Playground1814

Progress pledged on three major advocacy items

Editor’s Note: In late August BHA learned of positive forward action on three of our major advocacy items that neighbors have been patiently awaiting: 1814 Brickell Park Playground Renovation; Left Turn Arrows at SE 15th Road & Brickell; Replacement of Crosswalks. Since that time and right before we sent this issue to press, we experienced Hurricane Irma. Naturally, the timetable for each of these projects will be delayed since they rely on city and county functions and staffers immersed in hurricane clean up and restoration. While we understand these projects are not high priority now, we will work with officials to get them back on track with revised time lines as soon as possible. Stay tuned for updates at brickellhomeowners.com.

1814 Brickell Park Playground

City of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell’s office reported that the Request for Proposals for installation of the new playground equipment at the 1814 Brickell Park was issued in late August with permitting for the project to begin in October. Construction for the project was scheduled to begin in November 2017. Once the construction gets underway, we’re told it will take a few months to complete.

It was nearly two years ago that BHA heard from residents that 1814 Brickell Park needed some changes to better meet the needs of the park’s users. We learned that while the park “was conceived from the desire to cater to a variety of user types in the neighborhood,” as BHA reported when it was designed, it turns out a singular demographic dominates among the park patrons: those 6 and under.

Moms and kids told BHA that they love the park, but some changes are needed to make it function well for children. The biggest change needed is in the playground equipment. Traditional swings, slides and monkey bars that toddlers can more readily use are needed versus the contemporary design of the current equipment, more suited to older kids. More traditional and toddler-oriented elements are in the new plans BHA saw unveiled in November 2016 by City of Miami Parks officials.

The new equipment got the thumbs up from residents right away. Since that time City officials were working to identify funds for the project. In addition to the new playground equipment, additional fencing in the northeast quadrant closest to the road is being added to better contain children playing close to Brickell Avenue.

The City fixed the drainage problem in the southwest quadrant, considered the “dog area” which had a drainage problem due to a leaky pipe.

The park, occupying just under an acre of land, was designed, constructed and opened by the City of Miami in 2011 in the middle of the southern stretch of Brickell Avenue. BHA neighbors who had been asking for more green space for years were delighted.

While beautifully designed by Enea Garden Design, the park needed a few tweaks to accommodate children, its most loyal daily customers. BHA thanks the “moms of the park,” spearheaded by Brickell East resident Beatriz Planas, who got together and first approached Commissioner Russell about desired improvements. Making the improvements was one of the Commissioner’s earliest promises after he was elected, and he’s been working to see this through.

BHA directors were in agreement with the moms, wanting to see the park fulfill its highest function for those who need and use it most.

“Brickell is now full of families who are bringing their children to the park every day,” said BHA President Ernesto Cuesta. “We are happy to have the City’s help in making it the best it can be for them as they need this outdoor space.”

BHA thanks District 2 Commissioner Ken Russell and Parks Director Kevin Kirwin for bringing about the improvements residents wish to see. While it’s taken some time, we’re happy to see it moving forward.

Deteriorated Decorative Crosswalks to be Replaced

The broken, dilapidated crosswalks on Brickell Avenue between Southeast 8th Street and Southeast 25th Road are finally going to be replaced. They were installed as part of the last Brickell Avenue Improvement plan about five years ago, which included repaving of Brickell Avenue and enhancing existing crosswalks with a colored pavement design. The look was meant to be aesthetically pleasing as well as a visual cue to drivers to think of pedestrians. While conceptually a great idea, the materials the contractor used were a disaster from almost day one. The material didn’t withstand the traffic, quickly becoming cracked, then broken, then hazardous to pedestrians with the uneven surface and missing pieces. We heard the company responsible went out of business.

BHA directors met with Commissioner Russell in May to discuss alternative pavers that could withstand the large daily volume of cars and still look good after months and years of use. A modern, gray stone was what City officials were leaning toward, in keeping with the modern ambiance of the Brickell area.

We were pleased when we received this status report from Commissioner Russell’s office in late August:

At this time, the project to improve the pedestrian crosswalks along Brickell Avenue between SE 8th and SE 15th Rd has been advertised for bids. A pre-bid meeting was held for the project on August 22, 2017. The due date to submit a proposal to bid on the project is September 20, 2017. At this time the city’s procurement department will conduct due diligence on the bids submitted and determine responsibility and responsiveness. As a reminder, if you have any questions about either project, please do not hesitate to reach out to Commissioner Russell’s office at krussell@miamigov.com

We are awaiting word that the replacement plan includes the crosswalk at the 1800 block in front of the park.

SE 15th Road & Brickell to finally get left turn arrows

After several years of asking, residents are finally going to get the dedicated left turn arrows needed on the traffic signals at the intersection of Brickell Avenue and Southeast 15th Road. The intersection is a busy one for the Brickell neighborhood, further challenged by a dogleg configuration of the road, limiting sight lines for cars heading south on Brickell Avenue. Many are coming fast. BHA regularly hears complaints from residents unable to make a left turn due to a high volume of traffic in peak hours throughout the day.

BHA has had this item on its advocacy agenda for several years and hoped to see it happen three years ago when control of the avenue shifted from the state highway authorities to City of Miami.

Traffic signalization, however, is in the domain of Miami-Dade County, specifically the Department of Transportation and Public Works. County traffic engineers needed to be convinced that the intersection warranted the dedicated left arrows, in all directions. This seemed easy enough to do, simply by observation alone. But it took the intervention of many of BHA’s elected representatives to get the County to more carefully focus on this intersection and agree to make the change.

We were happy to hear from the Director of the Department, Alice Bravo, P.E., in August that the County is in agreement and the arrows will be added.

“Staff has begun working on modification plans for the above-referenced intersection and has allocated RIF funding to change the signal heads to include a left turn arrow on all approaches,” she wrote to BHA. “Design is estimated to be complete by the end of the month. A work order is currently being processed to start construction as soon as plans are available. We are estimating a mid-September date for the work to be completed.”

Thank you, Ms. Bravo, and to our elected representatives. 

From BHA News, Fall 2017