Council weighs fixes for Optimist Park

Government By David Snelling, Reporter Thursday, September 2, 2021

Voters may decide next year if the town can borrow as much as $26 million to fund a massive redevelopment of Miami Lakes Optimist Park.

“Those of us who have been here in this area for many years, this day... is long in coming,” Town Manager Ed Pidermann said during a council workshop on Aug. 26.

The council agreed, but not about how much to spend or how to pay for it.

The green space along Northwest 67th Avenue was built in 1970.

Children playing on the south end of the park use portable toilets, because running to restrooms in the clubhouse at the northeast corner of the 18-acre park delays play.

Some lights are on old wooden poles and are obsolete, the town said.

The fields flood and tennis and basketball courts are worn out.

Vice Mayor Luis Collazo also coaches baseball.

“We have to look parents in the face and explain to them why we have holes in the dugouts,” Collazo said.

The council will consider four options; each builds upon the one before it.

Option 1: $5 million. Renovate baseball fields, rebuild basketball courts, 12 new exercise stations, LED sports lights. Option 2: $13.5 million. Realign ball fields, rebuild basketball courts, new drainage, new light poles/ fixtures, six batting cages, 250 trees. Option 3: $18.7 million. New concession building, rebuilt tennis courts, covered basketball court, 120 parking spaces. Option 4: $26.6 million. A 10,000 sq.ft. building with a gym and meeting spaces.

The county school board owns 75 percent of the park and must approve the plans.

The council may approve designs before the end of the year and hold funding workshops -- whether to seek a loan or go the bond markets -- in December and January.

To see the plans go online.

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