From 1,000 to 10,000 maximum.
  • Service area and accessibility: Entire neighborhood. If park is unique, it may attract others from another neighborhood.
  • Acres/1,000 persons: 2.0 for cities of 1,000 to 25,000; 1.5 for cities of 25,000 to 100,000.
  • Size range acres: 6 to 8 for cities of 1,000 to 25,000; 5 to 8 for cities of 25,000 to 100,000

Community Playfield

  • Description: Primarily an athletic complex that serves the recreational needs of the community. Usually one per community, however, if the community is cut by barriers or if sufficient acreage cannot be obtained, then two are recommended.
  • Content: An athletic complex has a lighted court and field games area, community center, swimming pool, lawn areas, adequate parking, may have picnic and play area for children. May be a portion of major community park. Has high potential for recreation programming.
  • Population served: All ages. Entire population of community, 10,000 minimum to 30,000 maximum.
  • Service area and accessibility: Within biking distance.
  • Acres/1,000 persons: Minimum one acre per 1,000 persons.  For cities up to 50,000 it is recommended there be 2 acres per 1,000 persons
  • Size range acres: 15 to 25 for cities of 1,000 to 250,000

Major Community Park

  • Description: A large natural area and/or landscaped area to provide urban dwellers escape for city congestion without traveling a large distance. Designed to accommodate a large number of people and a wide variety of activities. Provides for both intensive use and passive use.
  • Content: Provides for combination of intensive and non-intensive development ranging from play apparatus to bicycle trails. Typical facilities include swimming facilities, picnic tables, paths, game courts, gardens, and natural areas, pavilion, ample parking, sanitary facilities. May include multipurpose trails internally or as part of a system.
  • Population served: All ages, toddler to retiree. Serves between 40,000 to 100,000 people.
  • Service area and accessibility: Entire population for cities with population up to 25,000. 1 to 4 miles for cities of 1,000 to 25,000 persons.  Within 30 minutes for cities of 25,000 to 250,000.
  • Acres/1,000 persons: From minimum of one acre to maximum of five acres.  Recommended: 5.0 acres for cities of 1,000 to 100,000
  • Size range acres: 20 to 35 for cities of 1,000 to 25,000; 50 to 100 for cities of 25,000 to 100,000

Urban Greenspace or Open Space

  • Description: Passive areas in landscaped or natural state in or near urban areas. May be planned for conversion to more intensive recreational use when needed. May provide recreational use when needed. May provide recreational experiences, provide environmental quality, or act as buffers. Main recreational purpose is to act as buffer from congestion and provide aesthetic experience. May also act as a land bank.
  • Contents: Natural lands, watershed and waterfront, forests; landscaped borders, parkways, and boulevards, corner parks, medians, downtown aesthetic parks, plazas, malls, sanitary facilities. May provide bicycle, hiking, and nature trails as a feature or as part of a larger system.
  • Population served: Entire population, but may also be used as privacy buffer against high traffic corridors.
  • Service area and accessibility: Not established. Usually part of the park system and viewed as part of urban design and urban beautification program. Primary accessibility is visual, may have hiking paths along traffic corridors.
  • Acres/1,000 persons: No ratio established. Suggested to be .75 to 1.0 acres per 1,000. Cities of up to 100,000 would be 1.0 per 1,000 persons.
  • Size range acres: From a few square feet to and extended boulevard or parkway development.

Recreation Facilities

Facility Area Needed Units per Population Service Area
Baseball (Youth) 1.2 acres minimum 1 per 5,000 1/4 - 1/2 miles
Basketball Court 7,280 square feet 1 per 5,000 1/4 - 1/2 miles
Football 1.5 acres 1 per 20,000 15-20 minutes travel time
Multi-Use Court 9,840 square feet 1 per 10,000 1/4 - 1/2 miles
Soccer 1.7-2.1 acres 1 per 10,000 Depends on popularity
Softball 1.5-2 acres 1 per 5,000 1/4 - 1/2 miles
Swimming Pool 2 acres minimum 1 per 20,000 15 -30 minutes travel time
Tennis Court 7,200 square feet (1court) 1 per 2,000 1/4 - 1/2 miles
Trails 1 trail system per region

Volleyball 4,000 square feet 1 per 5,000 1/4 - 1/2 miles