Solar powered lighting arrived at a sixth Kendall park area on June 11.
“It reminded me again how much our parks mean to our people,” said Miami- Dade District 10 Commissioner Javier D. Souto, who led a celebratory dedication of new walkway lights at Westbrook Park, 1325 SW 103 Pl.
The park’s approximately 1,300 linear feet of paved walkway received 78 new bollard lights, each approximately 40 inches tall and illuminated by an LED light fixture. The new lighting system generates electricity via solar power collected from five solar panel stations. Each station can power up to 16 bollards.
Six other parks equipped with solar path lighting include: Lago Mar, 8165 SW 162 Ave.; Briar Bay, 9000 SW 128 St.; Chuck Pezoldt, 16555 SW 157 Ave.; Ben Shavis, SW 179th Street at 104th Avenue, and Coral Villas, 6398 SW 35 St.
“I am especially proud of the Westbrook project,” Souto added. “Three of my children played in a county park as they grew up. Now, my eight grandchildren enjoy our parks as well.
“But people should understand that parks need our help because there must be more than trees, paths and benches — they need playground slides, picnic benches and other equipment, not always available in county funding.”
That was why Souto’s $100 donation helped established the Miami-Dade County Parks Foundation program, “an effort in which personal contributions can help make our parks even better than ever. The newly illuminated walkway makes this park an inviting place for residents to improve their health and well-being,” Souto said.
“I am thankful to the Parks Department for their great work in installing the new solar-powered lighting system at Westbrook Park,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “Solar powered technology is the hallmark of the county’s Electricity Master Plan targeting electricity reduction, as well as its GreenPrint initiative to create a sustainable parks system.”
Miami-Dade Parks director Jack Kardys added, “Lights are a welcomed addition to this park. Now more people will have an opportunity to enjoy the recreational amenities of this park after dark.” In addition to solar lighting panels, the Parks Department recently completed the installation of energy efficient lighting, air conditioning and solar water heating equipment in the 34 Miami-Dade parks that consume over 80 percent of the department’s electric energy.
The Westbrook project is expected to reduce such use by 12 percent from previous years as a part of operational best practices being implemented throughout the system to save energy, water and establish a sustainable model for future park operations, said Laura Roberts, Parks spokesperson.
The Miami-Dade Parks Design and Development Team completed the project in collaboration with the architects and engineers of Solares Electric. The project cost was approximately $255,000. Funding was provided by the Building Better Communities (BBC) General Obligation Bond Program. The 2.5-acre park also contains a playground, park furniture, paved walkways, and picnic areas.
The Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade was founded in 2004, after the founding members and recognized community leaders Jorge Luis Lopez, Dick Anderson, Dean Colson, Brandon Immerman, Nancy Liebman, and Sergio Pino, agreed that many of the needs faced by the Parks and Recreation Department were not fully covered through the county’s General Fund.
At the same time, Souto already had established a referendum authorizing the county manager to establish an Adopt-a-Park program to help community activists raise funds for needed improvements to the parks systems.
For information about individual support of parks, visit online at miamidade.gov./parks/foundation.