During a special groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, Mar. 23, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Katy Sorenson, Cutler Bay Mayor Paul Vrooman as well as other council members took the first step that will bring long-needed street lighting to residents of Cutler Bay’s Lakes by the Bay subdivision.
The morning ceremony at SW 216th Street and Old Cutler Road near the Lakes by the Bay entrance included Vice Mayor Ed MacDougall and councilmembers Tim Meerbott and Peggy Bell as they joined the Miami-Dade County Public Works Department in the project, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Street Lighting Improvement.
The streetlights will brighten SW 216th Street from Old Cutler Road to SW 87th Avenue in Cutler Bay. For this project, Commissioner Sorenson committed $571,159.84 from ARRA funds. ARRA money totaling $2,839,223 was used to fund that project, another street lighting project on Franjo Road from SW 184th Street to S. Dixie Highway, three roadway resurfacing projects on SW 104th Street from SW 117th Avenue to SW 107th Avenue and ADA bus stop access, internally illuminated street name signs, and pedestrian crossing signals (LED countdown).
“Thanks to ARRA, we had the funds necessary for vital street lighting improvements in Lakes by the Bay as well as other public works projects in District 8,” Commissioner Sorenson said.
Councilmember Bell was instrumental in making the Miami-Dade County streetlight project happen, according to town clerk Erika Gonzalez-Santamaria and Public Works director Rafael G. Casals. “Since the Town’s incorporation, Councilmember Bell and town staff have been involved with the Lakes by the Bay Homeowner’s Association and attended several HOA meetings, concerning the lack of streetlights along SW 216th Street,” Casals said. “Originally, the Lakes by the Bay developer installed solar lights along SW 216th Street that were very dim and some that were inoperable.”
After Bell and Casals met several times with Miami-Dade Public Works Department’s Street Lighting Division and Sorenson’s Office, everyone was in agreement that the existing dark unsafe conditions along SW 216th Street needed to be addressed. Plans were completed by Miami-Dade County Public Works Department, but they still needed a funding source.
“Once the federal stimulus funding became available to Miami-Dade County, both town staff and Councilmember Bell continued to express the need for funding this project,” Casals explained. “The SW 216th Street project was selected as one of the countywide street lighting improvements, within the county’s ARRA allocation.”
Bell explained her commitment to the project and the need for improved lighting in the area.
“For many years the Lakes by the Bay Homeowners Association and I have been working on acquiring street lighting for SW 216th Street,” Bell said. “This county road is a main thoroughfare for traffic heading to the local elementary and middle school, as well as Black Point Marina. As the road is located in the Town of Cutler Bay, I asked for help from our staff. Though there was no money available for the project, I enlisted our Public Works director, Ralph Casals.”
Bell said that they worked cooperatively with the county to accomplish this goal once the county was able to secure a stimulus grant to pay for the lighting. She appreciated Commissioner Sorenson’s efforts to improve the lives of Cutler Bay residents.
“This goes to show how great things can be done when the right people work together,” Bell said. “I thank our commissioner and her county staff; the HOA president, Jackie Shand, and her board, and our town for getting this project off the ground. The lighting will be finished in 120 days, which means our children will no longer be waiting for the bus in the dark when school begins next fall.”