|Little Park of Horrors|
|Written by Jim W. Harper -- BT Contributor|
Eastern Shores Tot Lot is a ghastly excuse for a play space
Eastern Shores hates children. That is the impression given by the neighborhood’s singular park: a tot lot with as much personality as mucus. You just want to blow it into a tissue and toss it away.
How ugly is your tot lot, Eastern Shores? Your park is so ugly that when you play there, your momma wears a blindfold. Your park is so ugly that your momma makes you wear a blindfold, too. Your park is ugly because Eastern Shores hates children.
Are there no children in this neighborhood? Yes, there are, because from the tot lot you can spy another playground in the distance. That much prettier playground is off-limits, however, because it belongs to a private daycare center. That place loves children. You can tell by the bright colors and plastic turtle tricycles and the black iron fence that protects them from the wicked witches of Eastern Shores.
Please, momma, please don’t make me go back to the ugly tot lot.
But I must go back. I must, for the sake of the forsaken children.
This sad little lot sits behind the Intracoastal Mall, and it is so well hidden that you will never find it (not that you would want to). To locate it, look due north while standing next to Tokyo Massage. There, in the distance -- way, way across a giant, empty parking lot -- is a dumpster. Hidden behind the dumpster is the park.
Eastern Shores Tot Lot was upgraded (really?) by the City of North Miami Beach in 2001, according to the city’s website. A newish-looking green tarp covers the playground area, but other parts appear more aged.
The saddest and ugliest part of this park is the faux-wood fence made of concrete. (Faux wood? Are you kidding me?) It even has latticework made of concrete. The slabs of concrete “timber” have a naturalistic wood grain, and they overlap each other in a somewhat convincing manner. The main problem with this illusion is that some pieces of concrete have cracked and fallen to the ground -- that, and the fact that the entire fence is the sad, ugly color of concrete.
What if a poor child is fooled by the faux timber and decides to knock on wood, or worse yet, bang his head against it? This situation shows how much Eastern Shores hates children.
There is one cute item within the tot lot. A bright red, yellow, and blue airplane stands ready for liftoff from a spongy runway. It has seating for up to six tiny passengers. But don’t be misled by appearances. This motionless airplane is designed to crush the dreams of little children by showing them that they will never go anywhere.
Next to the dream-killing plane stands a hideous green dinosaur. It moves! How is it possible that the extinct dinosaur moves, while the modern airplane does not? Don’t even get me started on the rusted picnic table. Gross.
The largest piece of equipment within the playground is what I’ll call the Fort of Death. While all playground forts offer some level of danger, this one should put the Department of Homeland Security on high alert. Why are there steps, if not for children to fall down? Why are the slides so short? Could they be trap doors to an unseen basement of torture? Also, it’s dirty.
The rest of the tot lot looks clean, which is no surprise, because it appears that no one ever visits. Some shoppers did visit at one point, but evidence indicates they may have seen a ghost. Their T.J. Maxx shopping carts lie abandoned at the park’s entrance, as if the people pushing them had fled in terror.
Did I mention that Eastern Shores hates children? They also hate the Kardashians, who were prevented from filming their new reality show there. (They found a more gullible taker in North Miami’s Sans Souci neighborhood, where they are currently residing, filming, and posing.)
From the looks of it, Eastern Shores also hates parks, but they sure do love canals. Most of Eastern Shores sits behind a gate, and virtually every home fronts a canal. From Google Maps, the land looks sliced and diced. You will get the picture if you imagine Darth Vader’s profile attacked by a giant egg slicer.
With a population of more than 4000 in Eastern Shores, why are there no parks? The tot lot, located outside the gated area, only serves tots. What about all the older children and adults who would appreciate the opportunity to be able to walk somewhere besides the mall? Maybe, to paraphrase the hip-hop wisdom of Coolio, the people of Eastern Shores suffer from spending most their lives livin’ in a shopper’s paradise.
Eastern Shores hates children, it hates pedestrians, and it hates parks. Eastern Shores has a few empty lots on waterfront designated for residential development, but until those pieces of real estate are snapped up in this dynamic market, why not convert them into pocket parks? Let me apologize… I started to think rationally for a second.
The Eastern Shores Tot Lot is an abomination. It has an ugly chain-link fence, an even uglier concrete fence, and it sits, like a dunce, in the corner of an oversize parking lot. The green tarp serves as its pointed cap. Underneath the cap is a little shop of horrors that sends both children and adults running away in terror, doing their best impression of Edvard Munch’s The Scream.
Don’t think about this park the next time you visit the Intracoastal Mall. Just enjoy yourself. I wonder: Is the movie theater still showing The Guilt Trip?
This review of the Eastern Shores Tot Lot in the City of North Miami Beach was brought to you by Kleenex, the best brand for wiping away snot.
Volume 14, Issue 8, October 2016
The late Andy Sweet’s photos bring to life a bygone era
Sales, special events, and more from the people who make Biscayne Times possible