The Biscayne Times

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Aug 17th
Oasis of Amenities PDF Print E-mail
Written by Janet Goodman, BT Contributor   
August 2018

Margaret Pace Park has a view and much more 

BParkPatrol_1etween Biscayne Bay and a recent flurry of “hot” luxury condo construction in the Omni/Edgewater neighborhood of Miami is a valuable slice of real estate that will never be developed: Margaret Pace Park.

This eight-acre oasis, located at 1745 N. Bayshore Dr., boasts 1500 feet of waterfront and a slew of amenities that keep area residents returning. Tennis, basketball, and beach volleyball courts, picnic spots, a children’s playground, a bay walk, exercise equipment, and a long-needed fenced-in dog park are thoughtfully designed without obstructing large open greenspaces, allowing in breezes and viewing out over Biscayne Bay, east toward Miami Beach.

On the park’s southern border is the historic Miami Woman’s Club building, whose vice president in the 1950s -- Margaret Pace -- led the lawsuit to stop dredging land from the bay for private development next door. The City of Miami purchased this land for $209,000 in 1966 to create Coral Park, later named Margaret Pace Park.

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A major $4 million overhaul of the park took place in 2003. In 2014, due to massive construction projects bringing new condominium towers nearby, the Omni Community Redevelopment Agency (Omni CRA) provided $4 million in funds to reconstruct North Bayshore Drive. New sidewalks, streetlights, and land- and streetscaping improved the route from the towers to the park. (Quantum on the Bay, Bay Parc, Opera Tower, Paramount Bay, and the Doubletree Grand are some of the area’s high-rises.)

That same year, $470,000 of Omni CRA funding improved the park’s playground with new fencing, shade structures, and a Pour-in-Place safety floor surface, and paid for improvements in the adult Vita course exercise equipment area. By 2015, the much-anticipated fenced dog park was designed and constructed with $400,000 of Omni CRA money.

There are multiple entrances to Margaret Pace Park, including the main plaza steps on N. Bayshore Drive near the restroom building. In 2017 an art piece titled Ara Pacis, meaning Altar of Peace, was erected here. Colombian sculptor William Botero donated the installation made from bronze alloy castings of nearly 8000 bullet casings collected from around the world as a tribute to victims of gun violence.

Other park sculptures provide photo opportunities and inspiration: three striking thrones designed by students from the New World School of the Arts with assistance from elders representing Miami’s Jewish, Hispanic, and African-American heritages.

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Park amenities are connected by concrete footpaths that flow into the long scenic bay walk. Sabal and coconut palms, and sea grape are numerous, with occasional flowering trees, such as royal poinciana and silk floss. Grass and landscaping were neatly maintained when the BT visited in late June.

Picnic areas with tables and grills are stationed along perimeters but never block the water view, making for some relaxing lunches. King tides and bay surges are deterred from coming through the park by its built-up elevation.

According to Stephanie Severino, City of Miami deputy director of the Office of Communications, there are no plans to build a seawall at the park; only coral limestone boulders along the shoreline provide some barrier to the bay. In an e-mail exchange with the BT, Severino notes that the park lost several trees during Hurricane Irma and several more trees had to be righted and braced. Lighting fixtures suffered some other wind damage. The only park repairs now slated will be to existing sidewalks.

In recent years, a lot of media attention had been given to the need for a fenced-in dog section at Margaret Pace Park, which will celebrate its three-year anniversary this September.

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Tensions grew when parkgoers who had protested off-leash dogs and their unattended excrement were pitted against local dog owners who wanted their pets to run and exercise unfettered. The Biscayne Neighborhoods Association (BNA), a civic advocacy group, fought for policing of the park, and downtown police enforced leash laws by issuing about 40 citations at $50 a pop, to violating dog owners.

A dog running loose in the park was stabbed by a frustrated park visitor, while other people were harassed after telling dog owners to leash up. A petition drive garnered more than 400 signatures of those locals endorsing a fenced-in dog section as a solution to the issue.

The dog park is approximately one-half acre in size, divided into separate small- and large-dog sections. Each section has two pet waste stations (there are now ten stations throughout the park), a human/canine water fountain, and benches. Young oak trees with rubberized and glued-in mulch will someday provide shade, and doggie fire hydrants are popular marking spots.

A metal stylized dog sculpture named Pacer stands guard in the large dog section. What’s different here from other dog parks is the artificial turf surfacing of the entire 20,000 square feet. A SYNLawn Pet Premium grass was selected and has held up nicely. It is easy to maintain and heat resistant, and rainwater drains quickly.

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Edgewater resident Otis Mallry comes to the park every day with his ten-year-old Shih Tzu, Jazz. He used to live in South Beach and take his dog to Flamingo Park but prefers Margaret Pace Park. “I like the artificial turf here because it never gets flooded or even just muddy,” says Mallry.

Samantha Tini lives several blocks away and enjoys bringing her 18-month-old male terrier-mix, Kumo, to the park but would rather have natural grass for her dog. She says she often has trouble finding a parking space near the park.

Mallry notes that on-street paid parking is discounted for Miami residents, but you need to call the posted Miami Parking Authority number to register. Lack of parking in the vicinity is Margaret Pace Park’s biggest downside.

This reviewer had to travel blocks away to find a spot in the Publix free parking garage on Biscayne Boulevard. But nearby residents who visit the park can simply walk there. It would have been a shame if the city ate up some of this precious greenery just for vehicles.

 

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Park_map

Margaret Pace Park


1745 N. Bayshore Dr.
Miami, FL 33132
305-350-7938

 


Park Rating

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


Hours: 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Picnic Tables: Yes
Barbecues: Yes
Picnic pavilions: No
Tennis Courts: Yes
Basketball court: Yes
Night lighting: Yes
Fenced-in dog park: Yes
Playground: Yes

 

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