Solar lighting projects expanded at Westbrook, Ruben Dario parks

Solar lighting projects expanded at Westbrook, Ruben Dario parks

Parks director Jack Kardys points out light locations for Commissioner Javier Souto.

Solar lighting is coming to Kendall parks, wherever affordable and practical. Solar walkway lights will be installed at Westbrook Park later this summer while Ruben Dario Park will get new lighting for its entrance road, both the latest expansions of LED systems in southwest Miami-Dade County parks.

In an area surrounded by single-family homes, east of the Florida International University campus residents who live near the 2.5-acre Westbrook Park, 1325 SW 103 Pl., joined parks director Jack Kardys and Miami-Dade District 10 Commissioner Javier Souto for an announcement on Mar. 1.

The park’s one-mile winding walkway will provide illumination until 10 p.m. each night for twilight or nighttime strolling of residents in nearby neighborhoods.

Construction for the $270,000 project is scheduled tentatively to begin in June with completion projected by the end of October. A similar project was completed recently at Coral Villas Park, 6398 SW 35 St.

A preliminary improvement plan unveiled on Mar. 15 at Ruben Dario Park, 9825 W. Flagler St., includes new entrance-roadway lighting as well as access control fencing, park sign and six new benches, a $225,000 project.

Other Kendall parks already equipped with solar lighting are Chuck Pezoldt, Lago Mar and Briar Bay parks. Future park improvements that include solar lighting are planned at West Kendall District Park, Tree Island and Olympic parks.

Walkway lighting also is planned for Tropical Park and a new lighting system is in the planning stages to light both the entrance road and parking lots at Homestead Air Reserve Park.

“Park enhancements mean so much to these communities,” Souto stated during programs at both Westbrook and Rueben Dario Parks.

“We are now installing solar lights whenever possible,” Kardys said. “Although initially more expensive than electric lights, they require no electric utility expense and reinforce our commitment to the environment.

“While we don’t currently have the funding to retrofit existing parks with solar lights, we evaluate all new installations to determine if solar lights are preferred,” he added.

Selection of solar lighting systems is based on multiple factors for a park: availability of FPL power, tree canopy, life cycle considerations, as well as available funding and proximity to residential areas, Kardys explained.

Solar light bollards construction cost runs to approximately $2,500 per bollard, including installation and a solar collector system. Solar light poles typically cost $7,500 per installation of 13-foot high poles without security cameras or electronic modules, according to 2010 data.

In January, 75 poles of 20-foot height were installed at Chuck Pezoldt Park with solar lighting for a mile long walkway at a construction cost of $953,000. The equipment included security cameras and electronic modules to transmit both lighting and camera data.

The 61 light “bollards” planned at Westbrook Park are approximately 42 inches in height, designed to project lower level lighting.

“Solar powered technology supports Miami-Dade County’s Electricity Master Plan which targets electricity reduction,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez. “The Westbrook lighting plan goes hand-inhand with a GreenPrint imitative to create a sustainable parks system.”

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