The Inaugural Green Issue  |  February 28, 2017
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the inaugural green issue 

Welcome to our first [albeit unplanned!] Green Issue. In the past ten days, there has been so much discussion centering on Miami Beach parks we thought they deserved their own issue.
And Tuesday? Because… Tuesday!

alton road tree canopy

here today, gone tomorrow?

One particularly timely “green” discussion, while not parks related, involves the fate of the tree canopy on Alton Road between Michigan Avenue and 63rd Street. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will begin reconstruction of that stretch of road in 2020. The City has requested FDOT raise the roads to 3.7 feet NAVD (which, in this case, is 1.5 to 2.0 feet above the existing roadway) in accordance with its Storm Water Management Plan. At the same time, Miami Beach officials asked FDOT to preserve all of the existing canopy trees.
Now in the late phases of design, FDOT has indicated that elevating the road will impact many of the trees along the roadway and they have asked for guidance on how to proceed. In a memo to Miami Beach Commissioners, City Manager Jimmy Morales says the two options are to save all of the existing trees “to the maximum extent practicable to include not raising Alton Road” or raise the road “at all costs, regardless of the impact to trees.” He notes, “Due to the overhead power lines, replacement trees of similar type may not be allowed to be replanted in the location of where the large canopy trees existed.” City Commissioners will consider the options at their meeting tomorrow. If you’d like to send an email with your thoughts, you will find addresses for the Commissioners here

and, now, for the main attraction

parks and rec: miami beach style

brittany bay park

Area residents got their first glimpse at plans for a living seawall in Brittany Bay Park (6300 Indian Creek Drive) that will increase resiliency, provide for a robust and diverse natural habitat, and create educational/observation areas for the community. The seawall at each end of the park will be rehabilitated and capped, but in the middle, the wall will be brought into the park, creating a new wetland habitat over the old seawall with observation areas. Betsy Wheaton, the City’s Environment and Sustainability Director (now Chief of Staff to the Mayor), said the City plans to protect existing mangroves and create a mangrove habitat. Some trees may need to be removed, she said, but the goal is to keep the canopy and relocate old trees or plant new ones. (No, the orange ribbons around almost all of the trees do not indicate planned removal! They are part of a tree survey conducted in the park.) The proposal will be presented to the Design Review Board at its March 7th meeting. You may comment at the meeting or send comments to Lauren Firtel.

north shore open space park

revised plans reflect community input

After some controversy and a lot of public input, plans for a redesign of the North Shore Open Space Park are moving forward. Designers presented a Commission Committee with plans for the Park's shade canopy and discussed adjustments to proposed lighting, location of the new playground and type of equipment, and the fencing along Collins Avenue. 
full article >

collins park rotunda

could it reopen to the public?

The unique Rotunda in Collins Park has been closed off to the public for the past 8 years but City Commissioners are discussing options for reopening it.
full article >

north shore skate park

One of the recommendations of the North Beach Master Plan was to create a skate park (or all-wheels park). While in the early stages of discussion, the focus currently is on using the 72nd Street surface parking lot as an area that could accommodate a parking garage, retail and/or office space, and a skate park. One of the challenges may be the location of a major sewer line under the lot that would need to remain accessible for any future repairs. A utility study is now underway to determine what can best be built on the site without additional large costs of moving major utility services. At its meeting last week, members of the North Beach Master Plan Steering Committee expressed their desire for the skate park to be located on the 72nd Street lot due to its location within a “sports corridor” with the adjacent North Shore Park and Youth Center ball fields and tennis courts and the soon-to-be completed kayak launch at 73rd and Dickens. Another potential option if the lot cannot accommodate the park is to use the West Lots on Collins Avenue.

belle isle playground

A temporary (but maybe permanent) playground will be located on Belle Isle during the closure of the Maurice Gibb Park for reconstruction. The community is invited to participate in a discussion of design options:
Belle Isle Park Playground Community Charrette #2
Wednesday, March 8th at 7 pm
Miami Beach Golf Club
2301 Alton Road

mini green spaces

While not officially considered “parks”, two small green spaces may transform from empty, utilitarian areas into places residents can enjoy.
Pocket “Park”, 20th & Alton: This area was most recently used as a staging area for a construction project.  It is now a vacant lot being considered for a playground with walkways, fencing and a drinking fountain. The Commission’s Finance and Citywide Projects Committee suggested the item be placed into the Capital Budget request for next year. Estimated costs are $677,000 with minimal additional cost to add a smaller area for dogs. Committee Chair, Commissioner Ricky Arriola said, “The neighborhood is ‘under-parked’. There are just not enough parks. This will serve Sunset Islands, lower North Bay Road and part of the Sunset Harbour neighborhood.” The idea was first raised in conjunction with discussion of the temporary closure of Maurice Gibb Park.
Normandy dog “park”: Following a request from Commissioner Micky Steinberg, the City conducted a neighborhood survey on the use of a public space at the corner of Rue Vendome and Biarritz Drive as a dog area on Normandy Isle. City Public Works Director, Eric Carpenter, says 52 people participated, with responses significantly in favor of the idea. The area is a public right-of-way and may need to be used at some point in the future but, Carpenter says, “There is no reason why we shouldn’t utilize that space until we need it.” Both Carpenter and Steinberg say the area is often used as a dumping ground and they believe this is a good way to help keep it clean. The item now goes to the full Commission for consideration.

Kudos to City Commissioners and staff for being creative in utilizing these open areas!

additional park projects

You’ve probably seen the construction activity in many other parks. Here’s a list of planned and underway projects. Links include more details, renderings and contact info if you’d like to receive additional information or make comments.
North Beach:
Allison Park (6500 Collins Ave): Underway. When finished, this will be the City’s first ADA accessible playground. It will include fixed seating, fitness equipment and an artificial wood crossing over the dunes. Completion anticipated Summer 2017. Details.

Altos del Mar (7701 Collins Ave): Design phase. Plans include beach access, new sand volleyball courts, multi-use pathway, LED lighting, future ADA playground, new bike racks, new restroom facilities, eco-friendly landscaping and irrigation. Details.

Kayak Launch (West of Dickens, on the waterway, north of 73rd Street): Underway. New Kayak launch includes ADA compliant approach platform, gangway, and pile-anchored floating dock. Completion anticipated Spring 2017. Details.

Middle Beach:
Alexander Muss Park Pavilion (4400 Chase Avenue): Underway. Project includes demolition of old pavilion (approximately 2,000 sf) and construction of new 4,000 sf pavilion to accommodate approximately 120 children. The new pavilion will be ADA compliant and will include restrooms, storage, a warming kitchen, office space, and reception area. All existing green space will be maintained. The park is now closed until its anticipated completion in August 2017. Details.

Future Community Park, former Par 3 Park (Bounded by Prairie Avenue, W. 28th Street, and Pine Tree Drive): Planning phase. An ambitious park with lots of green space, a lake, and recreation areas to “enhance the community’s cultural/ecological habitat.” Really, just plain cool. Take a look.
Info and Plans.

Maurice Gibb Park Redesign (Sunset Harbour adjacent to Biscayne Bay, on the west side of Purdy Avenue between 18th Street and the Venetian Causeway): Planning phase. Project includes soil and groundwater assessment and remediation, re-grading, new plants, playground structure, picnic pavilions, fitness circuit and walkways with lighting. (We can debate if this is South Beach or Mid-Beach, but the folks at the Office of Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) say it’s Mid-Beach… surprised us!) Details.

South Beach:
South Pointe Park Water Feature Renovation (Entrance to South Pointe Park, at the south end of Washington Avenue): Underway. Water fountains and water cannons (as misting stations), replacement of pavers, lights will be installed on both sides of the plaza. Anticipated completion Spring 2017. Details.

Flamingo Park (Between Alton Road and Meridian Avenue, south limit is 11th Street and the north limit is near Española Way): Multi-phase project underway. Details.

If you’ve made it this far… let us know what you think of the Green Issue. We think we’ll do it again next month. Topic TBD.
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