The Biscayne Times

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Nov 20th
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Written by Janet Goodman, BT Contributor   
November 2018

Arthur Woodard Park is finally official

ParkPatrol_1For decades a privately owned greenspace located four blocks west of I-95 in the Twin Lakes/Pinewood community of Miami was utilized by local families for picnics and sports activities. This past August 10, the parcel was dedicated as the latest Miami-Dade County park.

Named Arthur Woodard Park in honor of the late coach, teacher, principal, and civic activist, this peaceful place, located on a modest residential street on the north lake of Twin Lakes, was acquired by Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation, and Open Spaces Department in two installments: the first 2.2 acres in April 2015, followed by an additional 1.49 acres in February 2017, for a total of 3.69 acres.

Both parcels were acquired from the Miami-Dade Public Housing and Community Development Department.

Park visitors are now enjoying numerous recent improvements, such as bolted, split-rail, pine wood fencing; the planting of 30 red-mulched and braced shade trees, of which the majority are native oaks; three green metal benches and matching garbage receptacles; bike racks; and a meandering concrete walkway that makes the park handicapped-accessible for the first time. The wood fencing runs parallel to the main street and prevents vehicles from driving up onto the greenspace.

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Even though the park is located less than a block away from Faith Deliverance Cathedral of Miami, the street is a quiet one, off the beaten path.

One of the newly planted oaks has died and is marked for removal. The county erected one park entrance sign and installed a park rules sign at both the east and west entrances. Numerous rules note, among other things, that no dogs are allowed on the park grounds. Lush cattails along the lake banks provide a safe haven for wildlife, as will the young leafy trees in a few years, making this park even more nature friendly.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestime sponsored the county resolution for naming the park. At the dedication ceremony this summer, Monestime said, “I applaud the Parks Department for their great work in bringing this much-needed park development to fruition. Arthur Woodard Park stands as a living legacy to beloved educator and civic leader Dr. Woodard, and is a vibrant recreational space where neighbors and their children can gather for generations to come.”

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Arthur Woodard’s obituary in the Miami Herald notes that he personally started to maintain the neglected property at 1220 NW 99th St. in 1969, and that he lived in this neighborhood just north of North Shore Medical Center with his family for 46 years. Although it wasn’t a publicly funded park at the time, Woodard made it a family spot for cookouts and sports, with the dream that it would one day become an official county park.

In 1997 that dream was nearly dashed by the sale of the property to developers with the aim to build homes, but that plan never occurred. Sadly, Woodard passed away in 2014 at age 86, before he saw his public park realized.

According to the Herald, Woodard had a long career as an educator. At Tivoli High School in the Florida panhandle town of DeFuniak Springs, he was head coach of football, basketball, baseball, and track. He was named Coach of the Year in 1962-63 and was inducted into the Florida High School Athletics Association Hall of Fame in 2008.

Woodard moved to Miami in 1968, worked as a physical education teacher at Allapattah Elementary School, assistant football coach and athletic director at Miami Central High School, earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in education administration, became assistant principal at Miami Edison, and principal of Miami Douglas MacArthur North Senior High School, from which he retired in 1991.

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Woodward is a member of Florida A&M University’s Sports Hall of Fame and was a president of the school’s Miami-Dade chapter of the alumni association. As a civic leader, he was a board member of the Dade County Office of Community Development and president of the Model Cities Optimist Club.

The importance of this neighborhood park is highlighted by the fact that there are no other parks in the community. The closest parks are Little River Park at NW 24th Avenue (1.7 miles away), Arcola Lakes Park at NW 83rd Street (1.6 miles away), Gratigny Plateau Park at NW 117th Street (1.5 miles away), and Arcola Park at NW 87th Street (1.4 miles away).

On a BT visit at the end of September, the grass needed mowing, and litter was scattered about, but mostly accumulated by benches and in front of the park along the sidewalk on NW 99th Street, where cars are parked. Pizza boxes, fast-food packaging, and plastic bottles seemed left behind by those driving up for lunch. A couple of strategically placed garbage receptacles are needed in front of the entrances; and picnic tables would be ideal. A water fountain, barbecue grill, and some lighting would be welcome additions, as well.

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But a visitor with a keen eye can see the potential for this greenspace, as Dr. Woodard surely did for nearly half a century. This place is a work in progress. And over the next several years, the community will undoubtedly see more of his vision realized.

According to the county, exciting improvements are in store for Arthur Woodard Park. In an e-mail exchange with the BT, Laura Phillips, the information officer for Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation, and Open Spaces Department, writes: “Phase 1 development includes access control, walkways, a shelter, and landscaping improvements. The development for phase 1 is currently scheduled to commence in late February 2019, and funding will be provided by the Building Better Communities General Obligation Bond Program and Impact Fees.”

Phillips goes on to announce future improvement plans beyond 2019 for a community art area, fitness equipment, and some additional shelters.

 

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Park_map

Arthur Woodard Park


1220 NW 99th St.
Miami, FL 33147
305-755-7842

 


Park Rating
palm-1 palm-1 palm-1 palm-05 palm-0


Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Picnic Tables: No
Barbecues: No
Picnic pavilions: No
Sports field: Yes
Lakeside ambiance: Yes
Night lighting: No
Swimming pool: No
Playground: No

 

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