Building community, city parks in South Miami

Building community, city parks in South Miami


Carl Williams, Assistant Director for the City of South Miami’s Parks and Recreation Department, has a vision for the future of the venues he helps to manage.

Carl, along with Parks Director, Lorenzo Woodley, has initiated something of a renaissance designed to enhance services and increase participation in the city’s system of parks. South Miami boasts 11 parks and a Senior Center within its 2.3 square miles of land — everything from the small Jean Willis (flowering tree) Park to larger passive affairs, such as the All-America Park, to the bustling Murray Park that features the city’s Bethel- Gibson Community Center.

Carl is focusing his attention on educational programming for both body and mind. In addition to the successful and long-standing After School Program (at Murrary Park), a new program, FCAT and EOC (End of Course) Review tutoring classes are being offered. The city has partnered with WILL TUTOR U, LLC to support academic success for students in grades 3 through 11. Beginning January 30th and ending April 13th, the program will concentrate on reading, mathematics, algebra and geometry. The cost is $100 for nine sessions and parents are encouraged to contact Carl to pre-register their children.

Speaking of the FCAT and EOC tutoring, Carl said, “I want this to be a mainstay of our city to provide another step in educating youth.”

Another new program on the scene is VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) which provides free, confidential community tax preparation service operated by IRS certified volunteers. An initiative of the IRS, VITA offers tax help to people who make $55,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns for electronic filing. The volunteers can inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. VITA, like the test tutoring service is available at the Gibson-Bethel Center.

At the top of Carl’s list of goals is the revitalization of the city’s computer laboratory in the Community Center. The plan is to purchase 18 new computers to provide a reliable resource for those involved in tutoring and other programs.

Other activities include yoga, a Red Ribbon “Say No” to drugs week, spelling bee, breast cancer awareness month, Hispanic Heritage month, Black History month, Earth Day and the “Live Well and Play Day.” Live Well and Play Day will take place March 23rd and will feature activities focused on making healthy choices and include free health screenings.

Carl Williams is driven to make the city’s parks known for their services. His professional background includes employment with Miami-Dade County Parks, and the City of Miami Gardens where he was the Recreation Superintendent for 17 parks in the city’s system. He is a graduate of FAMU and he received his master’s degree in Sports Management from FIU.

Alex Almazan is the volunteer Director of the Parks and Recreation Board for the City of South Miami. He believes that employees who work as diligently and successfully as Carl deserve to get the credit.

“Carl is working to make the parks a major community benefit,” said Almazan.

That’s as it should be. Ideally, urban parks foster a sense of place and serve as an arena of civic engagement. By bringing people together through education, sports and events, Carl Williams is well on the way to strengthening the bonds of the South Miami community.

FMI, contact Carl Williams at 305-668- 7232.

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