About West Side of Matheson
Parks are a balance of features and elements that represent the multiple needs of the community and allow the safe enjoyment by everyone. West Matheson is an approximately 109-acre portion of Matheson Hammock Park with nearly 90% designated as a Natural Forrest Community and Environmentally Endangered Land. Matheson Hammock Park is a Metropolitan and a Heritage Park recognized by the County for its historical significance as its first park. As described in the County’s Comprehensive Development Master Plan and Park and Open Space Master Plan, the service area for Metropolitan Parks is countywide, affording and encouraging access and usage by all 2.8 million residents and visitors to Miami-Dade County. Therefore, access to metropolitan parks take place from major roadways, not small neighborhood roads.
With this in mind, Miami-Dade County is moving forward with the implementation of the masterplan for the west side of Matheson Hammock Park that reflects and balances the desires and safety of parks users from an array of backgrounds, age groups and interests. The elements of the masterplan include:
- Repairs to the Old Cutler Road parking lot and hardwood hammock nature trail (at the request of the community to enjoy the cooler weather, the construction of the project is estimated to start the Spring of 2022 and to finish by the Summer of 2022)
- Open play areas for children and families (the Old Cutler Road parking lot and hardwood hammock nature trail will provide access to the open areas for families to enjoy picnics and for children to explore the outdoors)
- Restoration of the native habitat as a botanical garden (estimated to start the Spring of 2021)
- Nature trails restorations (estimated construction to start the Fall of 2021 and to finish by the Winter of 2022)
- Restoration of the Coral Rock Nursery (grant for the structural assessment of the building has been applied for)
- New crosswalk with beacon and sidewalk connecting east and west side of Old Cutler Road
Additionally, a park ranger on a golf cart will provide residents who need assistance with transportation into the park.
Miami-Dade County is surveying the natural areas at West Matheson. You might have seen some of the stakes/markers that are part of this effort and the upcoming parking lot and nature trail boardwalk improvement project. The County has the responsibility to ensure for the safety of the community and ensure that all its construction sites are safely secured. The County also has the responsibility to protect environmentally sensitive lands, making fencing around the construction site not feasible without impacting the protected lands. Therefore, access will be restricted, and West Matheson will be closed temporarily to visitors during the 90 day construction phase.
Completion / Future improvements
This project will improve the Old Cutler Road parking lot and nature trail to enhance parking and access for the entire community. This will serve as the permanent entrance to the park. The parking lot will have permeable pavers and provide a safer and more inviting arrival point into West Matheson. The nature trail will be ADA-compliant and feature an elevated boardwalk withing the existing footprint of the trail, through the Natural Forest Communities and Environmentally Endangered Lands. These improvements focus on resiliency, habitat protection and education with interpretive signage describing the history of the park and its status as a premier trail for birding and other wildlife observation, in one of the last remaining pristine hardwood hammocks in Miami-Dade County. The trail will provide full access to all the park’s amenities – nature habitats, open areas for families to enjoy picnics and for children to explore the outdoors and recreational features.
Future improvements will include restoration of the park’s historic Coral Rock Nursey to provide eco-educational programs for children and adults, the development of subsequent trails and paths throughout the park for hikers, joggers, and cyclists of all ages, as well as a safe pedestrian crossing on Old Cutler Road connecting the east and west areas of Matheson Hammock Park.