Many areas in Marion County are in need of green spaces, but low-income minority areas need them the most, a SAVI Talks study concluded.
Varying definitions of what defines a green space and outdated data makes quantifying green spaces difficult, but a common consensus defines green space as an area of vegetation set apart for recreational purposes in an urban environment.
Assessing the number of existing green spaces, the need for it and land development potential, researchers developed an interactive green space priority index to assess Marion County’s green space needs.
Why Green Spaces?
The spaces are an important component to many cities— they increase life expectancy, reduce crime and improve overall quality of life. Research has found green space to be related to a reduction in mortality rates, preterm birth rates, reducing harmful pollution and mitigating the urban heat island effect, urban areas that are significantly warmer than surrounding areas. Indianapolis is known to have a significant heat island effect.
Green space need is sporadic
The space need throughout Marion County is sporadic and nuanced due to Indianapolis’s large sprawling metropolitan area, researchers found. Areas around large state parks such as Eagle Creek and Fort Harrison have little space priority — however, some small subdivisions surrounding the parks still have high green space priority based on accessibility and community need.
The complexity makes most trends based on race and income weak when looking at Marion County as a whole, but historic redlining points to a strong correlation in several geographic pockets and a need for more community input to more precisely determine space priority, according to the report.
While relationships between race and space need vary throughout the county, several areas with predominantly Black and low-income populations have a high space priority including Arlington Woods and Lawrence neighborhoods. East Indy and Southwest Indy have strong relationships between income and greenspace needs, but trends vary throughout the county.
The complexity and nuance of data points to a need to get residents involved, researchers suggest, to truly understand the limitations in data and assess community needs. SAVI Talks plans to use the data to implement on their Environmental Topic Page and update as data becomes available.