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Written by Janet Goodman, BT Contributor   
January 2016

Military Trail Park expansion brings praise from Shorecrest neighborhood 

EParkPatrol_1ver since the July 2009 dedication of Military Trail Park (MTP), Miami’s Shorecrest residents have rallied their hopes around a county purchase of the foreclosed adjacent property. Sometimes wishes do come true.

In September 2015, this additional acre of open greenspace was finally acquired by Miami-Dade County, costing $740,000 -- and nearly doubling the size of the existing 1.58 acre park, which was bought in early 2001.

From the get-go, according to Laura Phillips, public information officer for Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation & Open Spaces, local residents have been the driving force behind making Military Trail Park and its expansion more than just a pipe dream.

“Military Trail Park was purchased to address a lack of open space in the Shorecrest/Aqua Vista neighborhoods,” says Phillips, explaining that the need was brought to the attention of the Parks Department by local residents. “They established a homeowners association to work with the department to identify appropriate land to purchase, and to assist with developing a general plan for this and a nearby site (North Shorecrest Park).”

She adds that at MTP, “the community wanted a passive refuge where they could walk or relax in the shade -- a quiet retreat for adults.” So they set in motion a plan to preserve much of the mature tree canopy on the site and plant new trees and garden areas.

ParkPatrol_2Not much has changed in the park since it officially opened six and a half years ago. A concrete footpath still serpents through the park, past a half-dozen HealthBeat fitness machines, two rough-hewn picnic tables, and four wooden benches. Massive mango trees, immature pines, gumbo limbo, sabal and saw palmetto, cassia, oaks, and black olives reign supreme, and a six-foot painted masonry wall on the north side is landscaped with bougainvillea and cactus.

The south end along NE 89th Street is essentially open, partially lined with a two-foot coral-limestone wall and matching pillars instead of gates, so the park is always accessible, though officially closed from sunset to sunrise as posted. A bike rack was installed by this entrance.

Tony Gomez is a regular here. Every day he walks his dog first, and then dives into a workout regimen of his own on the equipment. He knows too well what’s really lacking at MTP: “We definitely need a water fountain installed!”

Phillips gives credit to the homeowners association for being instrumental in choosing the park’s name, but what’s also still missing is a historical marker explaining what took place here to back up the county sign’s claim that this is a historic park (see “Looks Like a Job for Oscar the Grouch,” July 2009).

ParkPatrol_3Archeologist, local historian, and Loxahatchee Battlefield Preservationists member Richard J. Procyk explains in his book Guns Across the Loxahatchee that in 1838, during the Second Seminole War, Maj. William Lauderdale and his battalion of Tennessee Volunteers cut a trail through hammocks and swamps from Fort Jupiter to New River (modern-day Broward County), where they built a fort that became Fort Lauderdale.

Later the trail was continued south through Arch Creek, and on to Fort Dallas (modern-day Miami). For the next 20 years during the Second and Third Seminole Wars, the Lauderdale Trail was used to move military supplies and soldiers, eventually becoming known as the Military Trail.

Procyk’s expertise in the Seminole Wars history led to his authorship, along with the Town of Jupiter Historic Resources Board, of the text for the Military Trail historical marker located in Jupiter. He believes it’s important that a marker be placed in the Shorecrest park as well.

“It’s a pity -- young people need to know this history,” he says. “The Trail played an important role in the decades-long struggle for Florida. This was the link between Fort Jupiter and Fort Dallas and every other settlement in between. Because of this first-established road, wagon trains, mules, and men were able to pass through without the problem of marching through swamps. Almost all of the generals and high commanders during the Civil War got their training in Florida.”

ParkPatrol_4

Important, too, he says, is its shameful part in the history of Indian removal to the West and return of runaway slaves to plantations.

Shorecrest Homeowners Association’s president, Troy W. Howard, has lived in the neighborhood for seven years. “I’ve heard about Military Trail Park in meetings and conversation since moving here. Of course we in Shorecrest are happy that the county purchased the additional property to expand the park.”

He readily acknowledges that his predecessor (and former BT columnist), Ken Jett, worked on the park’s expansion: “Shorecrest is a gem of a neighborhood that’s now catching the attention of developers. The more land we can have protected from out-of-scale development, the better.” (See “The High Costs of High Density,” March 2015)

Although MTP is designated a dog-friendly park with two pet waste stations, allowing visitors to walk dogs on-leash only, may dog owners ignore signs and unclip their canines once inside the park. Plans for a fenced-in dog park in the newly acquired east lot will hopefully redirect all “off-leashers” there.

ParkPatrol_5Carlos Moega comes with his seven-year-old English bull terrier, Nikki, to enjoy the park’s open spaces. News of the expansion and dog park plans makes him smile. “Nikki will love that.”

“Walking trails, open play areas, lighting, site furniture, landscaping, and access-control fencing are also in the future plans for the park expansion,” says Phillips of Parks, Recreation & Open Spaces. “Currently, it’s expected that about $250,000 of bond money will be available for future improvements.”

The next improvement slated for the original site is to light the existing walkways, she says, and Troy Howard agrees that lighting is a priority. Construction for this is scheduled for summer 2016.

Neighborhood resident and local Keller Williams Realtor Barbi Triana says future dog park activity might cause excitement among her own dogs, too -- more barking, she means; but she does like the idea of finally something being done with the vacant land across the street from her house.

Shorecrest HOA president Howard is also pleased. “I haven’t heard any negative opinions about the purchase,” he notes. “I can’t imagine anyone having an issue with this.”

 

 

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Park_map

Military Trail Park
825 NE 89th St.
Miami, FL 33138
305-944-8670


Park Rating
palm-1palm-1palm-1palm-05palm-0

 

Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

Picnic Tables: Yes
Barbecues: No
Picnic pavilions: No
Tennis courts: No
Athletic fields: No
Night lighting: No
Swimming pool: No
Exercise equipment: Yes
 

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