Miami Dade County unveiled its 50 year parks Masterplan last Friday at the Second Great Park Summit held at Fairchild Botanical Garden. For a place that is too often known for its reactionary planning, this plan is really progressive and forward thinking. Green street corridors, a continuous green belt, and an interconnected network of neighborhood and urban parks place the plan in the company of Olmstead’s Emerald Necklace in Boston and Burnam’s Chicago plan.

The Summit bought together parks departments from all around Dade County, as well as Mayor Alvarez and members of the County Commission. Conspicuously absent were high level members of the City of Miami, South Miami, and Coral Gables to name a few. Considering all the land the County Parks Masterplan encompasses, it’s important for all municipalities to support each other and work toward the same goals. Specifially, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz should have been present, considering his stated commitment toward making Miami a ‘green’ city and improving the tree canopy.

Overall, the plan aims to take one of the largest parks systems in the country into the 21st century by rethinking what open space is and how we use it. Not only are parks considered places of passive or active use, but as common civic space that should be available to all. The highlight of the Summit was the keynote speech by former Bogota Mayor Enrique Penalosa who gave a great presentation about how we should choose to plan and use our open spaces (parks AND sidewalks) as places of social equality and where the daily drama of life really takes place. His advocacy of public spaces in Bogotá, from extensive bike paths, to a former country club turned public park is inspiring. He closed his presentation with the thought that “Public good must prevail over private interest.” How’s that for progressive?

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