Currently viewing the tag: "Parks"

Brickell Green Space, the grassroots movement for increased public space and parkland in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood released some exiting new renderings of their proposed space.

Rendering for the proposed space along the Miami River. Currently, the lot is vacant with no immediate development plans.

Brickell Green Space is a project headed up by Mark Schrieber to raise awareness and garner public support for a park in Brickell. Through the project’s website, supporters can sign an online campaign, which already has over 500 signatures.

From the project’s website:

The proposed Miami River park location aligns with several previous published master plans and studies. The City of Miami Parks Master Plan, created back in 2007, identified the need for a neighborhood park between Mary Brickell Village and the Miami River. In order to help illustrate our concept better two local Miami landscape architecture firms, WalkLAUD and TrudStudio, recently teamed up to create a conceptual design for this riverfront location.

The website also lists a series of compelling reasons why this site should be converted into a park.

  • As undeveloped land has all but disappeared from the urban core of Miami, Brickell stands to lose the most from rampant overdevelopment.
  • With the highest residential density in Miami, Brickell has a lower parkland per 1,000 residents than the City average, which is already amongst the lowest in the USA for cities of it’s size.
  •  If Miami doesn’t fill this critical need for more public space, the neighborhood’s livability and quality of life will decrease. This could result in disinvestment and reduced appeal for residents and business to invest in the Brickell and Downtown areas.

Currently, the project aims to generate awareness and add signatures to their movement through social media channels (on Facebook and Twitter)  and events held at local businesses. An ultimate goal of the project would be to have a developer buy the space and adopt their plans for a park as a means of protecting and enhancing their neighborhood investments in other properties. Swire Properties, who is developing the massive Brickell Citi Centre across the street from this site, is perhaps the most obvious player that comes to mind.

For more information, check our www.BrickellGreenSpace.com.

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It’s back!

After a 6-month hiatus from any noticeable construction activity, the site of Brickell’s “Triangle Park” (also known as Flatiron park) is abuzz with activity. Yesterday, a beautiful Kapok tree was planted and today’s picture shows more on the way. We reported on the suspended progress on the park back in February. Thankfully, all signs point to full-steam-ahead and Brickellans will soon be able to enjoy a centrally-located, public neighborhood oasis.

However, we’re still concerned about the lack of crosswalks or traffic calming adjacent to the site. Walking to a neighborhood park with your kids should not require dodging speeding hulks of motorized metal.

Curbed Miami has a solid assemblage of stories about the park from around the blogosphere.

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The City of Miami is talking parks, and they want your input.

Come out Tuesday, May 1, 2012, to José Martí Park (along the Miami River, in the heart of Miami) — time and location information below.

Ensure that your voice is heard as the future of our city’s park system is considered. Your input will help inform the park component of the City of Miami’s next Comprehensive Plan.

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Parking spaces around the globe to be temporarily reclaimed for people

Miami, FL September 16, 2011 — In cities around the globe today, artists, activists and citizens will temporarily transform metered parking spaces into public parks and other social spaces, as part of an annual event called “PARK(ing) Day.”

Originally invented in 2005 by Rebar, a San Francisco-based art and design studio, PARK(ing) Day challenges people to rethink the way streets are used and reinforces the need for broad-based changes to urban infrastructure. “In urban centers around the world, inexpensive curbside parking results in increased traffic, wasted fuel and more pollution,” says Rebar’s Matthew Passmore. “The planning strategies that generated these conditions are not sustainable, nor do they promote a healthy, vibrant human habitat. PARK(ing) Day is about re-imagining the possibilities of the urban landscape.”

Locally, a group of organizations such as OPRA, Transit Miami, the Street Plans Collaborative, and the Urban Environmental League have partnered with the City of Miami Parking Authority to transform ten metered parking spaces in one of Downtown Miami’s least green neighborhoods into a park. The event will take place at 700 N. Miami Avenue, directly in front of the old Miami Arena, demolished in 2008. The Old Arena site is also the future site of Grand Central Park (www.grandcentralpark.org), an OPRA project to convert five acres of rocks on the former arena site into a three year temporary park.

Since 2005, the project has blossomed into a worldwide grassroots movement: PARK(ing) Day 2010 included more than 800 “PARK” installations 180 cities around the world. This year, the project continues to expand to urban centers across the globe.

PARK(ing) Day is an “open-source” user-generated invention created by independent groups around the globe who adapt the project to champion creative, social or political causes that are relevant to their local urban conditions. More information regarding local PARK(ing) Day activities can be found and a global map of all participating cities are available on the PARK(ing) Day website, at parkingday.org.

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Two of Miami’s most priceless gems have been placed on the chopping block: the Barnacle State Historic Park and the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve.

The Barnacle was built by Ralph Munroe in the 1880s (long before the City of Miami existed, and ancient by local standards). The Commodore was a Pioneer, and much more. He was a genius in Naval Architecture. Biscayne Bay’s shallow waters shaped his thinking, and he defied the deep-draft keel-boat conventions of his era to design and build over 60 shallow-draft sailboats. Most were Sharpies with swing-keels. He literally changed the way that sailboats boats are designed world-wide, including many popular designs we take for granted today. I had the honor to help build a replica of Munroe’s Flying Proa at the Barnacle. This 30′ outrigger sailing canoe was the first multi-hull known to have sailed our Bay. It was 100 years ahead of its time, and is on display at the Barnacle today!

The house is just as unique. It was designed to draw air up from the cool limestone foundation, through the house, and out the copula. He harnessed the “lift” created by the wind to create natural air conditioning… in the 1880s! The shape that made this possible looks just like a Barnacle, hence the name.

Finally there is the Hardwood Hammock, the last remnant in an area that has been paved and built into downtown Coconut Grove. Preserved by the Commodore and his family, who donated it to the State for safekeeping, it is Nature’s last bastion, providing irreplaceable habitat and food for wildlife. The pungent funkiness of Stoppers announces that it still survives to passers-by on Main Highway. The original, much-larger property has been carved up and developed, and only a fraction remains.

The Boathouse, House and Grounds are packed with examples of how this “Miami Original” was shaped by Miami, and as a result shaped the world. Don’t allow those who don’t value Miami’s history and ecosystems to exclude you and your kids from discovering genius, and growing from the experience.

Biscayne Bay has been under assault for over a century during Miami’s development. For many decades it was a cesspool, a dumping area for raw sewage. Channels slashed its bottom, bleeding sediments that are still killing habitats. Once, Mangrove estuaries made Miami’s fishing legendary, and the waters churned with life. Many people wrote that during seasonal bait runs “it looked like you could walk on the fish”. Visitors flocked to Miami for fishing and eco-tourism. Today, marine life is a pale shadow. Sterile sea-walls have no safe-havens to grow seafood, game-fish. They also keep the Bay waters murky, contributing to the death of the remaining sea-grass beds and hiding the wonders of nature from children. These conditions drive away tourist dollars.

The Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve (BBAP) was established to protect the remaining habitats, and even heal the damage caused by greed and carelessness. Away from busy channels the shallow grasses usually manage to filter sediments, keeping the waters as gin-clear as Mother Nature intended. Manatees and fish raise young, protected by the shallows from boat propellers. Wading birds come at low tide, marching in a line across the flats to feed on slow or careless crabs, fish and shrimp.

These the amazing sea-grass beds are among Miami’s least-known treasures. Most drivers on
Rickenbacker and Julia Tuttle Causeways are oblivious, but they would only have to look north from the bridges for a glimpse of Paradise.

The BBAP serves as guardian and educator for all of Biscayne Bay that is not part of the National Park.
I grew up on Biscayne Bay. I have caught fish, and learned to skin-dive, spearfish, sail and waterski there. I wandered grass-flats, and searched mangrove forests for native orchids. Over the years I have been surrounded by sleeping Manatees, schooling Cutlassfish and mating Dolphins. If you want your children to experience these things, do not allow the BBAP to die.

These are just two of the 53 State Parks and Preserves threatened with Closure by the Florida’s new Governor. The others are just as valuable as the Barnacle and the BBAP, but it is for those who know them best to speak for them. Miami and Florida have the habit of throwing forgotten treasures under the bulldozers of development. The first stage is “Demolition by Neglect”, which is provided as “proof” that the public doesn’t care about them. This justifies their later sale or destruction. Don’t let this happen.

Stand up for what belongs to YOU and your kids. Remind your legislator, the governor, and this newspaper that you care. Do nothing, and these places that belong to every Floridian may be lost forever.

Sam Van Leer
Executive Director & Founder
Urban Paradise Guild
sam@urban-paradise.org

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Netherlands based West 8 has finally released their proposed design for Lincoln Park adjacent to the New World Symphony building by Frank Gehry.  More than a year after changing Frank Gehry as the park designer, West 8 has released an exciting design for the urban park in the heart of Miami Beach.

According to the architect’s website:

The Lincoln Park site is small — less than three acres in size. In European public space tradition, a site this small might be composed entirely of hard plaza surface, such as the 3.25-acre Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy.  Even in American park design, urban parks can have a substantial amount of paved surfaces. Union Square Park in San Francisco is almost the same size as Lincoln Park, and equally positioned in the heart of its city center. It’s a place of gathering and activity and a place of relaxation for residents and visitors. But while Union Square Park has some patches of lawns and small gardens, most of the surfaces are paved plaza.

Given this precedent for urban parks, a question emerged early in the design process for Lincoln Park: should this public space feel like more like a plaza or be “green,” like a park?  What is appropriate for this site, with its future use as a place of gathering, its openness to the intense sun, the availability of a pallet of tropical vegetation, its relationship to a stunning new piece of architecture, and its position within the activity of Miami Beach?

West 8 felt strongly that our mission is to deliver a green park, not a plaza. A park that feels intimate, shady, and soft.  A park that will support the world-class attraction provided by the projection wall on the New World Symphony Building.  A park that reflects the spirit and vitality of Miami Beach.  And a park that will support a multitude of day and night uses, either under the shade of the trees or a starlit sky.

Lincoln Park will also have the wonder of some totally unique features that are one of a kind.  First, there will be several pergolas that embrace the park edges, whose shape is inspired by the puffy cumulous clouds in this tropical climate. This will not only provide shade but will support the bright blooms of bougainvillea vines.  High quality artwork is equally important here, and the projection wall is an ideal “canvas” for video projection artists, an emerging and exciting discipline of art.  Both local and international artists could provide an ever-changing exhibit that would occur outside the walls of a traditional museum experience.

Lincoln Park will actually convey the illusion of a larger park than its small size actually is. This will be achieved by careful manipulation of the topography for a gentle undulation underfoot; by establishing “veils” of palm tree planting that conceal and reveal views; and by creating a mosaic of meandering pathways that lure you through all corners of the Park.

When realized, Lincoln Park will be a unified expression of recreation, pleasure and culture. Combined with the momentum of the New World Symphony’s uses and outstanding architecture, the campus will be a world class destination that marries music, design and experience.

 

Be sure to check out more images at the West 8 website.  We would love to know your opinion?  Does it standup to the original Frank Gehry design?

Transit Miami would like to give Commissioner Sarnoff a shout-out for bringing a free bayfront gym to Coconut Grove. The new exercise equipment at Kennedy Park includes benches, cross-trainers, parallel bars, leg presses, a horizontal ladder and rowing machine. The money came from Sarnoff’s quality-of-life funds and cost $24,500.

This is a great idea; by providing a free gym it should attract more people to use this beautiful park and thereby encouraging a healthier Miami.

According to the article in the Miami Herald, Commissioner Sarnoff got the idea from his trainer, Aida Johnson of Equinox Fitness Club, who helped create a similar program in Chicago. Personal trainers from Equinox, the Downtown Athletic Club, Paradise Gym and 24 Hour Fitness will also be at the park next week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to provide free instruction.  You can find more information about when the trainers will be available here.

Remember: No pain, no gain; get out there and work it! Transit Miami wants Miami looking fabulous.

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Miami is in dire need of park space.  The City was ranked dead last in park and recreation spaces out of 27 medium density cities and we continue to cover our public spaces with buildings and parking lots.  For decades, Miamians have cried out for a showcase park, a “Central Park” for Miami.  Well, there’s an opportunity right under our noses.  The Old Miami Arena site, currently a blighted five acre area of rocks, offers this possibility.  The current owner is open to sell, and there are no other sites in Miami that could offer such radical urban transformation.

Old Arena now

Imagine transforming the entire downtown area by turning this dilapidated parcel into a green, multi-use neighborhood space including community gardens, a nursery, a football field and a bandshell for outdoor performances and events.   With the construction of Museum Park, the City will need to relocate important events such as the Cirque de Soleil, and music events.  Moving them to the old arena site will activate a non-utilized area and create economic opportunities for Overtown residents.   The purchase of this site could also house the “Grand Central Station” for downtown, a perfect location for the upcoming commuter rail and/or Tri-Rail downtown expansion.  Utilizing this site for the public benefit offers the perfect combination of green, public facilities, urban transformation, and quality of life improvement for long suffering residents of the area.

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So how do we pay for this?  Aren’t the City and County undergoing a budget crisis?  Enter the City of Miami Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).  Flush with $50 Million in cash, the CRA is planning on issuing $100 million in revenue bonds in upcoming months, primarily to finance large scale development projects debatable benefits.  Why not use a portion of these bonds to create Miami’s Central Park, which could have major benefits to everyone in the community?

Miami, its time to grow up.  We have the potential to have a world class, pedestrian friendly city if we could efficiently spend public funds for the greater good.  Let’s not miss one of the last opportunities for a “Central Park” in downtown Miami.

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The relatively new pocket park on Flagler Street has seen some recent improvements. The park is very much a 9-5, weekday park, a reflection of Downtown itself, but nonetheless has attracted a lunchtime following.

New improvements include tables and chairs which invite office workers to eat and relax in this urban greenspace. Although I am happy to see the new outdoor furniture, the selection and the placement of the furniture should have been considered more carefully. The furniture is too bulky for such a small urban space. It should be smaller and less intrusive, allowing for additional space to accommodate extra tables and chairs. Also, the furniture should have been placed closer to the trees in order to maximize the shade cover from the hot Miami sun, especially when the umbrellas have not been set up.

Some suggestions for improvement:

  • Art in public spaces. A mural on the east wall would look great.
  • Mesh shade canopy covering a large part of the urban space
  • Better bike racks. The bike racks which were installed are not the preferred bicycle rack design.

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A little public art on this wall would look great

A little public art on this wall would look great

The City of Miami should avoid using these racks. The inverted U racks can accomodate bicycles much better.

The City of Miami should avoid using these racks. The inverted U racks can accomodate bicycles much better.

Even though I was a bit skeptical of this park at first, it is being used more then expected. With a few small improvements, the park can get even more use. The Paul S. Walker Urbanscape proves that these urban parks can work; perhaps this idea could be extended to the Brickell area, where the daytime density already exists to support something similar.

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This past weekend South America’s largest city, São Paulo (est. pop. 19,616,060) inaugurated their first bike lane.  The city striped the first 5km of bike lanes and celebrated the event with their version of Bike Miami Days with an estimated 9,000 bicyclists, skateboarders, pedestrians, and rollerbladers participating in this event.  Going forward, the city of São Paulo will close several streets every Sunday from 7am- 12pm, hoping to attract at least 10,000 participants. The limited street closures will connect three parks within the city, including Parque Ibirapuera, São Paulo’s largest park. If successful, the route will be extended to the University of São Paulo which is already used on the weekends by bicyclists and triathletes as their preferred training ground.

São Paulo lacks green spaces and the few parks that do exist, such as Parque Ibirapuera, are usually filled to capacity on the weekends. Riding a bicycle on the streets of São Paulo is a virtual death wish; I know because I have done it. If a car does not clip you, chances are pretty good that you will get bikejacked.

The Sunday Ciclovia addresses both of these barriers to bicycling in São Paulo. With the increased police presence and partially closed streets, the chances of being hit by a car diminish substantially. Public vigilance is perhaps the best deterrent against crime, with 10,000 extra eyes on the streets, even the most brazen of criminals will think twice about mugging a bicyclist for their wheels.

Hopefully the new bike lanes are just the beginning for São Paulo. The opportunities for outdoor recreation are limited for the city’s inhabbitants, particularly for the poor and the lower middle class. This megacity could certainly use more bike lanes, especially protected bicycle lanes, as traffic and driving etiquette in this city are unlike anything that I have ever experienced.

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The long anticipated South Pointe Park in South Beach was finally unveiled this spring. I have delayed sharing my thoughts because I wanted the park to be “broken in” and discovered by its regular users before venturing out to see it. Well, without a doubt the park was worth waiting for.  Stretching the length of the tip of South Beach and connecting to the lower western waterfront’s pedestrian promenade, South Pointe Park is an undeniable success. Users of all kinds seem to be flocking to the park at all hours to take in its beautiful vistas. Sunbathers enjoy the constructed ridgeline overlooking Government Cut and the cruise ships that pass by, picnickers enjoy the shade trees and well-manicured grass, families bring kids to enjoy the playgrounds, splash pads and fountains, and  exercise fiends traverse the park in droves. Indeed, I altered my daily running route to include the park.

I must admit, however,  I first questioned the lack of formal active playspace (basketball,  tennis courts, soccer etc.), but it seems they aren’t missed. Indeed, the park  balances a fine mix of passive and active use areas, as well as  organic and formal landscaping. Furthermore, the presence of the swank steak house-Smith & Wollensky -seems to further activate the park, especially along the outside bar located on a primary spine of pedestrian activity. Perhaps the park could included another, less formal and inexpensive dining option… then again, you can just bring your own!

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On the opposite end of the spectrum, downtown Miami has reintroduced the Paul S. Walker Urbanscape, a hardscaped mid-block pocket of missed opportunity. Oh, was that too harsh? Maybe,  as the mini park is certainly a vast improvement on the vacant lot that occupied the space previously. Moreover,  I am not aware of all the programming, design and logistics that went into the formulation of this space. However,  why offer a space clearly intended for the lunchtime crowd and not encourage the adjacent restaurant-Viaggios-to freely spill out onto a portion of the plaza with tables, chairs and dining service?  Doing so would have made that or any future restaurant that occupies the space a truly unique setting in downtown. Or perhaps recruit Miami’s best lunch time street vendor and either insert them into the park, or let them hang right outside, as that would  further activate the park beyond the 12-2pm lunchtime crowd. The  landscaping does its best to hide the long blank western side wall, but one imagines even a windows or a door would go a long way.

Beyond that issue, the proportions feel too tight given the building bordering the eastern edge rises high  (unavoidable), and the space still feels sterile despite its somewhat soft edges.  For now, I will withhold any real judgment until a further date, as the urbanscape is brand new so perhaps there will be movable tables and chairs for lunchtime use in the near future.  I sure hope so, as the park’s use  seemed somewhat sparse during the Monday lunch hour  given the amenity such a space ostensibly provides.  In defense of the park, I will say that the attractively designed sliding doors are a nice feature, and functional too, as I am guessing they close this space up at night to prevent vandalism. Smart move.

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** 3/30/09 UPDATE: The New World Symphony happily reports that the park will still be built, regardless of the parking issue. Transit Miami apologizes for misinterpreting the Miami Herald article, which clearly confused the issue by reporting contradictory statements in their own article. TM is planning to meet with the NWS to review the plans further and will share our findings after a review. **

Many Beach dwellers, myself not included, have long awaited the arrival of celebrity ‘star’chitect Frank Gehry’s addition to the New World Symphony, a public-private venture being hailed as a new ‘city center’ for Miami Beach. Clearly intended to raise the NWS’s profile and add to the civic core of Miami Beach, Gehry’s plans also contain a 520 space parking garage and a new 2-acre park.

While I personally question Gehry’s ability to create a dynamic public space, the park is certainly a needed amenity in this portion of Miami Beach. However, according to an article in the Herald yesterday, the rising cost of buliding the garage inspired Miami Beach City Commission to vote 5-2 in favor of changing the development agreement.

The new agreement uses the money devoted to the park to fund the cost over-run on the 520 car garage. What is more, the  designated park space will likely become an additional 175 parking spaces because the City Commission says the NWS is not meeting its parking requirement, which allows the City to pull $6 million dollars worth of public funding out from underneath the Symphony.

In what sane world do we exchange a public good like needed park space for parking? As Commissioner Diaz rightly noted, this is indeed “a travesty.”

Before moving forward with what promises to be an over-designed parking garage, maybe city officials should research where Symphony attendees are traveling from. Do they all require parking spaces? Don’t people tend to enjoy the symphony in groups, which allows for a higher occupancy per vehicle? Won’t a good number of visitors come from the beach as residents or tourists? Why another 700+ spaces? Wouldn’t 520 be enough?

There are a slew of other problems implied in the story, mostly that 700+ parking spaces will only contribute to auto-dependence, congestion, and pollution on Miami Beach. Feel free to vent your frustration in the comments section.

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According to this South Florida Business Journal article, developer Tibor Hollo will lease 2 acres of prime development land to the City of Miami. Located at 1201 Brickell Bay Drive, Hollo will lease the undeveloped bayside lot for the whopping sum of $1 a year. In return, the City will landscape the lot and provide benches for what will be called Hollo Park.

While usable green space is badly needed in Brickell, and Hollo should be commended for what Commissioner Sarnoff calls “thinking outside the box,” I sure hope the developer knows what they are getting themselves into. That is to say, if this park is even remotely successful and enjoyed by Brickell’s growing number of residents, it could become a political battle once the development market returns and Hollo moves to make Hollo Park “Hollo on The Bay,” or “Hollo Haven.”
View Larger Map

Thanks to Kathryn Moore for the tip.

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Today, Tuesday, December 2, 2008 at 11:00 AM, is the groundbreaking ceremony for Paul Walker Park in downtown Miami (46 West Flagler Street.)

From the city of Miami:

The park in the heart of Miami is being resurrected in the same site where it stood 15 years ago. “Bringing the Paul S. Walker Park back to life was my first initiative as commissioner. I’m very proud to see the hard work of so many people lead to what will soon be an oasis for the public to enjoy,” says Commissioner Sarnoff.

The park will be approximately 4200 SQ.FT. and will serve the downtown office crowd and tourists during daytime hours. The $284,993 cost is coming from DDA funds and a Homeland Defense Neighborhood Improvement Bond issued to Commissioner Sarnoff through District 2.

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