We need to create parks, public spaces and civic art, where citizens thrive, enterprises grow and communities flourish. There is a genuine energy and desire for change. Our call to action is to serve as enablers, helping people and communities become engaged, making the most of what we have and partnering with a variety of public- and private-sector organizations to help close health and equity gaps. This can create a better outcome for the community.
We have learned that great cities help us feel connected. Being connected is good for our health, helping people be happier and live longer. If we are to thrive as a community, we need to muster our resources and create our own future.
The M-Path/GreenLink, a 10-mile stretch of underutilized greenway beneath the Metrorail, can help transform our community. The GreenLink has all of the prerequisites to become the greatest public space investment Miami-Dade has ever seen, connecting South Miami, Coral Gables,
Miami and unincorporated areas from Dadeland to downtown — and laterally to Key Biscayne, West Miami, Palmetto Bay and beyond. The health effects are obvious. The beauty will be spectacular. The potential for social offerings will be limited only by our imaginations.
Greenways such as New York’s High Line, the Bloomingdale Trail in Chicago and Indianapolis’ Cultural Trail are examples of cities that have recognized the economics of connecting great public spaces and the residual effect on those communities through which they run. New York City’s park in the sky attracted more than 3.7 million visitors last year, has generated $2 billion worth of private investment surrounding the park and is predicted to exceed $900 million in new tax revenues for the city over the next 20 years.
Such figures are not to be dismissed as mere enthusiasm. For what started out as a rescue attempt by two neighborhood residents created the city’s second most popular tourist attraction after the Museum of Modern Art. It is decisive evidence that it is increasingly the quality of our parks and public spaces, not the towering ambition of our skyline, that makes our towns and cities stand out.
This same grassroots effort has been building momentum for the GreenLink, which began with the energy and leadership of Meg Daly, and it should be encouraged and supported in every way possible.
Let’s look at GreenLink 2030. What will we see? People enjoying and engaging with the city, talking, meeting, walking, cycling, connecting with each other. A new destination, a magnet for people, investment and visitors. A linear park with integrated transit stations that gives us a great sense of arrival into the city. A renewed sense of place, a city that is part of something bigger — connected and energized.
Jack Kardys is director of Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department. Maria Nardi is the department’s chief of Planning, Research and Natural Areas Management Divisions.