Work on town’s newest park to begin in October

By Gary Alan Ruse…

Architect’s rendering of the Lakes by the Bay Park restroom/concession building. The inset is what the park will look like after the first phase of construction.

Cutler Bay’s newest recreational facility, the Lakes by the Bay Park, has been a long time coming and has taken a lot of work by town officials just to make it possible, but now construction is ready to begin and Phase One should be ready for residents to enjoy in a year and a half.

Alan Ricke, Parks and Recreation director for the Town of Cutler Bay, is grateful that things are ready to move forward.

“This is a park that the town acquired from the county after years of effort,” Ricke said. “It’s about 50 acres in size and Miami-Dade County has turned it over to the town, along with some funding they acquired to build the park.”

The initial construction costs will come from those county funds, assembled from a number of sources, according to Ricke.

“The county had impact fee money from developments in the area, some old park money, Safe Neighborhood Parks bond money, and money from the Building Better Communities general obligation bond,” Ricke said. “All of those combined generated about $8.5 million. Part of that goes toward closing off the landfill, being able to build 24 acres of ball fields with lights and everything that goes along with that.”

Phase One will include the construction of three lighted baseball/softball fields, two lighted football/soccer fields, a field center building with restrooms and concession stand, an exercise trail, landscaping and parking. There will be permanent bleacher seating on the baseball fields and portable bleachers for the soccer fields that can be moved around.

“We need to have flexibility on how we lay out the soccer fields,” Ricke explained. “We have different ages of kids and they need different size soccer fields.”

The county land overall is actually a little more than 80 acres. The portion that has been turned over to the town, 49.3 acres, had been used previously as a landfill, but that has been cleaned up now. Phase One is expected to be completed sometime in 2012.

“We’re hoping in about 18 months,” Ricke said. “It could happen sooner than that, but we have to allow for unforeseen issues like weather and that kind of thing. There’s also permitting work still being done with DERM and the South Florida Water Management District, since it’s so close to wetlands areas. We’ve had the contractor on board for almost a year now. It’s a design-build project and the local contractor doing most of the work is Downrite Engineering.”

A groundbreaking ceremony for Lakes by the Bay Park will take place on Saturday, Oct. 9, 10 a.m., at 8551 SW 216 St., which is behind Dr. Edward L. Whigham Elementary School. Residents are invited to attend.

For more information call the Parks and Recreation Department at 305-238-4166.

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