"An Association in Action"
Read the latest article on Simpson Park from the Miami Herald.
Downtown Miami's Simpson Park is renovated, back from obscurity
BY LOLA DUFFORT AND ALEXANDRA MARTINEZ
Two years ago, Miami and Audi of America began a joint effort to revitalize downtown's Simpson Park, one of the city's few remaining hammocks.
Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, landscape designer Enzo Enea and Miami-based green architect Chad Oppenheim soon joined the project.
``This is the only park of its kind in Miami. It's home to many indigenous and endangered plants. It's historic,'' said Kathryn Moore, of the Miami's Mayor's Office.
Indeed, it is one of the oldest parks in South Florida. Nearly a century ago, residents asked the city to buy 5.5 acres at 15th Road and South Miami Avenue. In 1914, the city bought the land and called it Jungle Park. In the 1930s, it was named after Dr. Charles Torrey Simpson.
``In recent years, it had fallen into neglect,'' Moore said.
Phase One of the park's renovation was unveiled during last year's Art Basel. That included landscaping and placing a Simpson Park sign on South Miami Avenue.
Last Friday, Carolina Monteiro, head designer of Enzo Enea Landscape Design in Miami, as well as Oppenheim, Sarnoff, Mayor Manny Diaz and Anja Kaehny of Audi celebrated Phase Two of ``re:design Simpson Park'' with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to inaugurate the park's grand opening.
Also in attendance were historian Avra Moore Parks, City Manager Pete Hernandez and head of the city's capital improvement program Ola Aluko.
During Design Miami two years ago, at a dinner at Oppenheim's house, Sandra Novas, a co-owner of the FIINC agency that is in charge of marketing and corporate social responsibility for Audi of America, introduced the idea of revitalizing Simpson Park to Mayor Diaz.
``I lived at the time right up the street by Simpson Park, and I never saw anyone go into the park. I mentioned it in the meeting not thinking it would be taken seriously. And it turned out that the mayor completely adopted the idea since [the park] had been abandoned and even members of the community didn't know how to get into the park,'' Novas said.
Audi of America had already sponsored Design Miami, so helping restore the park -- a ``historic national treasure'' -- ``made sense,'' Novas said.
``It's one of those moments where you get all the right people who did not give up the idea,'' she added. ``We got the team that persevered.''
Oppenheim worked closely with Enea and his team at Enea Landscape Design in Miami on the project. Enea Design was responsible for the park's master plan that included an orchid pavilion, trails, landscaping, signs and more benches.
``We have a very large list of benefactors, people that donated their time, money and efforts. We reached out many individuals throughout the whole process and a lot of them helped in many ways,'' designer Monteiro said.
The Larqcon Group, the project's contractor, worked for free.
Craig Robins, of Dacra, a global real estate development company based in Miami dedicated to the cultivation of creative communities, donated space this summer to hold a fundraiser.
Ines Nastali, a floral designer, donated orchid displays during Phases One and Two.
The project was, for the most part, privately funded -- although government financing was appropriated through federal Homeland Defense Neighborhood Improvement Bonds District 2 Quality of Life.
``It was such a satisfying and fulfilling feeling that something that started as a comment to the mayor can actually become a reality,'' Novas said. ``Those who are frustrated with their local government -- there really is an opportunity to get things done.''
However, the program does not end.
There will be a third phase including educational kiosks in the parks.
``The seed was planted . . . '' Novas said.
Simpson Park Re-design
New entrance to Hammock on October 23rd
Simpson Park’s re-designed new entrance at the corner of 15th Road and SMA will be inaugurated on Friday, October 23rd at 5pm. The Mayor and our District 2 commissioner, Marc Sarnoff, will attend. Neighbors and the general public is welcome.
This beautiful new entrance is the result of a private-public collaborative effort to enhance the public’s access to this beautiful and unique 8.3 acre native hardwood hammock in our neighborhood.
Walk the newly outlined trails, visit the pond, or just relax amid nature. But remember to take identification as it is required to enter the Park.
Please go and enjoy it.
For questions, call the park administrator, Juan Fernandez at 305.856.6801.
Simpson Park is a unique remnant of an extensive sub-tropical jungle once known at Brickell Hammock which extended along Biscayne Bay from the Miami River to Coconut Grove. The Hammock was owned, in part, by William Brickell, an early settler who had a 640 acre tract south of Miami River (excerpt from Simpson Park - Your downtown environment park).
Visit Simpson Park
55 SW 17th Road
Open 7 days a week;
8am to 5pm
Take your I.D.