Parks lead in $105 million of unfunded WK projects

It will be no surprise to county officials, but West Kendall residents may react differently to learn that projects totaling over $105 million are identified as “without available public funding” to pay for area infrastructure improvements.

“The list pinpoints where we are, and where we need to go,” said Miami-Dade District 11 Commissioner Juan C. Zapata who added that his staff developed the list as a baseline for improving West Kendall.

“We need to know what needs correcting and where we should take a bite out of county budgeting, despite the current artificial capping without a millage increase.”

It is a position Zapata has maintained steadily in countywide budget discussions.

A Nov. 26 posting of “West Kendall/West Dade Unfunded Infrastructure Needs” is dominated by nine “Park Facilities” projects that represent $52 million-plus of the overall total, including the next phase for development of West Kendall District Park at a cost of $11.8 million.

An extension of SW 120th Street has been a part of the initial infrastructure to access the vacant fields off SW 157th Avenue that comprise the 160-acre property.

A Dog Park was opened on a 10-acre parcel in the northeast corner separated from planned district park land by SW 157th Avenue, south of SW 112th Street but no Building Better Communities (BBC) funds are allocated currently to continue District Park development in current priorities for Miami-Dade BBC capital projects.

Tamiami Park in West Dade is listed with “unfunded” projects that total $24.5 million that include construction of a 30,000-squarefoot indoor basketball court gymnasium.

Another $1.9 million is listed for development at Camp Matecumbe off SW 120th Street, but without current funding.

Tree Island Park, a 120-acre parcel located south of SW 10th Street between SW 147th and 149th avenues, needs $10.6 million for soccer fields, a field center building, parking, walkways and a picnic area.

While $500,000 for renovation of the existing concession building and $94,000 for baseball field renovation are needed at Indian Hammocks Park; a $2 million project for removal of arsenic traces in certain areas has been funded with work scheduled to begin in April, according to James (Andy) McCall, parks planner.

At Westwind Lakes Park, a water park playground has been scheduled for $500,000 BBC funding with completion targeted by summer.

The $53 million balance of $105 million unfunded projects in West Kendall include $34.3 million for public works road projects, not including an estimated expense of $2.4 billion to extend Metrorail from the Miami Intermodal Center to FIU’s South Campus.

Major items:

• $13.5 million to add two traffic lanes to SW 157th Avenue from 42nd Street north to Eighth Street;

• $6.4 million to widen SW 104th Street to six lanes between 147th and 137th avenues. (The project was dropped from the DPW schedule in 2010 after a strong resident protest against expending the funds and replacing median landscaping);

• $5.3 million to six-lane SW 104th Street west of 147th Avenue to Hammocks Boulevard. Additional non-funded West Kendall projects: • $7.3 million for 19 road resurfacing projects, including $1 million for SW 26th Street between 142nd and 147th Avenues.;

• $4.8 million for 11 storm drainage projects as infrastructure improvements;

• $2.7 million for eight landscaping items, including $1.8 million for a bike path along SW 120th Avenue and $1 million for landscaping on SW 136th Street west of 137th Avenue, and SW 137th Avenue, south of 120th Street, all in the area of Kendall- Tamiami Executive Airport, and

• $966,000 for sidewalk repairs and replacements on eight streets.

Some community activists in West Kendall responded to the unfunded projects. Their comments included:

“As to traffic signals unfunded at cost of $1,820,000, what are these locations? I once performed an analysis of every approved signal not yet installed and rated each signal with a weighted number based on traffic volumes, accident history, etc. with the greatest weight placed on school signals,” said Miles Moss, former president, Kendall Federation of Homeowners Association and a traffic engineer.

“I suggest we ask Public Works for a list of each location funded and unfunded and if they have been weighted. Depending on the reason the signal is to be installed, we might be able to help get funds from sources like the transportation trust,” he added.

“The list on parks doesn’t include what’s planned but I do love parks and their viability is important to our community,” said Martha Backer. “I’d especially like to see a public pool at Camp Matecumbe and safety to life by decontaminating at Hammocks Park.

“Perhaps some people at Tamiami-Kendall Executive Airport can help with landscape projects. I do believe we could enlist everyone given community service by a judge spend double hours painting walls around our community — in one color, please,” she added.

“I would like to see an increase in private funding or community-based projects for the parks and landscaping,” said Patricia “Shannen” Davis, chair of Community Council 11. “Perhaps HOA’s and local groups could develop a coalition to raise funds and take control of these needs.”

Jane Walker said this indicated Kendall is being neglected, despite being a tax donor community. Frank Irizarry, former community council member and CAC chair, stressed infrastructure needs.

“[Storm drainage] has gotten so bad in many areas that road travel is blocked or severely hindered after only an hour of typical summer downpours. This also leads to dangerous traffic conditions.

“In addition to the esthetics of smooth sidewalks, what is most important is that the growing independence of our physically disabled is stunted, as they can’t navigate our sidewalks as able bodied residents do. Not to mention the safety hazard uneven sidewalks cause to everyone.”

The complete list of unfunded projects as last edited on Nov. 26, 2013 is located at < projects.asp>.

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