Miami Takes the Long-Range View

February 28, 2013, Department, by Amy Kapp

Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation, and Open Spaces plans to revitalize its inactive community with a master plan geared toward revamping the physical layout of the city. Photo: Bruce Wayne StanleyMany urban areas were not designed with an eye for encouraging recreation and fitness. Indeed, this issue is inherent in much of the infrastructure in the U.S., creating significant barriers to park access and utilization.

The Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation, and Open Spaces Department is developing a Parks and Open Space Master Plan to reduce park inequity and increase physical activity. The 50-year vision seeks to reduce both current and future barriers to health and develop a comprehensive framework for a more livable county. Miami-Dade County estimates an 80-percent increase in population by 2060—from 2.5 million to approximately 4.5 million people.

The plan follows principles for equity, beauty, access, sustainability, and seamlessness. The goal is to create a connected system of open spaces that encourage walking and incidental exercise, including parks, natural areas, and cultural amenities that are linked by greenways and blueways, streets, bike paths, and trails. Along with the plan, the county updated its urban design manuals to further promote physical activity.

The park and recreation department is focusing efforts on neighborhoods with the greatest overall disparities in health and park access. An extensive analysis was conducted to identify underserved areas for the formulation of policies and acquisition plans. The ultimate vision is for each resident to be able to access a park within one-quarter mile of where they live.

Due in part to the plan, Miami was one of only 12 metro areas in the country selected for the Red Fields to Green Fields program. The national research effort analyzes the effects of acquiring financially distressed properties and converting them to public parks and land banked for future sustainable development.

To develop and implement the Parks and Open Space Master Plan, the Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation, and Open Spaces Department is supported by the Miami-Dade Health Department and a variety of other agencies. The partners hope their activities will help address current and future gaps in recreation programs and facilities in the county and lead to a healthier, more active, and more sustainable future.

Amy Kappis a freelance writer in Northern Virginia (