Friday, November 30, 2007

The Shameful Condition of North Miami Parks And A Reply From Councilman Scott Galvin

Back in the 1950's this had been the site of Helker's Yacht Basin, but Hurricane Donna in 1960 did it in. A dozen years later the City of North Miami embarked on the ambitious task of acquiring new park land and beautifying the ones we already had. Helker's was transformed into a pretty little bayfront park where North Bayshore Drive meets the beginning of Broad Causeway, which heads over to the beaches.

A fishing pier was constructed out into Biscayne Bay. At various times of the year the fishing could be fast and furious as fish migrated north and south with the seasons. You could about always come up with enough grunts and mangrove snapper for the table. Jack crevalle, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel appeared in the fall, chasing the mullet schools south. It was a convenient spot for kids on bikes or retirees walking over from the nearby condos. The rest of us found a nice parking lot near the beginning of the pier.

Wood is wood, and whether or not it's pressure treated it gets a rotten board here and there, termites find it an appealing home, and even galvanized nails eventually rust. Wooden structures near water require maintainance. The city ignored the problem way too long. Then I suppose it was "too expensive to repair" and they put up this chain link fence to keep people from using the pier. The chained and locked gate is now in deplorable condition, more unsightly than the pier itself.

The bigger problem though, is the neighborhood itself. The park is in a neighborhood of expensive waterfront homes with nice boats tied up along their docks. Paranoia! The park attracts "the wrong element". The kids on bikes and middle class folk who come here to fish or watch the pelicans must really be coming here to case the neighborhood, plan a robbery, maybe even steal a Mercedes. Suddenly the perception is that the pier is an "attractive nuisance" best shut down. The cops will tell you that most neighborhood crime is by kids in the neighborhood. Even upper class kids steal cars and break into houses. Hell, they're likely to have a better idea about how to sneak past the alarm system than kids who've never seen an alarm system!

The city gets an unused park that still has to be mowed and the rich folks get a disgusting eyesore at the entrance to their exclusive enclave. The retirees stay home and play cards in their condos, the rich folks fish out of their boats, and the rest of us be damned. That wasn't the vision of the North Miami Parks system back around 1970 when we all voted for a bond issue to pay for all these parks. Even the pelicans avoid the place. There's no one there to feed them fish scraps and leftover bait.

BUT IT NOW APPEARS THAT THERE IS HOPE! I just received an email from Scott Galvin. (He really does read this blog...LOL):

"You'll be glad to know that we budgeted $150,000 this year to repair the boardwalk. Once that's fixed, the park will be reopened to the public. Then, we will add a new "dog park" section where folks can bring their pooches to play.

"Work starts in January :)"

Remember, folks! You read it here first! And thank you Scott Galvin!


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