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Summer 2010 – Disturbing views of Brickell

Brickell resident and business owner Charles Tavares walks the Brickell area daily, his preferred method over vehicular travel. The walk isn’t always pleasant, however. In fact, it can be downright disturbing as he walks on poorly maintained and often dangerous sidewalks and roadways. This Brickell resident of 25+ years, who is also a BHA rep and board member of Brickell Area Association, wonders “Why are our streets and sidewalks so poorly maintained when Brickell is Miami’s premier location?” In an effort to get attention from folks who could make it better, he has taken some walks with camera in hand.

Scary Sidewalks

disturbingviews2He doesn’t have to look hard to find sidewalks cracked, broken and dangerous, sometimes with sizeable chunks of broken concrete left for months. Forget about wheelchair travel on many sidewalks in the Brickell area. Poorly spaced utility poles, boxes for utilities and parking payments, news racks and large advertising panels block passage with seemingly no prohibition.

Sanctioned Sidewalk Graffiti

When navigating these sidewalks you can’t help but notice many are liberally marked up by various utility companies with no regard (and apparently no limits) on the visual blight they are creating with their handy codes. You’ve seen the marks. Every shade of neon spray paint depicting crude, cryptic arrows, lines, letters and shapes…all meaningful to the utility companies, but graffiti to those who have to look at it marring their path.

This isn’t sidewalk chalk that washes away quickly. This paint sticks around. In many spots the utility-taggers seem to be vying to get noticed with some patches sporting as many as six different colors. Fancy pavers don’t even deter them. They spray decorative stonework just as quickly as asphalt or concrete, marking their territory like dogs staking their claim on our neighborhood, liberally blemishing our paths so we can’t help but take notice.

Neglected Swales

And then right next to the sidewalks are swales—the small patches of what should be green public right of ways. Overgrown, weedy swales with litter and debris are a common sight, especially where construction projects stalled or never began. Swales are the responsibility of the adjacent property owner. It would be up to the City’s Code Enforcement to take action if the property owners are not maintaining them.

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Frequent Flooding

And then there’s the flooding. Streets and sidewalks get overwhelmed in a typical South Florida thunderstorm. BHA has been asked to be patient, and promised that the flooding at Brickell Avenue and Coral Way (12th Street) will be fixed when the Brickell Avenue repaving project gets underway.

But that’s not the only problem area. Southeast First Avenue under the People Mover is often reduced to one lane when there’s heavy rain. Around Mary Brickell Village, street flooding easily gushes over sidewalks on typical rainy summer afternoons.

Who You Gonna Call?

Many of these areas are not under City of Miami control, Commissioner Marc Sarnoff reminds us. In fact, the Florida Department of Transportation and Miami-Dade County are in charge of the roads and sidewalks of the main Brickell thoroughfares that are part of the U.S. Highway system. But the City is responsible for some elements of these State and Federal roads. It’s complicated, so we created a chart of who is in charge of what. With so many overlapping agencies, it’s not surprising that problems linger. The average person wouldn’t know where to call to report a problem!

The Photographic Record by Charles Tavares and his photos on the next page tell the story better than the words of this article. The full-color, large photos show every dismal detail of the problems, so we put several dozen of his shots online at www.brickellhomeowners.com. We urge you to take a gander of the Brickell area up close and not for comfort.

From BHA News Vol. XX, No. 2, Summer 2010

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