The Biscayne Times

Jul 03rd
Allapattah’s Place to Be PDF Print E-mail
Written by Janet Goodman, BT Contributor   
January 2020

Juan Pablo Duarte Park is enjoyed by many

AParkPatrol_1ccording to the Trust for Public Land’s Parkscore map of Miami, the Allapattah section north of Jackson Memorial Hospital is one of the city’s most underserved areas. Any green park space here is much needed and therefore revered, or at least well used by residents.

The beautiful 9.2-acre Juan Pablo Duarte Park at NW 17th Avenue and NW 28th Street in Little Santo Domingo serves 10,068 people in the community who live within a ten-minute walk of the park. This is 25 percent of Allapattah’s total population of 42,000 -- a very large number compared to other parks in other sections of Miami. The good news is that these neighbors get out of their homes and really put the park’s amenities and activities to daily use.

Sometimes still referred to by locals as Comstock Park because of nearby Comstock Elementary School, Juan Pablo Duarte Park is named in honor of one of the founding fathers of the Dominican Republic. Duarte was an activist, military leader, and politician who helped lead the fight for independence from Haiti in 1844. A bust of his likeness is among three sculptures protected in a small pavilion at the main entrance of the park.

ParkPatrol_2Parking is available in a large lot in front of the community center, which offers two activity rooms, staff offices, and indoor/outdoor access to bathrooms and water fountains, and is decorated on three of its of four sides with colorful painted murals. On a late November visit to the park, the BT walked through the community center and onto a big open green lawn that had benches. Picnic tables and barbecue grills were lined up in the shade along its NW 17th Avenue perimeter.

Exercise is encouraged at the park. On a concrete pad behind the statue pavilion, a free ladies’ weightlifting boot camp was in full swing, and children were taking part in an impromptu game of dodgeball. Nearby, other kids and their parents were using the adult fitness zone equipment. Concrete footpaths wind throughout the park, taking visitors to the many amenities or just providing a route for joggers and walkers with their Fitbit watches measuring their progress. In two areas where footpaths bisect the deep but narrow water retention swale that travels the width of the park, quaint wooden footbridges allow visitors to safely cross and stay dry.

ParkPatrol_3Four pet waste stations are conveniently located in this park for dog walkers, although only half of the stations were stocked with plastic bags. Trees, on the other hand, are plentiful and mature. Native oak and gumbo limbo, as well as poinciana, ficus, and palms provide beauty and shade. The lawns are well maintained by the city, as is the landscaping, which is enhanced by large limestone boulders. There are ample garbage receptacles, but most are utilitarian and unattractive rather than outdoor park-style ones.

Other park weaknesses include the outdoor double basketball court and metal bleachers. The flooring badly needs resurfacing and is shown little respect by players and spectators who discard litter there. The large children’s playground is built on rubber safety flooring and boasts an impressive seven slides but has only one very small overhead canvas shade; two other shades are missing from their skeletal support structures.

ParkPatrol_4Organized sports are played in the southern section of the park. To the east of the old basketball court is a baseball field, and to its south is a new soccer facility. The baseball diamond includes covered team dugouts and metal bleachers, of which one set is shaded and the other is missing its cover.

Two fenced soccer practice fields are entirely surfaced with artificial turf, with freshly painted white lines. These were old, recently converted tennis courts and are the current shining star addition to Duarte Park.

For visitors and athletes, there is a conveniently located bathroom building with outdoor water fountains. All of the fencing in the team sport complex is chain-link. Perimeter property fencing is an attractive green metal park fence.

During the hot summer months, a splash pad gives a fun but safe, zero-depth water relief to neighborhood kids. Currently the fountains are shut off and the splash pad is not in use. Summer is time for organized youth camps at the park; spring and winter camps are also held. Special events come to the park throughout the year, such as the upcoming Carnaval Dominicano Miami on February 21.

ParkPatrol_5Three gated picnic pavilions are grouped together in the north section of the park and are kept locked when not in use. One sports the banner “Club de Domino Juan Pablo Duarte Park” and has several domino tables set up, while the others have picnic tables. These pavilions and other amenities in the park are available for party and event rentals that must be applied for in advance with the City of Miami.

In recent years, rising rents in the Wynwood neighborhood east of Allapattah have made Allapattah an up-and-coming, quickly gentrifying neighborhood, according to a number of news reports, including the BT (see “Old Neighborhood, New Look,” May 2019). Art galleries and retail shops are popping up in the mostly industrial area, and developers are buying up properties. The Rubell family of art collectors recently moved their vast collection from Wynwood to Allapattah (see “Wynwood’s Cautionary Tale,” December 2019).

One developer noted that square-footage costs for commercial space in Allapattah rose from $58 in 2014 to $275 in 2018. This public eye on Little Santo Domingo -- perhaps the only silver lining to gentrification -- should help Juan Pablo Duarte Park earn a needed makeover of its basketball courts and various other essentials, which if done, would earn this park a five-tree review.


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Juan Pablo Duarte Park
1776 NW 28th St.
Miami, FL 33142

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

Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Picnic tables: Yes
Barbecues: Yes
Picnic pavilions: Yes
Tennis courts: No
Athletic fields: Yes
Night lighting: Yes
Splash pad: Yes
Playground: Yes


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