Parking on swale along NW 170th St. draws scrutiny from councilman, residents and police

Education By Linda Trischitta, Editor Friday, February 16, 2024

      The quarter-mile walking trail along Northwest 170th Street is bordered by a canal on the south side and what has become an illegal parking lot on the swale on the north side.

      A resident’s complaint to the SeeClickFix app prompted the town on Feb. 1 to post No Parking signs along the swale.      

     Miami-Dade Police officers warned drivers -- who have been parking between the bridge to unincorporated Miami-Dade County and Hialeah and Northwest 87th Avenue during the day and overnight -- that beginning Feb. 5, they would be cited. 

     By mid-day that Monday, tickets that cost $46 were placed on four vehicles, police said.

     “It appeared that in the mornings, the students from Mater Academy were parking there,” said Maj. Jose Gonzalez, who runs the Miami-Dade Police district that protects Miami Lakes. “We’ve seen them park there and walk northbound on 89th Avenue to the school.”

     Gonzalez said officers noticed the parking problem was “an all day and all night thing. It was people from the apartments on the other side of the bridge and we see people getting dropped off.  They’re treating it like an overflow parking lot.”

    Officers met with staff at the school and management at the apartment buildings in unincorporated Miami-Dade County to tell them about the patrol plan, that “No Parking” signs had been installed and vehicles would be ticketed, Gonzalez said.

     “We’re going to continue to have officers there in the morning and afternoon to continue education,” Gonzalez said. “They may not notice the new signs. I like to be fair with it.”

     Mater Lakes Academy’s Assistant Principal Alice Martinez said, “Police met with us and we let students know they can register and park on campus.” 

     A person at the Natura Gardens Apartments leasing office who did not want his name published said management met with officers and that the issue was addressed.

     Gonzalez and Councilman Luis Collazo both said with just two lanes in the stretch between the bridge and Northwest 87th Avenue, there is a safety issue if people are getting out of cars while in traffic.

     “It’s dangerous because they are doing unnecessary stopping, there is only one lane and you can’t even go around them,” Gonzalez said. “We have run radar out there because there is a lot of speeding there, westbound during the afternoons.”

      Collazo said Town Manager Edward Pidermann is proposing a curb along the swale to deter parking. 

     Pidermann said that such a barrier is not yet a funded project. 

     Collazo said that the intention for the asphalt walk was to make it a passive park.

     In 2022, the town debuted “Water Glow,” an art installation on the asphalt path the town called the MiGlo Trail. 

     Inspired by maps of the bottom of Biscayne Bay, artist Carola Bravo created a glow-in-the-dark painting for the path. 

     The Miami Foundation awarded $25,000 in 2019 to the town in a public space challenge grant that rewarded mobility projects.

     The artwork is made from paint that is powered by the sun and is reflective at night. 

     The goals of the vibrant, undulating patterns created by Bravo were to improve safety and aesthetics.

    “What I would like is to send an official notification to the management companies and to the school that moving forward, ticketing is what we intend to do,” Collazo said. “I went over there to physically see it during the day, and it was a speed trap coming down that bridge.  Making sure that the county puts in a stoplight or something is important, even if there wasn’t parking there. Parking there is putting your life in someone else’s hands.”

     On the afternoon of Feb. 11, there were no cars parked on the swale.