What Does it Take to Create a Park?

Coral Gables now has 29 Parks Thanks to the Addition This Year of the Betsy Adams Coral Gables Garden Club Park at the Intersection of Alhambra and Mercado. Just What Does it Take to Create a new Park and Have it Named After You? We Inquired

By Mike Clary

June 2018


When Betsy and Larry Adams raised three sons on Mendavia Avenue, their home’s ample yard became the neighborhood playground. On its lawns were swings and a tree house, room to play soccer, a basketball court, even a small baseball diamond. Over the years, Betsy welcomed dozens of youngsters, made them countless pitchers of lemonade, and went on to become a civic activist. “I loved every minute of it,” says Adams, 89, a Coral Gables resident for 58 years. 

The neighborhood park dedicated to her name March 17 is just a fly ball away from her former home. “I had no idea this would happen,” says the North Carolina native. “But I’m grateful for it, I really am.” 


The process to develop a new park and decide its name can take years. Suggestions come from city officials or residents who bring their ideas to the city commission. The next stop is approval by the parks and recreation advisory board. Funds to buy and build typically come from the city’s capital improvement projects budget. 

What became Betsy Adams Park traces its roots to 2010 when the owner of the only house on the west side of the block asked city officials if they wanted to acquire it. They did. “It was a double lot on a corner, located in an area that did not have a neighborhood park, so it was an attractive property,” recalls parks director Fred Couceyro. The city paid $1 million. 


City officials take nominations on names for a new park.  If it honors an individual, that person must have: made a significant contribution to the quality of life of the city; had a significant historical or cultural connection to the city; and/or had a residence associated with the park. Adams checked all boxes. 

As president of the Garden Club, Adams partnered with the city’s Adopt-an-Entrance Project that in the 1990s raised $1.4 million in cash and in-kind contributions to build Mediterranean-style gateways to the city at Coral Way and Red Road (1991), Miracle Mile and Douglas Road (1997), and Ponce de Leon Boulevard and Southwest 8th Street (2008). Those entrances completed the original plan of city founder George Merrick. 

Adams and the club were also prime movers in commissioning the bronze statues of George Merrick at City Hall, and of his mother, Althea Merrick, at the historic Merrick House on Coral Way.