The Biscayne Times

Tuesday
Jun 18th
A Park With Potential PDF Print E-mail
Written by Janet Goodman, BT Contributor   
October 2015

Biscayne Shores and Gardens Park is waiting to bloom 

ParkPatrol_1If you’ve ever gone house hunting, you’ve probably heard a Realtor describe a property as having “potential.”

Translation: This space is a fixer-upper; it needs some work. The back yard is big, but there’s no pool, no landscaping. The floors are original Dade County pine, but they need repair and refinishing. Use your imagination to fill in the blanks. With some cash and elbow grease, the possibilities are there.

The same can be said of a virtually untouched 6.5-acre expanse in northeast Dade called Biscayne Shores and Gardens Park. Located at 11525 NE 14th Ave. in unincorporated Miami-Dade, and acquired in 1972 by the third-largest county park system in the U.S. -- Miami-Dade County Parks Recreation & Open Spaces -- very little has changed within its boundaries over the past 43 years.

This passive park has no restrooms and no parking lot. Visitors must maneuver vehicles onto adjacent swales, though the average park users seem to be neighborhood residents who walk their dogs or cut through the park to get to nearby businesses on Biscayne Boulevard.

ParkPatrol_2

During the week, occasional utility workers stop by for brown-bag lunch breaks on picnic tables (the BT counted nine tables in the park and not one pavilion), but most daylight hours are eerily inactive, with the exception of a homeless patron or two resting by their shopping carts, or lone young men smoking marijuana cigarettes on one of a dozen green metal benches.

“Miami-Dade Parks works closely with Miami-Dade Police Department and the Homeless Trust in identifying those in need of their assistance,” says Laura Phillips, media information officer for the county parks department. “A recent audit conducted by park staff of homeless frequenting the park didn’t reveal any evidence of anyone sleeping in the park. All patrons, regardless of their economic status, are welcome in county parks during posted operating hours as long as they abide by all park rules and regulations.”

Phillips points out that parks enforcement officers do conduct “watch order” details in response to patron complaints and/or concerns. Each watch order is good for 30 days and targets a particular activity and time of occurrence. During the past 12 months, the park has been placed on a 30-day watch order two times.

ParkPatrol_3

The park’s inactivity is really a shame, for it is graced with beautiful grassy fields chock full of towering royal palms, flowering royal poincianas, lychee, and mango trees meant to be seen and enjoyed. An anonymous community Johnny Appleseed of sorts has performed the good deed of planting nearly 40 trees here over the years (many were mowed down by the county) to enhance the area, including exotics like rainbow eucalyptus and African sausage trees.

Poor drainage leads to some flooding, so “Johnny” planted a swamp-friendly ecosystem in the wettest part of the park. Even a studded African silk floss tree can be found by the northern perimeter sidewalk along NE 116th Street.

Grass is well maintained by the county, but during each visit by the BT this summer, litter was an issue. Only four trash receptacles are provided in the park, and pockets of empty Busch beer and Coke cans, water bottles, and, curiously, New Amsterdam Mango Vodka containers never quite make it inside the bins.

One pet waste station for this designated dog-friendly park (on-leash dogs only) is smartly located street-side by the northeast entrance, but its full-to-the brim basket could hold no more poop bags.

A cement cinderblock wall dividing the eastern end of the park and adjacent business property is ablaze in graffiti, as are some nearby tree trunks.

ParkPatrol_4Besides the ample flora, winding concrete footpaths throughout are park highlights. Ride along on bicycles; push the strollers or wheelchairs, or just hoof it to really take in the park. Ladies: since the park is often empty, go with a friend (a two-legged friend or a big, furry four-legged one).

Early evenings see a slight bump in activity here. A domino game pops up on a picnic table, both grills fire up, and a couple of joggers hit the paths, but by sunset everyone must go, or they’ll have to feel their way out -- there is no lighting.

For the past three months, a local youth soccer group has cast the brightest light within the park. In search of a welcoming neighborhood park where they could train for a tournament this month, M’Kaddesh Soccer Club landed here and practices twice a week after school in the unmarked field. Organized by coach Carlos Penaranda and his friendly wife, Sandra, and supported by parents, this group is made up of two teams of kids ages 9-14, mostly living on the same block in nearby Sans Souci.

ParkPatrol_5They’re grateful for a free space where youngsters can exercise, blow off steam, and learn teamwork and good sportsmanship while enhancing their soccer skills. The experience here has been mostly a positive one, though wafts of burning cannabis coming from benches 40 feet away make some of the parents shake their heads; the players seem unaware.

The club is one of the first signs of change at the park -- that and a surveyor team taking measurements one recent morning. Sometime in the near future, the flock of white ibis foraging for grub worms and the bufos sitting still in the park’s swampy grass will be competing with Bobcats and Caterpillars (the mechanical kind).

The county has building plans to transform this passive park. “We’re currently in design for two projects,” says parks information officer Phillips. “The first is a 3000-square-foot community center with related parking and lighting [costing $1.7 million]. The second is a new playground and new shelters. There’ll also be landscape improvements, along with some walkway modifications as part of this project [costing $1 million].”

At last, this park is on the cusp of realizing its potential. Let’s hope the county makes these improvements while retaining what’s best about this longtime open space: its green habitat.

Please keep the rainbow eucalyptus, the African silk floss, and all those royal palms!

 

 

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Park_map

Biscayne Shores and Gardens Park
11525 NE 14th Ave.
Miami, FL 33161


Park Rating
palm-1palm-1palm-1palm-0palm-0

 

Hours: 
Sunrise to sunset
Picnic Tables: Yes
Barbecues: Yes
Picnic pavilions: No
Tennis courts: No
Athletic fields: No
Night lighting: No
Swimming pool: No
Playground: No

 

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