Segal Park Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Marks Grand Re-opening

By Christina Gordon

Among residents, former City Commissioner Gail Miller, Park Director Starex Smith, former City Commissioner Ollie B. Kelley, Mayor Joseph L. Kelley, State Representative Oscar Braynon, II., Mrs. Irma Skyles (seated), Vice Mayor “Lady” Myra L. Taylor, Commissioner Timothy Holmes, Commissioner Dorothy “Dottie” Johnson, Commissioner Rose Tydus, City Manager Clarance Patterson, Mr. Alvin Burkes and one of the many children that will benefit greatly from the renovated Segal Park.

After months of patiently monitoring construction and eagerly anticipating results, finally nearby residents of Segal Park, 2331 N. W. 143rd Street, Opa-locka, had the opportunity to join Mayor Joseph L. Kelley and other Commission members for a “play” date at the Ribbon-Cutting on Thursday, June 24th 2010, during a ceremony which marked the grand re-opening of this improved recreational facility.

Shortly following the January groundbreaking, enthusiastic residents began overwhelming City Hall with inquiries about the opening date of Segal Park. The work, in an effort to maximize cost efficiency, was done in-house by the City of Opa-locka’s Public Works Department, with special assignments contracted out. The City received $200,000 from Miami-Dade County Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED) and $150,000 from the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP), to make-over the park. However, minutes before arriving at the ceremony, City Manager Clarance Patterson received “breaking news” that an additional $650,000 grant had just been awarded to the City from OCED; funds that would be used towards phase-two of the project, which will include the restoration of the Helen L. Miller Center, located on the grounds of Segal Park. This was news that Mayor Joseph L. Kelley, Commission Members and others attending the ceremony, including former City Commissioner Gail Miller, daughter of the late Mayor Helen Miller for whom the Community Center was named, was overjoyed to hear. In reference to the work completed, State Representative Oscar Braynon II noted, “With rain clouds ahead, before these renovations were completed, we would have had a canal, but with the new drainage system in place, we now have a beautiful park.” Braynon was among the many guest to join the Commission for the celebration.

During a brief summary, Starex Smith, Director of Opa-locka’s Parks and Recreation Department, presented an overview of the Department’s accomplishments, as well as a forecast of expected activities. With a focus on “Going-Green,” Smith demonstrated ways that youth, involved in park programs, would learn conservation by building artwork from “toss-away” items like balloons, while recycling pizza boxes to create solar ovens and other science projects. According to Smith, there was a 40% increase in after-school programs this year; a number which is expected to rise through better parks and programs. “We are just carrying out the vision of the Mayor and the Commission,” Starex added.

Mayor Kelley, along with Vice Mayor “Lady” Myra L. Taylor, Commissioners Timothy Holmes, Rose Tydus and Dorothy “Dottie” Johnson, were extremely thrilled with the new transformation of Segal Park, and even more satisfied that the City of Opalocka “did it themselves.” As each Member of the Commission stood at the podium, they glanced across the audience and singled-out recognizable faces, which initiated or had significant contributions to many of the changes now occurring in the City of Opa-locka. Among the familiar were Representatives from the Office of District One County Commissioner Barbara Jordan, former Commissioner Ollie B. Kelley (the Mayor’s mother), Mrs. Irma Skyles, former Vice Mayor Terrence Pinder and, of course, the hard working staff from Public Works, Parks and Recreation, the Office of the City Clerk and all other departments. “We all want to see our City excel, and we come together in one accord on a project like this, especially when it involves creating a better environment for our children,’ said Commissioner Holmes. “Now our families can enjoy a scenic outing, where a tot-lot with new playground equipment, an exercise trail, upgraded pavilion and other park advancements and furnishings such as grills, trash receptacles, painted buildings, sodding and irrigation have put a new look and a new attitude to the neighborhood.” Smith affirmed.

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