By Christopher J. Russo, Former City Manager
(Tuesday, May 14, 2019) – Summer is a time for vitality and energy. This season, our sense of invigoration for capital improvement projects is growing to new heights as we complete some long-term projects and lay the groundwork for even more.
The Central Island Drainage Project is currently in its final stages. Twenty-six wells were cleaned and tested, and we are already seeing improved performance on our streets. Throughout the upcoming months, the work will continue as the outfalls and drainage structures in the entire City are cleaned. And though our drainage system has been improved, it is now all of our responsibility to keep our storm drains clear of debris and waste. You can do your part by not littering and reporting any drain blockages that you notice. As a coastal city, Sunny Isles Beach is more intensely affected by King Tides, and while the City cannot mitigate the occurrence of King Tides, maintaining clear storm drains will expedite water drainage and quickly clear our roadways as soon as the tide recedes.
Also nearly complete is the mangrove mitigation project in the area of the former skate park. Once the planting of additional native mangroves in this area is finished, we will work to design an innovative park concept to accommodate a meditation garden in consultation with the Public Arts Advisory Committee. Improving our parks is a top priority and with children out of school for the summer season, we are undertaking much-needed parks projects. Town Center Park will be receiving a new gazebo this summer which will offer relief from our Florida sun at one of our most popular summer play areas.
As I have previously discussed, the Gateway Park build-out is projected to begin shortly. The bids for a contractor were received in March, and we are looking forward to a grand opening in spring of 2020. The multi-faceted facility will feature recreation and education space for seniors, teens, and other special programming. The senior component was largely championed by former Commissioner Roslyn Brezin. We mourn her passing this past February and know that she would have been overjoyed to see this project come to fruition. The enthusiasm she fostered will continue to grow through the donation program her family set up for this Gateway Center project in her honor.
A major effort we are undertaking to enhance the safe passage around our City is the construction of pedestrian bridges that provide a reprieve from traversing across Collins Avenue. Following the great success of the North Bay Road Pedestrian Bridge, we are currently in the design phases for two additional pedestrian bridges to reach new heights over Collins. The Government Center Pedestrian Bridge is well into the design phase as the conceptual design was approved by the Commission this past February. The 174 Street Bridge is now in the conceptual design phase. We are planning an open air and park-like concept that is going to add not only a functional necessity to our City but also an aesthetically pleasing space for all to enjoy. These highly-anticipated projects have long lead times with approval required from multiple outside agencies. We anticipate construction to commence in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed their beach sand renourishment project last year, which brought approximately 150,000 cubic yards of sand to our beach. And this year, we are scheduled to receive more than 80,000 cubic yards of sand from private developers. This past April, the Army Corps of Engineers assessed the condition of existing submerged breakwaters as we pursue other viable erosion mitigation options.
Sustaining a proactive City can often become difficult for some governments. Fortunately, we have the staff and resources to foresee potential issues in our City. The Golden Shores Pump Station was overhauled 15 years ago and though functioning at maximum capacity, the pump station is currently being evaluated for upgrades as it is our goal to prevent the potential for failures in the future.
If our excellent staff is the heart of the City, our capital improvement projects are the backbone. As Sunny Isles Beach celebrates its 22nd anniversary this June, we can appreciate the hard work and initiatives taken to ensure our continued growth and development. Every day we are innovating, developing, and executing projects designed to improve the lives of our residents and visitors. We will continue to keep you updated on the most recent capital improvement project advancements on our website and on our social media pages.