Madeleine Salman was a junior at Carrollton Preparatory School when she had an idea for improving the parks in her beloved Coral Gables using solar energy.
She had spent her childhood playing in the parks. When she took the Environmental Science and Society class, she saw a way to make things better.
Salman devised a combination of bench, solar panel and charging station that provides for energy needs of park-goers while keeping the environment pristine.
“To me, Coral Gables is one of the most beautiful places in the world,” she said. “I can’t help but feel mystified when I walk through the tunnels created by the mangroves in Matheson Hammock or the swaying branches of the Banyans on my way to work. I’m very proud to have been born and raised in Coral Gables. This feeling of growing up in a garden is what impelled me to take action to preserve it.”
salman was speaking at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new a new solar bench which took place on Feb. 8.
Salman said that in class her teacher inspired her to think on ways to use the information in her text to make the world outside better. At the ribbon-cutting at William H. Kerdyk and Family Park, she said that between her teachers, the commission and her Girl Scout family, there were many who she believed helped make her idea become reality.
But she said it was her parents that encouraged her the most.
“I am very proud of my daughter. She has always been an engineer at heart,” said Madeleine’s mother, Carmen Salman.
Now, the benches have been placed at 11 parks in the Gables.
They are green park benches with solar panels attached to them and charging stations built into their frames. They are 60-watt polycrystalline and are capable of creating enough power to charge four devices simultaneously.
Fred Cuceyro, director of Parks and Recreation for the City Beautiful, said the benches have built-in regulators that keep the units from losing power at night or in overcast days.
The process for getting the benches installed was a time-consuming one taking almost a year. The city first installed one at the Granada Golf Course and a charging station without a bench at the Youth Center. City technicians watched and waited to see how residents reacted, then worked with the manufacturer for an order that met their requirements.
Salman, now a freshman at Boston University, was very happy to see the benches at one of her favorite parks. She is missing Miami weather and is now majoring in Journalism because she wants to shine the light of truth on all dark places.