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Written by Janet Goodman, BT Contributor   
February 2018

Aventura gets it right at Founders Park 

OParkPatrol_1_1ne of the most dazzling public parks in Miami-Dade County is Aventura Founders Park. Dedicated in 1998 and with multiple improvements made over the following two decades, it serves as a model city greenspace to which other South Florida communities can aspire.

The 12-acre park consists of three distinct sections. The main section is referred to as Founders Park and is located north of NE 190th Street. It measures over nine acres and has a large parking lot and a welcome center, where friendly staff check Aventura ID cards. Admission is free for local residents, $5 plus tax for non-resident adults, and $3 plus tax for non-resident kids. No pets are allowed here, but Aventura does have a beautiful space just for dogs on NE 213th Street: Waterways Dog Park.

Visitors can follow the quarter-mile paved walking path that loops around and make stops at four outdoor fitness machine posts at each corner of the park. Within the loop is a huge open space made up of a baseball/softball diamond with shaded bleachers and a soccer field in pristine condition. Sebastian Rugna lives in one of the surrounding condo buildings that overlook the soccer field. He’s a dad who organizes youth soccer practices at Founders, but he would also love to see a basketball court here someday. (Currently, basketball is only offered at Aventura’s Community Recreation Center.) One bench overlooks the playing field -- another could be easily used -- but there is a pavilion with picnic tables nearby.

ParkPatrol_2_1On the west end of the park is a fenced-in tennis complex featuring two clay courts and one hard-surface court. Those interested can register for youth and adult tennis programs. North of the courts is another picnic-tabled pavilion.

Fitness is obviously emphasized in this park, but not to the detriment of the natural environment. The architectural landscape firm O’Leary Richards Design Associates has created a lovely, lush home for rows of royal palms, native oaks, gumbo limbos, and shrubbery that are neatly trimmed by public works.

The park’s western edge is aflutter with families. There is a convenient bathroom building with vending machines and an outdoor café-style eating area. Then there’s the amazing playground, considered one of the best in South Florida by Parenting magazine in 2005.

“You can come and stay all afternoon and parents can safely watch their kids play,” says neighborhood resident Diane Noy. She has three children, ages two, four, and seven. There are actually three playgrounds covering the quarter-acre site, all on rubberized surfaces and under stretched sun shades. Noy points out that her kids are active on the different playgrounds, but because of their smart design and layout, she can easily keep an eye on all three. There is a central pavilion with benches, and along the fenced-in facility’s perimeter are more shaded benches for watchful parents.

ParkPatrol_3_1

Next door is the SplashPad and SunPad section, which opens again for the season in March. This area is free for Aventura residents, but costs $10 in addition to the park’s entrance fee for non-residents. This aquatic park offers zero-depth water features -- a safe alternative to a pool. Noy loves its location adjacent to the playground. “My kids can go back and forth from the SplashPad to the playgrounds. Then we’ll finish the day by riding bikes around the park path.”

With all the activity in this busy area, one would expect some litter, but the attractive metal trash receptacles, plus the “Go Green” recycle bin help to keep the playground clean.

On the opposite side of NE 190th Street is the Founders Park South section -- also known as Founders Park Bayside. Admission for residents and non-residents is free. It has its own parking lot and the two-plus green acres have paved and brick circular foot paths, a lovely view of the canal leading out to Dumfoundling Bay, and a communal garden. The fenced-in Aventura Community Green Garden features dozens of 4-by-12-foot wooden plant boxes, which are rented out to members for $100 a year.

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Additional sustainable design features in the park are the electric vehicle charging station located in the north parking lot (available at no cost to park patrons) and the smart-bike share on NE 190th Street. The Aventura BCycle station has 12 bikes that can be rented for $5 per 30-minute ride, or the first 30 minutes is free for annual BCycle members and only $1 per half-hour after that.

Engineering firm Keith & Schnars, and Cartaya & Associates Architects, along with the landscape firm, have put a lot of thought into the overall coordinated design of Founders Park; it is designed for safety, as well as for beauty and purpose, down to each swale, storm drain, and decorative metal lamp post.

According to Aventura’s Community Services director Kimberly Merchant, there have been many improvements completed at Founders within the past few years. In the north park, the fitness equipment is new, furniture has been replaced, the parking lot and exercise trail were resurfaced, shade structures were added over bleachers, dugout roofs were replaced, new fencing was erected around the clay courts, and new pole padding added in the playground.

ParkPatrol_5_1Water features and surfacing were updated at the SplashPad, and the SunPad was recently installed. The community garden is new, too, as are drinking fountains with bottle refill stations at both the north and south parks. The cost of all these improvements is approximately $620,000 and was funded by the city’s Capital Improvement Program.

But Aventura isn’t stopping there. The city has plans for additional improvements through 2022, such as replacing SunPad furniture; renovating the restrooms; updating features, surfacing, and pumps on the SplashPad; and installing new pole padding at the playgrounds, new roofs on three pavilions, and new benches, tables, and trash cans throughout.

It’s clear that Aventura deeply cares about these 12 acres of public land by designing, carefully maintaining, and investing money in a world-class park like Founders.

 

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Park_map_LittleRiver_1

Aventura Founders Park
3105 NE 190th St.
Aventura, FL 33180
305-466-0183


Park Rating

palm-1palm-1palm-1palm-1palm-0


Hours: 
8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Picnic Tables: Yes
Barbecues: No
Picnic pavilions: Yes
Tennis Courts: Yes
Athletic Fields: Yes
Night lighting: Yes
Water Splash: Yes
Playground: Yes

 

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