The Miami Foundation announced the Public Space Challenge finalists yesterday, and we’ve been hearing and seeing a lot of discussion among The New Tropic community about what’s next for improving Miami’s livability through public spaces. Join us on a deeper data dive into some of Miami’s most important public spaces — parks.
How do our parks stack up to those in other cities?
The Trust For Public Land’s 2014 City Parks Report shows how Miami lags behind other high-density cities in the parkland we provide per 1,000 residents.
On the positive side, most Miami residents have walkable access to parks, but our parks aren’t as accessible as those in many other high-density cities.
Still, the data may not tell the whole story, as The New Tropic reader and reporter Daniel Rivero points out in this story he wrote for WLRN based on the 2013 parks report. Miami’s largest park, Virginia Key Beach Park, is also its least accessible to Miami residents, Rivero found.
We also spend less on parks than many cities, but we’re right at the median spending level for all the cities in the study.
What about the rest of the county?
While the report rightly points out that Miami residents have far fewer acres of parkland per resident than many cities of comparable density, the comparison may be a bit lacking when we take into account the broader county. When you look at how parks are distributed in Miami-Dade county, many of our urban park lands are concentrated around the beach, which is definitely outside the City of Miami. The biggest county or municipal park in the area, Crandon Park on Key Biscayne, adds 962 acres of fairly accessible park space. (While we didn’t include state or national parks in this map, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park adds more than 431 acres of nearby park land, and Oleta River State Park adds an extra 1,032 acres.)
The access and usability issues are harder to gauge from this data alone. The data includes some private clubs in its “Special Use” and “Special Activity” categories for parks, and some natural areas or mini-parks, while public, may lack amenities that make these spaces usable.
If we consider the county as a whole, our park land per 1,000 residents ratios looks better. While we can’t replicate the exact methodology of the City Parks Report, using Miami-Dade County GIS data and the latest population estimates from the U.S. Census American Community Survey, we found that Miami-Dade County residents have more county and municipal park space overall. (Note, we did not include federal or state park lands in this analysis, which would likely further improve the county’s numbers.)
What can you do?
Get involved: Volunteer with, donate to, or become a member of a park or a park advocacy group. Some local options include: The Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade, South Florida National Parks Trust, Friends of Oleta River State Park. You can also get a group of friends or co-workers together to participate in the Adopt-A-Park program in Miami-Dade county or in your municipality.
Vote: Elections are right around the corner in Miami. Take a minute to find out your candidates’ positions on parks issues, land use, and parks funding.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to include a WLRN report on Miami parks accessibility and a disclaimer about accessibility and access issues in some lands that county data shows as parks.