medianbad

Brickell Median & Sidewalk Plan Updates

Update January 2014 – Commissioner Sarnoff re-studied and re-evaluated the median plan based on feedback from neighbors concerned about losing canopy and trees. A new plan has been developed that only removes six deceased trees, and aims to balance a high canopy together with plants intended to grow below the canopy so that the median’s arbor will appear full at its highest, as well as its medium height. The work is slated to re-start in February, simultaneously with the sidewalk reconstruction, with a May completion anticipated.

Click here for Commissioner Sarnoff’s newsletter explaining the plan (2.2 MB PDF)

Click here for link to the revised City of Miami Plan for Brickell Median Beautification

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Update Dec. 17, 2013 – The much sought-after Brickell Avenue Beautification Plan has been stalled since September. A number of residents are concerned about the City’s vision and plans, and some have questioned the BHA’s position on the matter. This update of key points is intended to provide clarification on any misconceptions, misgivings or misstatements about the BHA position and looks to moving forward for the improvement of the Brickell community.

  • BHA has advocated for safety and aesthetic improvements on Brickell Avenue for years, and supported new plantings and irrigation on the Brickell medians, as well as major sidewalk improvements. Spurred by neighbor requests, this has been an objective on the BHA Legislative Agenda.
  • BHA first heard of the beginning of planning by the City, spearheaded by Commissioner Sarnoff, two years ago to develop and execute a comprehensive plan to improve the medians and expand and redo the sidewalks.
  • BHA learned in spring 2013 that the plan would move forward with highlights including the addition of more than 200 trees at 20 feet in height, new plantings throughout the medians, a new irrigation system and the complete redo and expansion of the sidewalks to 10 feet wide in most areas on the east side of Brickell.
  • BHA understood from the City that a necessary part of the plan was the removal of approximately 50 trees that were diseased or otherwise unhealthy and would never flourish. But, we were assured they would be replaced with mature trees.
  • BHA served as the conduit to facilitate meetings for the City to inform residents about the planned project. All Brickell residents, not just BHA members, were invited to attend several meetings where City representatives discussed the project. BHA did not have any additional information about the project nor were the details of the landscaping plans “vetted” by BHA as has been alleged.
  • When the City began the work on the project at the beginning of September the cutting of trees—many appearing healthy and not at risk—alarmed many residents who asked for a work stoppage to review the City’s plans to date and to have other experts weigh in on the plans.
  • BHA does not support the removal of healthy trees and the Executive Committee has asked for more information to fully understand the scope and breadth of the project. Specifically we have asked for an update on the City’s plans for restoring/replanting the medians where trees have been cut and for a vision of the remainder of the plan. An actual landscape architect’s rendering of the medians with the species of trees and plantings proposed is also called for.
  • The BHA Board is comprised of volunteer members who are all property owners and residents and only want to see Brickell improved.
  • False and malicious statements were irresponsibly made that BHA or its directors would “benefit monetarily” by this project. BHA is in no way involved in the contracts that will be issued for any work on the project and has no financial stake, nor do its board members, in any of the project’s work. BHA makes no financial gain from this project.

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Update Sept. 26, 2013 – Miami Herald article “Protests stall plan to cull, replant Brickell Avenue median trees” in which BHA was quoted: “It’s been discussed, honestly, for almost two years,’’ said association spokeswoman Natalie Brown, who added that her group, which represents 40 buildings and 25 businesses along the avenue, worked closely on the plans with planners and consultants. “It’s always been something that residents have asked for and advocated for. This is the first time we’ve seen the will by the city to do something that could be really great.’’ read full article

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Update Sept. 18, 2013 – We understand neighbors are alarmed at seeing the work underway on Brickell Avenue and are surprised and concerned about the loss of trees.  As those of you who have been attending our meetings know, Brickell Avenue Beautification has long been a focus of BHA, and part of our annual Legislative Agenda.

Commissioner Sarnoff began discussions with us about developing a major improvement plan for the Brickell medians and sidewalks two years ago. It has been the topic of BHA meetings, and we have published updates in our BHA News and online.

Nevertheless, there has been a loud outcry by a vocal group of folks who have posted comments online and sent around email with misstatements about the project and BHA.

First, by way of history:

In this past year, Commissioner Sarnoff spoke at our January 16, April 19, and May 29BHA Board meetings with project updates and asked for input. We said we didn’t want too much hardscape, and preferred plantings, and that the jogging path wouldn’t work because buildings didn’t want to give up their encroachments on the public right away. They have added beauty to the street, so the plan was created without the jogging path, but with a new irrigation system and with brand-new 10-foot sidewalks.

Commissioner Sarnoff first told BHA there were many troubled trees in April and then in May confirmed at least 50 would have to be replaced. The updated information was published in our Summer BHA News, and online. When we received the PDF of the complete landscape architectural plans in July, we put that online as well.

We were unhappy to hear about the condition of the trees from the arborist’s report last spring and it was a bitter pill to swallow, but we were confident that professionals were developing a plan that would bring significant improvement to what we have now. We were told that robust trees, not saplings would go in, and this summer we learned it would be a total of 240 trees and palms, and 10,000 plantings.

  • BHA representatives want the same beautiful, canopied avenue that all residents desire.
  • BHA and its officers have no financial gain or other benefit to be gained from this project.
  • BHA exists to improve quality of life in our neighborhood is here to represent the will of the neighbors who are represented by our members. We have not heard any objections from our member representatives on this project throughout the discussion phase, or since the uproar, and so we put it to you now. Shouldn’t we continue?

The consensus of the board at the meeting on 9/18/13 was that the project should continue.

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Sept. 6, 2013 – The Brickell Avenue Median Landscaping & Sidewalk Improvement project is beginning September 3 and is anticipated to take 90 days. The City will be redoing the medians with 10,000 new trees, plants and shrubs. A new irrigation system will be installed, and a new sidewalk path will be constucted on both sides of the Avenue. On the east side, the sidewalk will expand to 11 feet wide to better accommodate the many walkers, joggers and strollers in our community.

When the trees slated for removal were tagged, neighbors took note and contacted BHA for more plan details. The removal of any tree makes most folks nervous, not wanting to see any shade or natural beauty chopped away. BHA is in total agreement we want a beautiful, shaded Brickell Avenue.

BHA had its own arborist review several blocks of the tagged trees, and provide us an education as to the problems he encountered. BHA met with the City’s Capital Improvements Director Mark Spanioli and his planners for a review of the plans.

We learned that trees damaged by storms, collisions and other means were tagged for replacement, along with those planted too close to each other for proper growth, those diseased or otherwise deemed to have a short remaining life.

Oak-tall

Showing the size of the Live Oak trees to be going into Brickell Avenue median.

Neighbors objected to removal of the much-adored Royal Poincianas, which are not native to South Florida and which arborists report as the most brittle and prone to limb breakage and falling when stressed. The city, however, agreed to spare the Poincianas as neighbors requested.

Approximately 75 trees are to be replaced with 240 shade trees, 20 feet and higher. Some palms will be added for contrast and to mark the corridor’s entrance at Southeast 15th and 26th Roads.

BHA Vice President Gail Feldman has served as the liaison between the planners, BHA and residents, and explained the process to date, and the outcomes desired:

Our Commissioner, Marc Sarnoff has been a tremendous advocate for our wonderful street and has been the force behind identifying the needed funds and developing a well thought-out, cohesive plan befitting our glorious avenue. He has helped us to procure modern, uniform streetlights, our beautiful 1814 Brickell Park, a permanent red light signal at the crosswalk in front of Santa Maria, and now, a beautification program for our medians and sidewalk replacement that is sorely needed.

In our discussions with the City, they assured us that some of the 75 trees marked for removal have been spared and that others MUST be removed. We learned that there are many reasons for removal, i.e. root structure problems, damage, funguses, storm damage, plantings too close together prohibiting proper growth, etc., and necessity loomed large and in some cases dangerous, causing the trees to be removed.

Along with that information, we learned that over 240 mature trees will replace the ones removed and 10,000 other plant species will be installed in a planned and professionally designed plan which should make all of us happy and very proud!

None of us, including the Commissioner, and all people involved, I believe, wish to do anything to hurt the image and presentation of this prestigious street, in fact quite the contrary. It is and has been our mission to make this the “Park Avenue” of the south!

Below are photos taken this spring that illustrate some of the problems and shortcomings of the Brickell Avenue median and sidewalks which we look forward to seeing greatly improved with this project. For further details, the following City of Miami docs are available here:

 Photos of Brickell Avenue Problems – 2013