Facility Profile - November 2007
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Beating the Heat

Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Park in Miami Beach, Fla.

By Emily Tipping

Alan Bayman, president and CEO of Shade Systems Inc., said that the city of Miami Beach has an ongoing commitment to providing shade in public places to protect its residents and visitors from the harmful effects of the sun's UV rays. Other Miami Beach sites, including Muss Park, Palm Island Park and Normandy Isles Pool, also have been updated recently with shade products. But while the city already had been installing shade coverings at a number of facilities, the residents near Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Park had higher expectations, given their park's location at the center of an international tourist destination.

"Once Parks and Rec had the directive, we got in touch with the neighborhood," Prescott said. "Many of the long-term residents had different opinions about whether we should use natural or manmade shade."

She added that they considered their options, and determined that natural shade was not viable due to the many years it would take for the trees to grow and actually provide shade, as well as the difficulty of growing trees in the ocean-side environment, with its sandy soil, salty winds and threat of hurricanes.

"We decided a manmade structure would be necessary," Prescott said. "We came together as a community and designed what our ideal version would be, which is a bit different from the standard sunshades."

Bayman explained that because the neighborhood surrounding the park is such a high-profile area, there was a need for a more aesthetically pleasing solution. Residents and the park district researched a number of options and ultimately selected a custom "sail" system with a nautical theme that blends in well with the surrounding area.

"Because of the proximity to the beach, we wanted something more in keeping with the natural environment," Prescott explained. "Plus, it's in the historic district, which is visited by residents and tourists. It's a very public park, juxtaposed between a mid-rise residential building and a Marriott Hotel, so it called for a special solution."

Kevin Smith, director of Parks and Recreation for the city, credits the community group for working within the system and gaining widespread community consensus, which helped pave the way for a more elaborate shade product than they likely would have received otherwise.

The artfully designed sails cover more than 1,500 square feet in a whimsical pinwheel design that shields children on the playground from up to 99 percent of the sun's UV rays, and keeps the playground much cooler.

"It's fantastic," Prescott said. "We're using the playground a lot more than we normally would this time of year. We never would be there midday in the summer. Now it's still hot, but there's a reprieve from the sun, and the ground doesn't burn the soles of our kids' feet."


City of Miami Beach Parks & Recreation:

Shade Systems Inc.: