Sunset Harbour Pump Screen Installation Anticipated this Fall

Sunset Harbour

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Sunset Harbour Pump Screen Installation Anticipated this Fall:

Project will double as neighborhood entrance sign

The Sunset Harbour neighborhood is finally getting architectural screening to cover the large pump station installed across from the Publix on 20th Street as part of Miami Beach’s efforts to combat sea level rise. It is not an insignificant structure… it will do double duty as a welcome sign and will be lit at night. Its price tag is not insignificant either: $792,000 which is $738,000 more than the City’s original budget. During one of its July meetings, the City Commission voted to use money from the Miami-Dade County Interlocal Agreement to fund the gap. 
One of the big complaints about the City’s resiliency efforts has been that they’re ugly. There's the large pump stations and the electrical panels that go with them, generators, and lots of cement. 
While the City received Design Review Board (DRB) approval for landscaping and architectural screening for the pump stations in January, 2017, their costs were not funded. Despite getting mostly high marks from an Urban Land Institute (ULI) review of the City’s resiliency efforts, the lack of aesthetics was one noted deficiency. To fix that, the City included $43 million in funding for above ground improvements associated with upcoming stormwater/water and sewer neighborhood improvement projects in the General Obligation Bond program approved by voters last November.

In a Letter to Commission, Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales said community representatives “indicated a desire to screen the area with an attractive enclosure, indicative of their neighborhood. They rejected the type of perforated metal suggested in the City’s approved prototype and requested a more decorative design that would also become a neighborhood entrance sign.”
At the July meeting, Morales acknowledged, “It’s not an inexpensive item. Remember this was designed by Pininfarina who does Ferraris as directed by the previous Commission. The screening alone is half that amount.” In addition to transportation design including yachts and aircraft, Pininfarina also does industrial design, architecture and interior design and “built environment projects” including the design for Miami Beach’s new bus shelters that won the 2019 Red Dot Design Concept Category of Highest Design Quality.
“It’s a big cost,” Mayor Dan Gelber said. “On the other hand, I think it’s a terrible eyesore.” 

The Sunset Harbour pump station on 20th Street as it looks today

Commissioner Ricky Arriola who lives across from the pump station said, “The screen is a long time in coming. This is not one of my projects but the neighborhood would be very upset if they didn’t get it because they’ve been promised it for years. The tradeoff to have this big ugly pump was that we would beautify it.”
Referencing the ULI report, Gelber said, “We’ve got to be able to do this resiliency without challenging the aesthetics and the quality of life. This is expensive guys but, on the other hand, I feel like we have to let people know that we’re willing to do this.”
Commissioner Michael Góngora said, “I don’t like this item. I’m going to go along with it but it seems to me like a ton of money for what it is.”
“Part of the thing that’s so egregious,” Góngora said, “is that over $200,000 of it is just to remove what’s currently there… so I’m hopeful in the future that whatever we’re going to do we just do it once and get it done because it’s crazy. We’re spending $212,000 just to take down what’s there and for this very expensive screening so I don’t like it. I guess it’s approved, we have the funds, and we’ll do it but it’s not an item I like where I want to keep seeing it coming back.”
The cost of the screening is $375,000. The $212,000 to replace the concrete traffic barrier and foundations is necessary to support the screen structure which is designed to withstand a category 5 hurricane.  Architectural and engineering fees total $117,000. The remaining $88,000 is for project contingency and project administration costs.
Commissioner John Alemán said, “I don’t want all the screens to cost this much. This is not the only location where we’re going to need to screen the pump.” She urged the City Administration to find “a cheaper screen… that is still beautiful but maybe not this level of expenditure for whatever’s the next one.”
“This is the special,” Commissioner Joy Malakoff said. “Everything else has to be more reasonable.”
David Martinez, Miami Beach Director of Capital Improvement Projects, told Commissioners the location and size of the pump leave little room for options. Noting Malakoff ‘s preference for landscaping, he said, “Landscaping is the first thing we’ll look at because it’s a lot more sustainable and what have you, but in this particular case there’s really not a lot of room to do anything other than enclose [it].”
In his Letter to Commission following the meeting, Morales gave a more detailed description of the screen. “The project includes the installation of 180 linear feet of decorative perforated stainless-steel screen panels along the perimeter of the pump station… The height of the screens will vary from 9 feet to 3 feet, above existing concrete traffic barriers. The panels will be attached to stainless steel posts, with stainless steel anchors. Stainless steel components, considered to be the most durable for the site conditions, were selected due to their structural characteristic and to minimize the future maintenance of the system. Signage with accent lighting delineating the entrance to the Sunset Harbour Neighborhood will be incorporated into the eastern façade of the screen.”

“A Grecian style perforated metal was selected by the representatives of the neighborhood,” Morales continued.  “The Grecian style perforated metal requires a special water jet cutting process to create the perforations in the metal. This process is substantially more expensive than that required for the ‘bubble’ design included in the City’s prototype.” (See rendering below.)
Next step is the development of construction documents which are expected to be completed this month. A contract is anticipated to be awarded next month with construction starting in October 2019. It is projected to take approximately 4 months.
Renderings: City of Miami Beach

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