By Susan Simpson, Director, Cultural & Community Services
(June 19, 2013) – After 18 months of closure due to the demolition and construction of the Newport Fishing Pier in Sunny Isles Beach, Pier Park reopened on Sunday, June 16, 2013. Did you know? Pier Park was the City’s first park. This small parcel of land was owned and operated by Miami-Dade County as Gilbert Samson Memorial Park, named after founding Mayor David Samson’s son. In December of 1999, Miami-Dade County, through an Interlocal Agreement, granted the parcel to the City with certain restrictions. Key requirements included: the park must remain open to the public without restriction, a minimum of 29 parking spaces must be maintained and available to the public, a lifeguard station and the park must be maintained at the same or better level of service as existed by Miami-Dade County.
At that time Pier Park was merely a parking lot adjacent to the Newport Hotel and provided the direct access to the beach and the fishing pier and housed the City’s only lifeguard station. Since then, the City has made several improvements. In 2004, the City entered into an easement agreement to permit the development now known as La Perla to utilize Pier Park as their ingress and egress to their property. Without this arrangement, La Perla could not have been built on that site. Site size limitations as well as direct access to Collins Avenue were challenges that needed to be overcome. With the development of La Perla, more upgrades were made to the park that included a new walkway, pavers that were to distinguish between the public property of the park and the private property of La Perla, landscaping and lighting enhancements and the replacement of the parking attendant booth with parking meters. During this construction the restroom was also added.
With the most recent construction of the Newport Fishing Pier, the City refurbished the restrooms, updated the landscaping, and added new beach showers. This park continues to be the emergency access for the south end of the City and the main access to the pier.
Although Miami-Dade County expressed concern over the length of the closure to public parking, they are pleased with the improvements that the City has made and looks forward to the reopening. You may wonder why the parking is so important to the county. In addition to the requirements set forth in the Interlocal Agreement, a minimum number of public parking spaces are required for the State of Florida to continue to provide funding for beach renourishment projects along our beaches. The City benefited from a renourishment project in 2009 that would otherwise have cost the city and county combined more than $2 million.
If you go – Pier Park is located at 16501 Collins Avenue. There are 4 handicap restricted parking spaces, 2 official-use reserved and 23 unrestricted parking spaces. Parking meters are available and accept cash and credit cards. Rates are $2 per hour, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. The meters are ‘pay and display’ so no need to feed the meter and go back and place the receipt in your window. Just remember your space number and enter it with your payment. Keep in mind that it is also an emergency access and a driveway. When space is not available, use one of the city’s other public parking lots. Do not block the access. One male and one female restroom are available during pier operational hours. A lifeguard stand guards the beach seven days per week and beach conditions can be checked before you head out by calling 305.792.1940 or visit the City’s official website at www.sibfl.net.
For Parking Enforcement questions or concerns, please call the City at 305.792.1705.