By Bari Auerbach….
“Cities that keep young – keep growing.” This astute observation made by Sunny Isles Beach Mayor Norman Edelcup is coming to life thanks to efforts being made by the City Commission to ensure the community continues to offer the best services and amenities for an evergrowing population of families with children.
According to Beacon Council statistics, Sunny Isles Beach has turned into a family city as the median age drops and the number of families with children continues to rise sharply. With young families continuing totransform the once retirement community into a modern and fast-paced city, the youth population is exploding. When the city first incorporated in 1997, there were only about 300 children living in Sunny Isles Beach – but today, 2010 census data shows there are more than 2,000 Sunny Isles Beach households with individuals under the age of 18.
From new parks and enriching activities featured in the city’s Fall 2011 calendar planned by the Cultural and Human Services Department – to upcoming special events like Family Movie Nights, the annual Jazz Fest and “Booogie by the Beach” Halloween celebration – it’s no wonder the young – and young at heart love calling Sunny Isles Beach home.
Over 1,700 kindergarten through eighth graders going back to school for the new fall term will also be returning to a school with a new name…On June 15, the Miami-Dade County School Board officially changed the name of the Sunny Isles Beach K-8 Community School to the Norman S. Edelcup/Sunny Isles Beach K-8. School Principal Dr. Annette Weissman explained, “This is a well deserved honor for the Mayor and everyone affiliated with the school. We will continue to work diligently to bring honor to the Mayor, the school and the community.”
Weissman was also proud to announce, “The N.S.E. Sunny Isles Beach K-8 has again earned an ‘A’ grade from the state. This is the third consecutive year that we are an ‘A’ school and I am so proud of the teachers and children for this outstanding record. We are known throughout the county for our commitment to high academic standards.”
In keeping with the city’s commitment to providing educational opportunities to young residents, the city has established a college scholarship program for high school students who graduate from a high school in Miami- Dade County. The first scholarship recipients were selected by a committee composed of Police Chief Fred Maas and the principals from the N.S.E. Sunny Isles Beach K-8 and the Alonzo and Tracy Mourning High School. Four students were each awarded $5,000; and another four were awarded $500 scholarships.
HAVE A BALL FALL CALENDAR’
The Sunny Isles Beach Cultural and Human Services Department has gone “allfall- out” to plan the city’s 2011 Fall Calendar of Programs and Events featuring concerts, classes, sports activities, cultural event trips, plus special events for all ages the whole community is invited to enjoy. The entire calendar can be viewed on the city’s website sibfl.net
FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT, NOV.
5: 7-9 p.m. at Town Center Park
BOOOGIE BY THE BEACH: OCT. 28-29:
7-10 p.m. at Pelican Community Park The city’s “spooktacular” two-night Halloween celebration will feature games, rides, music, fun foods, contests and the spookiest haunted house in town! .
4TH ANNUAL SUNNY ISLES BEACH JAZZ FEST: OCT. 14-16
The fourth annual Sunny Isles Beach Jazz Fest will once again celebrate the extraordinary sounds of jazz music throughout the weekend featuring notable local jazz artists. The event will benefit Joshua’s Heart Foundation and Miami Children’s Hospital. For more details, visit online at sunnyislesbeachjazz. com
‘JUST FOR YOUTH’ AT PELICAN COMMUNITY PARK
After School Programs; Afternoon and All-Day Fun Zones during teacher planning days; Afternoon Storytelling; Ballroom Dancing; Art of Superheroes; Cirque du Pelican; Chess; Fine Art; Guitar Classes; Hip Hop; Karate; Kinder Musik; Mommy and Me; LEGO Robotics; Musical Theatre; Stop Motion Animation
YOUTH PROGRAMS & ATHLETICS
Instructional Baseball (Co-ed); Recreational League Soccer; Pee-Wee Instructional Soccer (Co-ed); Girls Soccer; Cheerleading; Basketball Clinics; Karate for teens and adults The City also offers memberships to the Community Center at Pelican Community Park with benefits including priority registration, discounts and use of the facilities (computer lab, fitness center, and gymnasium) with certain guidelines.
For assistance with Pelican Community Park’s community programs, phone: 305- 792-1801.For information about the city’s special events and cultural programs, phone: 305-792-1759. To receive email notifications about city sponsored concerts and events, youth programs, adult and senior activities, cultural event trips and more, subscribe through eSIBi on sibfl.net. For more information about any of the programs and event offerings, or to receive information about upcoming events through the mail, phone the Cultural and Human Services Department: 305-792-1706.
‘FUN IN THE SUN’
Sunny Isles Beach recently celebrated thegrand opening of Heritage Park – the newest park at 192nd Street and Collins Avenue designed with the booming population of children in mind. Amenities the kids love include separate playgrounds for toddlers and young children, a “splash play” area and basketball court. The size of neighboring Golden Shores Park has also been doubled and the park has been completely renovated with new playground equipment and landscaping.
The Skate Park at Town Center Park has also served to help get kids off highly trafficked streets and into a more secure environment. In response to concerns about noise emanating from the Skate Park at the west end of Town Center Park (17200 Collins Avenue) disturbing some Winston Towers residents, park hours were reduced to: Sunday-Friday, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Saturdays, the hours between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. are for preteen instruction only.
The City Commission also arranged to have a study conducted by a sound engineer in order to consider potential alternatives for enhancing soundproofing at the Skate Park. Based on conclusions and recommendations made in a Kimley-Horn study, the City Commission decided to proceed with obtaining cost comparison estimates and bids for either fully enclosing the Skate Park or erecting sound barriers.
To bring even more “fun in the sun” to the southern part of the city, Sunny Isles Beach will soon be welcoming “The Intracoastal Parks on Collins Avenue” comprised of pedestrian-friendly passive parks with open views of the Intracoastal and adjacent walking paths.
An applicant recently appeared before the City Commission seeking site plan approval for a daycare center at the Winston Towers shopping plaza (17395 North Bay Road). The applicant (Sunny Isles Daycare Corp.) was also requesting a variance of the city code to permit a child care center with a maximum of 40 children where six children are permitted. City staff advised the Commission that the applicant’s variance request did not meet criteria listed in the city code for granting variances, which are based on reasons involving “non-economic” hardships.
Ultimately, the Commission denied the day care request with only Comm. George “Bud” Scholl voting “yes” based on reasons including his opinion that child pick-up and drop-offs at designated times would not cause unmanageable traffic problems – and other options for the site might create even more traffic.
Mayor Norman Edelcup, Vice Mayor Lewis Thaler and Commissioners Isaac Aelion and Jeanette Gatto voted “no” – expressing concerns about traffic and child safety. Edelcup explained, “I really believe that a daycare center is needed in the city – maybe more than one because we have so many children in our city – and we have so many because we as a Commission set out to create a city where younger people are welcomed and we want to see the city grow. However, as much as I’d like to see a daycare center, this is not the site that I would say is a safe site for children.
“You have a small parking lot in the front that is always overfilled with cars when there’s any major event going on in that center – and that parking lot is one-way – which means everyone going in has to go out the same way they came in by making u-turns. Secondly, the area that is supposedly available for the children to play outside is at best a minimal area that abuts a street…With as many children as would be dropped off there and even with as much care as we would like to see in protecting the lives of our children, I don’t see how we, in good conscious, can say that this is safe location to have a daycare center in our city.”
Edelcup went on to note, “Hopefully, someday relatively soon, we’ll have an emergency bridge that may bring an amount of traffic behind this facility and that playground area would be abutting that street and that entrance to the bridge. This also means we’d have fire trucks and ambulances going in at high speeds to get to emergencies – and to have that abutting a children’s play area [makes it] not the perfect spot in the city. I wish the [applicants] were coming to us with a different location – but I really have a problem with this specific location being designated