Improvements for two town parks underway

Two parks in the Town of Cutler Bay will be receiving needed improvements thanks to a partnership between the town and Miami-Dade County, and work already has started officially with formal groundbreaking ceremonies on Tuesday, May 11.

Bel Aire Park, located at SW 97th Avenue (Franjo Road) and 185th Terrace, will benefit from several improvements, including renovation of the football field which will be relocated to the west end of the park as part of the Park Master Plan, be graded and re-sodded.

Four upgraded light poles for the football field also will be put in place and the scoreboard will be moved. The existing bleachers will be removed and new 10-row aluminum bleachers will be installed for the field. In addition, an automatic irrigation system for the field will be installed and playground equipment for children 12 and under, consistent with the plan, will be added. Improvements at Saga Lake Park, located at SW 83rd Avenue and 198th Street, will see a part of the open play area filled and graded along with the addition of about 30,000 square feet for a field.

A 30- by 30-foot picnic pavilion, complete with water and electrical connections, will be added, and the existing asphalt walkway will be expanded and an outdoor fitness station system will be installed. The new practice fields will get an automatic irrigation system to help keep the grass in top shape. Helping to beautify the park as well as serving as a buffer between the new practice fields and the other open play space will be the planting of 30 shade trees.

Total costs for the improvements will come to $585,200, with half provided by a grant from the county’s Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond Program and matching funds from the Town of Cutler Bay.

Alan Ricke, director of the town’s Parks and Recreation Department, explained that the work has long been needed, especially because athletic fields require better upkeep than people’s yards due to the heavy use the turf receives from kids running over it constantly.

“The projects are the result of the town’s Parks Master Plan, which was approved more than a year and a half ago and grew out of the work of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee,” Ricke said. “We were fortunate enough for these two projects to receive some grant money from the county.

“These are two parks that we acquired from the county and we’re trying to bring them up to today’s standards. Not much has happened at the Bel Aire Park for 15 or 20 years. The field is not level and there’s no adequate irrigation, which makes it hard for us to maintain, so both irrigation projects will not only make the parks nicer for the people that use them, but actually better to maintain.” Work is expected to proceed during the summer and fall but be done before the end of the year.

“We should have both parks completed by December,” Ricke said. “It will come in phases. We’re not going to wait for all of the work to be done before people can start using parts of the areas. The playground equipment may be under construction while the football field is in use, or vice-versa.”

Ricke also said that project signs will be posted at each park with images from the Parks Master Plan attached to show what the completed park will look like.

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