$5M in proposed budget to build Tree Island ParkInitial development of a major west Miami-Dade County park and forest preserve is targeted to get underway in 2016, providing environmental hurdles can be cleared this year.
Long sought by area residents including members of the neighboring Venetian Isles Homeowner Association, the still-undeveloped Tree Island Park also raised queries about its future during a county budget review in West Kendall on Aug. 11.
Design and planning is reported complete for the 120-acre Tree Island Park, including a 70-acre vacant land parcel between SW 147th and SW 149th avenues, stretching south to SW 22nd Street.
The total cost to complete its development plan is divided into four capital outlays in Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s proposed FY 2015-16 budget, targeted to spend $4 million through FY 2017-18, according to Jackie Anghel- Novick, aide to the mayor.
The undeveloped grassland and forest preserve is currently under study by three environmental permitting agencies. Completed plans call for preserving 70 acres as a protected natural area, including 20 acres of a native tree island and 50 acres of wet prairie land.
The remaining 50 acres with exotic Melaleuca tree shading is reserved for multi-purpose fields, a field center, soccer fields, playgrounds, picnic shelters, walking paths, a tennis court complex and swimming pool, according to Laura Phillips, spokesperson for the Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation Department.
The first phase of development in the northeast corner of the park would open a building with restrooms, playgrounds, four picnic areas, a lighted parking area for 55 vehicles and landscaping, she stated.
At present, the pre-development environmental and permitting study is underway by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Florida Water Management District and the county’s Regulatory and Economic Resources (RER) Coastal and Wetlands Resources section.
“It’s a complicated process which we hope to finalize sometime this year,” Phillips said. “After the environmental permitting is completed, it’s anticipated to take approximately five to six months to bid Phase One development in the northeast corner of park and construction to take approximately 14-16 months to complete a four-year funding plan,” she concluded.
The multi-year plan for Tree Island Park draws on the Building Better Communities bond program after $622,000 in expenses to date. Future spending targets $225,000 for 2015-16; $2 million in 2016-17, and $2,153 million in 2017-18.
The development plan had been listed by Miami-Dade District 11 Commissioner Juan Zapata earlier this year as one of several totaling $105 million in the unincorporated areas of west Miami-Dade County without specific funding.