At the March 18 City Commission meeting, a discussion regarding plans for the park grounds at Heritage Park (19200 Collins Avenue) focused on design elements including a “Heritage Wall” commemorating city history and founders – and just how high the wall should be.
After viewing schematics presented for the Heritage Wall proposed for the northeast corner of the four-acre park site, Mayor Norman S. Edelcup and Commissioners expressed their opinion that the wall appeared too high – rising to approximately 12 feet at its highest point; and that steps leading up to the wall were an undesirable design element. “We would prefer the wall to be at grade level with no stairs…we also don’t want it to be so high that it detracts from the look and feel of open space,” Edelcup said.
Commissioner George “Bud” Scholl also inquired about having an interactive water feature by the wall, noting it would be a nice water-play addition for children—but City Manager Rick Conner explained that because HRS requires bathroom facilities with showers to be located within close proximity to an interactive water feature, it wouldn’t be feasible to have a water play area close to the wall.
Ultimately, the Commission agreed it would be necessary to “go back to the drawing board” on the park’s Heritage Wall feature to determine how high it should be. At the next Commission meeting on April 15, easier to visualize, three-dimensional schematics will be presented proposing “new heights” to help give the Commission greater insight into what wall dimensions will be optimal, taking into consideration that Heritage Park will be surrounded by a six-foot high fence. During the park discussion, it was also noted that other major components will include two playgrounds (one for children ages 2 to 5 and another for children ages 5 to 12); a “great lawn” area, about thirty percent larger than at Samson Park and large enough to accommodate approximately 1,500 people for special events such as the city’s Jazz Fest; and a 500-space parking garage, already under construction.
“Heritage Park will be a great asset to the city,” noted City Manager Rick Conner.
‘MORE GREEN ON THE SCENE’
Sunny Isles Beach residents can also look forward to even more parks coming to the south end of the city on the west side of Collins Avenue – extending from Sunny Isles Boulevard to the south entrance of the city. At a Commission meeting on Jan. 28, a resolution passed naming the South Collins Park System as “The Intracoastal Parks.”
Individual arms were also designated and named as follows: Sailfish Park, Dolphin Park, Stingray Park, Manatee Park, Marlin Park and Tarpon Park. City Manager Rick Conner noted family names in honor of benefactors will also be added at a later date. Mayor Norman S. Edelcup recently noted, “With a growing population in Sunny Isles Beach starting to include many young families, the City Commission is working hard to provide more open green and park space as called for in its Comprehensive Plan.”
Plans to build a safer designated “Skateboard Park” area including a concession stand at Town Center Park are also underway. Susan Simpson, Director of Cultural and Human Services explained the Skateboard Park will be located in the area of the park where the city’s annual Easter Egg Hunt event has been previously held and that the Egg Hunt will now be moved to Pelican Park.
HIGH SCHOOL ‘WALL OF GIVING’
At the March 18 City Commission meeting, principal of Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Sr. High School Sally Alayon and PTSA member Marianna Talalaevsky appeared to present a video of the school’s achievements just one year since opening; and request a donation from the City of Sunny Isles Beach that may help create a “wall of giving” at the school.
At least 300 students who reside in Sunny Isles Beach are currently enrolled in the high school neighboring FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus, which is also attended by students from Golden Beach, North Miami and North Miami Beach.
After the Sunny Isles Beach K-8 Community School opened, a donor wall was established to help provide for “varied and enriched” programming in light of inadequate state funding. The donor wall helps raise funds overseen by trustees providing for capital needs such as new technologies to aid teachers, the creation of unique school programs and purchase of educational tools and resources not allocated in the school’s budget.
Talalaevsky noted that the city and Mayor Norman S. Edelcup helped create a “Wall of Giving” at the K-8 Community School to acknowledge and display a range of donations and expressed her opinion that a similar wall would be ideal for the Alonzo and Tracy Mourning High School – where at least 50 percent of enrollment is expected to be comprised of students from Sunny Isles Beach within the next two years.
The Commission concurred the following “three-pronged approach” to supporting the high school could be most advantageous:
Approving a city-funded donation earmarked for a specific purpose(s); developing a scholarship program sponsored by the city that would be initiated by the beginning of next fiscal year; and forming a city-school partnerships providing opportunities for students to earn compensation in return for providing services such as creating art in public places, producing films about the city or presenting musical performances at special events.
Inviting members of the Commission to attend the high school’s official dedication ceremony on April 16, Alayon and Talalaevsky said they would be back at the April 15 City Commission meeting with a formal proposal for forging a fundraising partnership with Sunny Isles Beach.