A Great City Starts With A Great Parks System

(Courtesy: Miami-Dade Parks)

Living in Miami, you already know how great our year-round weather is and all the opportunities to take advantage of the sunshine.  It’s no wonder Miami is regularly voted as one of the nation’s healthiest cities.

But as good as things are, Miami-Dade County still needs to invest in its parks and open spaces  to make sure it stays ahead of the ever-increasing population demands. It is the same challenge many of the nation’s major cities face: the population increases and people want more services.  At about 2.7 million, Miami-Dade’s population is expected to reach three million by 2025 and 4.5 million by 2060.

The challenges of trying to juggle limited resources with needs of the community, all while planning for long-term growth may be difficult to navigate, but having a plan to make a more sustainable city with parks at its core is what Miami-Dade’s visionary leaders did back in 1969 when they created the County’s first Open Space Master Plan.  It was a model for other fast-growing areas.

And it still is.

Ten years ago, Miami-Dade Parks began updating its Master Plan, which was last revised in 48 years ago when land was cheap and suburban sprawl was the cornerstone of urban planning. All these years later we learned that challenges to Miami-Dade’s quality of life: increased congestion; declining open spaces; visual blight; poverty; and obesity required a new lens from which to view future development. Residents said they wanted a green community with more parks/public spaces, and more options for recreating, including greenways and trails.

And that is what we set out to do.

Miami-Dade Parks benchmarked the best design practices from cities like Chicago, Seattle and Boston, and we learned a simple formula: Every great city has a great park system.  The park system residents want encompasses the entire public domain so that when you step out from your front door onto a sidewalk, you have entered a park-like realm. A system of great parks with public spaces, natural and cultural areas, greenways, trails, waterways and complete streets that serve as linear parks. The community identified six values that became the Master Plan’s guiding principles: Equity, Access, Seamlessness, Sustainability, Beauty and Multiple Benefits.

For many years, communities created parks and protected open spaces for people to enjoy.  But today, we are increasingly seeing the value of parks in protecting and enhancing our environment and our health. We have seen the power of green infrastructure to improve city environments and resilience, and there is a large, and growing, body of evidence that even modest amounts of exercise can have large, positive impacts on a person’s health.

The vision creates a livable, beautiful and sustainable Miami-Dade. Where every resident lives within walking distance of a public space; with a diverse and balanced system of recreational opportunities; where the County Parks Department works with every municipality and public school to provide open access to school yards and city parks; where a system of conservation and cultural centers elevates the public’s appreciation for our ecosystems; and where an interconnected network of shaded bikeways, trails and complete streets connects us.

On a national level, cities and counties average 9.5 acres per 1,000 residents: Miami-Dade just 3.8 acres; there is one park for every 2,277 residents: Miami-Dade one per 5,200 and in San Francisco and NYC, more than 95% of residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park or public space: Miami-Dade only 48%.

Demanding a greater investment in parks means you care about creating a great city to live, work and play in, and one that gets better over time. An integral component to sustaining our natural areas, increasing property values and improving the health and resiliency of residents and communities is making an investment in parks.

Isn’t it time we started?

For More Information visit: http://www.miamidade.gov/parksmasterplan/

More Articles From Miami-Dade Parks

Above content provided by Parks-Foundation of Miami-Dade and Miami-Dade Parks & Recreation

 

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