Stalemate broken, Community Park Moves Forward

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Stalemate broken, Community Park Moves Forward:

parks advisory board approves plans for former par 3 park; also changes to allison park

The friction between the designer of the proposed Community Park on the site of the former Par 3 Golf Course and the City appears to have lessened and, while not everyone is happy, plans are moving forward to the Design Review Board.
Tensions ran high at the City Commission meeting in April when consideration was given to terminating the agreement with Savino & Miller Design Studio. Neighborhood residents spoke in favor of the firm’s passive design with lots of green space while City reps said the design was not responsive to the needs of the entire City. The Park was scheduled to begin construction in the Spring of 2016 and be completed this Summer, however, it has not made it out of the design phase.
Of greatest concern in the design that includes a lake and rolling hills was if there was enough flat space for kids to play. The tension boiled over when City officials said they were frustrated that the designers were not responsive to requests for revisions.
Barry Miller told the Commissioners in April, “Our contract …  and the will of [a former] Commission, called for design of a passive park. This is what we’ve designed.” In the meantime, he said he has incorporated all of the feedback from the City and added a tennis court, exercise courses, more playing fields, and a reduced lake size. What was created he said, “We believe to be some of our finest work and we’re very proud of it.” Despite rumors to the contrary, Miller said everything is on budget. With community support and a project on budget, he said,  “We wonder why this has come to be.”
At the April meeting, Commissioner Joy Malakoff called Miller, a 30-year resident of the City, "a good landscape architect" but said, “The question is if this is the park the original Commission committed to do, which is supposed to appeal to the City of Miami Beach. It’s for the entire city so kids can play there, so grownups can go there to enjoy the water features… whether that is what was produced by the consultant is what we are here to discuss.”
Commissioner John Alemán said the design was “very beautiful” but she indicated guidance had not been fully taken and, now, “The schedule about this is off the chain… it’s now been a year because we don’t have agreement.”
Miller has “a conflict of interest” as a park neighbor Commissioner Ricky Arriola told him. As a vendor he said Miller should be saying, “I want to work with you.” Instead, he said there are delays because Miller doesn’t like the changes that are recommended by the City.
But… cooler heads prevailed and after a meeting of Parks and Facilities Advisory Board Chair Carolina Jones, Miller, and partner Adriana Savino, the three thought it was worth another round of discussion with the Parks Board. This week, Miller and Savino further discussed their plans including increased space for flat fields and a smaller lake. The group expressed appreciation for the quality of the work and effort of the designers while disagreeing, in some cases, with the overall uses of the Park. A couple of Board members would have liked to eliminate the lake and include more playing space but Capital Improvement Projects Director David Martinez noted that the uses were guided by the original RFP and could not be changed. The group voted 6-2 to approve the plans with one change to increase the size of a smaller play area. Commissioners Alemán and Malakoff attended the Parks Advisory Board meeting and were satisfied with the changes. The plans now move to the Design Review Board for consideration.
Allison Park: Meanwhile, it seems the only ones happy with the ground cover at the almost completed Allison Park are the feral cats who are using the wood mulch as a giant litter box. Capital Improvement Projects Director David Martinez said when the park was planned, there were concerns over “crumbs” from poured-in-place rubber ground covers so wood mulch was substituted but, after complaints from neighborhood residents about its attraction to the cats and comments from the disabled community that the mulch is not the best ground cover for the ADA playground and fitness area, his group is suggesting installing the rubber. It will be on the City Commission agenda next week.

Image: Savino & Miller Design Studio

Allison Park groundbreaking


Susan Askew
Susan Askew
park to be City's first ADA accessible beach and outdoor recreational facility