Miami Lakes residents are hesitant about Optimist Park renovations

Miami Lakes officials continued to toss around costs of Optimist Park renovations, determined, Mayor Manny Cid said in the May 14th council meeting, to dismiss the current method that finances expenditures with available funds.

But some of the residents are hesitant about the renovations due to the $17.5 million the council was planning to spend.

“We need to live within our means,” said town resident Claudia Luces.

Optimist Park is located on 6411 NW 162nd St, near the Miami Lakes Optimist Clubhouse. Town documents state the clubhouse was recently demolished and replaced by a 5,000-square foot multi-purpose facility that will consist of a clubhouse and concession stand, administrative offices, multi-purpose rooms and additional parking.”

While restrooms were added near the clubhouse, some town residents complained about the portable restrooms at the end of the park.

Optimist Park current restrooms.
Photo by Amanda La Rosa.

“That area is an eyesore,” said Miami Lakes resident Lynn Matos.

The park’s condition has caused many residents to use the parks in other cities such as Doral, Weston, and Pembroke Pines.

“I think that everybody agrees that we need improvements to the park,” said town resident Alberto Aguiar, “but can we do it financially?”

Optimist Park plays an integral role in the community the town is trying to cultivate, said Cid, who believes the town will gain value if public safety, infrastructure, and parks and recreation services are done well.

“I was a high school senior when they started talking about redeveloping Optimist Park. Now I am 35 years old and the mayor of Miami Lakes,” he said. “And it is still being talked about.”

The master plan for the park includes replacing existing baseball and softball fields, four basketball courts and four tennis courts. Park improvements also include a bathroom and concession facility, an extended walking trail with exercise stations, new lighting and sewage systems, additional parking, an airnasium outdoor sports facility, and open-space areas for football or soccer.

Optimist Park field box. Photo by Amanda La Rosa.

On the May 14 council meeting, Councilmember Marilyn Ruano sided with residents who want imrovements at a low cost. She said the price for the park’s renovation should not be more than $8 million.

Councilmembers agreed that different renovation plans for Optimist Park are going to be considered in order to choose a lower cost with only essential amenities.

“The fact is that the cost of construction gets more expensive,” said Cid. “There is what is called construction inflation and after 17 years prices have increased.”

On the June 4 council meeting, Vice Mayor Nelson Rodriguez suggested staff members look over options to renovate three parks: East Park (Optimist Park), Central Park, and West Park (Bridge Park).

“Every resident is going to pay for this,” said Rodriguez, “and every resident in their community should be able to share in the use of a park close to their home if they’re going to pay.”

Rodriguez said that residents would only have to pay $40 to $50 per year in property tax for a project of $11.5 million, which would include the three parks, and perhaps two more.

Town staff will continue to look over other options and their costs, along with Rodriguez’s proposal.

Rodriguez also said it is important to keep town residents notified of all the options available.

“I think that a group of residents should be involved in the supervising and recommendation of the parks and what we want,” he said.

Amanda La Rosa is a driven journalist in search of the truth. As an international relations major, her goal is to inform readers of the events around the globe. She seeks to bring inspiration to others with her passion for writing.