Miami Herald | EDITORIAL

Let the sunshine in


OUR OPINION: Make the most of a movement to protect and expand greater Miami’s parks and green spaces

There’s a call to action to reverse the vanishing open spaces in Miami-Dade County and boost the quality and use of existing parks — and we think that’s a good thing. Especially in a community that, according to a 2012 study, has the least amount of park space per capita of any high-density city in the nation.

With a land-grabbing construction boom now stirring again, standing up as a community to help preserve some of our remaining bits of green is again a worthy cause.

Last week, the 2014 Great Park Summit was hosted by the Miami-Dade Park, Recreation and Open Spaces Department at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Community leaders, including Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Javier Alberto Soto of The Miami Foundation, champions of green spaces, discussed “enhancing regions, though innovative design, planning and stewardship of public spaces.”

Participants included officials from Philadelphia and New Orleans, cities that have rebirthed their public spaces. More than 300 people attended — and many were standing.

In downtown Miami last week, the citizen-fueled Arena Park Forum by downtown Miami residents met to push for the waterfront green space they hoped to enjoy when they moved to the core of the city.

A main topic for moderator Gregory Bush, a University of Miami professor, was the long-forgotten park promised by the Miami Heat as part of its AmericanAirlines Arena deal — a tradeoff so it could have that breathtaking aerial waterfront view over the arena during every home game telecast.

Among the good news at the meeting was a visit from Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, who promised the group she was picking up the flag on the project to build what she called “a passive park” behind the Triple A, largely for the thousands of downtown residents who have moved into the big towers and who have to walk their dogs in a concrete jungle. We commend the commissioner for stepping in. Maybe another politician will champion the Museum Park project near Bicentennial Park.

On Tuesday, the Miami Foundation will end its contest calling for creative ideas for new open spaces. The winners will hopefully launch projects like the recently unveiled effort by civic activist Meg Daly, Miami-Dade Parks and UM students to enhance the space under the southern leg of the Metrorail with a linear park along the 10-mile GreenLink trail from the Miami River to the Dadeland South station. Ms. Daly outlined her dynamic vision on Saturday’s Other Views page.

We also have sick parks. Recent Miami Herald articles have revealed that several parks have soil contamination. Some have closed and reopened after testing.

And one of the city’s biggest parks is under siege — Bayfront Park, home to the now-controversial Ultra Music Festival. A little-known fact is that the park closes to the public for nearly a month as organizers set up and then tear down giant stages and sound systems in March and April.

Some say denying the public for a month access to Miami’s most visible waterfront park is unacceptable. They have a good point. That issue will likely come to play as city leaders consider whether to invite the festival back.

It seems that interest in parks and green spaces comes and goes. Right now, we’re paying attention, probably because parks offer us a sanctuary from our tech obsession. Unplug and join in.

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