At the last South Miami Commission meeting, I joined several concerned residents who reside on 64th street (Hardee Rd.) in speaking out during Public Remarks against an ill-conceived bicycle path from 62nd Ave. to 69th ave. Although my wife, kids and I, own bikes and enjoy an occasional bike ride, the thought of destroying 50-year-old Poinciana trees along with numerous oak trees was something we consider to be abhorrent. Certainly, eradicating the habitats of countless birds for a bicycle path that would lead only part of the way to a closed Ludlum Trail was reason enough to oppose this particular route. Another sad and unfortunate issue was that the stakeholders, the residents most negatively impacted, who pay their taxes and reside on 64th street, were not even officially notified by the city! We all know for a fact that the vast majority of South Miami Middle and High School students reside east of 67th avenue and will always use 65th avenue to avoid the speeding traffic on 64th street and 67th avenue in order to get to school.
Adding insult to injury, the resolution was hidden in the Consent Agenda, ready for a quick approval, as if it were a resolution approving the purchase of paper clips, or the repair of a copy machine. The lack of transparency had once again raised its ugly head! Also, as I stated during Public Remarks, the consultants for the “bicycle path to nowhere,” surveyed only 113 individuals, none of which live on 64th street west of 62nd Avenue. One hundred-thirteen residents out of approximately 13 thousand South Miami residents equates to less than 0.9% of our city! In addition, one would think that with a substandard capital improvement budget in our taxpayer funded general fund, wise and prudent use of our tax dollars would be observed.
However, the fact is, you cannot “mitigate” years of landscaping and investment by the property owners on 64th street, especially when the proposed, “bike path” will serve a negligible fraction of real bicyclists. You can’t “mitigate” 50 year old trees or, the habitats of countless birds as the Marlin study suggests. Let us create instead, a comprehensive and forward-thinking bike path which will serve more bicyclists both east and west of the Palmetto Expressway, such as, on Sunset Dr. and Miller Road. Let us create bicycle paths which will be even more accessible to the Ludlum Trail by both pedestrians and bicyclists, alike. Moreover, let us urge the current South Miami leadership to demand that the County expedite the clean-up of the recently discovered chemical contaminants on the Ludlum Trail, in order to provide a safe path to the underline and Dadeland…. The path that the vast majority will use!
Thank you, Vice Mayor Harris, Commissioners Gil, and Liebman for making sure that saving our trees, common sense and transparency prevailed.
Former S.M Mayor, Horace G. Feliu served on the Commission that worked to make the Ludlum Trail (Rails to Trail) a reality, and as Mayor, created the Green Task Force.