|Easy on the Feet|
|Written by Janet Goodman, BT Contributor|
Officer Scott A. Winters Park gets new turf -- and more
The busiest park in Bay Harbor Islands was closed for renovations until recently.
From August 15 through October 12, Officer Scott A. Winters Park, previously known as 98th Street Park, was cordoned off and activities suspended while the town managed the renovation project. During this time, only the small, fenced-in portion designated as a dog park remained open for community use.
According to JC Jimenez, assistant town manager for Bay Harbor Islands, it’s the overwhelming popularity of the park that made repairs necessary.
“Residents really love this park,” writes Jimenez in an e-mail exchange with the BT. “It has been heavily utilized since the day we opened it, and is by far the town’s most utilized park and dog park. This is the reason the sod was beaten up so badly.”
That, and a constant field drainage issue, led to the June 13 town council meeting to approve the installation of new synthetic turf at the site.
Managing the turf project was FieldTurf, part of Tarkett, an international flooring company based in France. Its website boasts 7000 synthetic sports fields installed worldwide. The subcontractor, Boynton Beach firm Sports Turf One Inc., did the fieldwork preparations of sod removal, creation of underground drainage and stone base, and the perimeter concrete curbing to frame the turf.
The project was to have been completed earlier in the summer, but the original rubber infill to be used to spread between the artificial grass fibers was changed to new organic material, thus the delay. A town press release explains: “The FieldTurf Classic HD Synthetic Turf System has a first-of-its-kind fully organic New CoolPlay infill,” made of walnut shells and sand. Infill gives synthetic turf the right balance of cushion, firmness, and flexibility. This turf remains 35 degrees cooler than artificial turf with rubber infill. Officer Winters Park is the first field to install this innovative organic infill. Turf installation cost the town $152,000.
The 13,000-square-foot field is the major component of the three-quarter-acre “human” side of the park, where sports prevail. “Soccer is quite popular -- the town’s Pee-Wee soccer program uses this field, but I’ve seen kids playing football there as well,” adds Jimenez. He notes that public works installed a new 15-foot high, $3700 ball stop net system to prevent balls from being kicked out onto 98th Street or behind the field. Heavy-grade four-foot chain link fencing along the park’s front edge replaces a metal picket fence that kids wore out as a backstop, costing $5800. Small leaf clusia, aka Clusia Guttifera, was planted streetside along the fence line. The old soccer goal nets have not been restrung.
The park’s reopening ceremonies finally took place October 13, delayed yet again by preparations for Hurricane Matthew. The BT visited the following day but had made a prior visit in late September to observe renovation work and spoke with Mike Best of Tri-City Electric, who does most of the electrical work for Bay Harbor Islands. He was working on the main irrigation controller, connecting service to a system moved deeper under the new turf. (Jimenez also points out that park patrons wanted an electrical outlet in the nearby pavilion to use during parties, which was installed for $3000.)
Additional repair costs were for fixing cracks in the water splash play area. Water service was turned off during renovations, creating small cracks in the aqua-flex flooring. The Naples firm Specialty Surfaces took care of that for $1200.
Bay Harbor Islands has managed to look after its little piece of parkland -- even during the recent economic downturn -- ever since purchasing the three residential lots for $3.7 million back in 2007.
Albert Ruder, past BHI councilman and former City of Miami Parks and Recreation director from 1988-2003, told the BT in 2015: “When we bought the 98th Street Park properties, we knew we didn’t have money to develop the park, but we still wanted to acquire it because we knew things in the future were going to get better. We tried to do the bare minimum to get citizens to use it -- fencing, planting grass, picnic tables, and a dog park. Our objective was to not keep the park closed, but do what we could afford at the time.”
When the local economy eventually improved, $650,000 of BHI’s reserve funds went to pay for construction. In March 2015, 98th Street Park was rededicated as Officer Scott A. Winters Park, named for the former BHI resident and fallen Pompano Beach Police Department K-9 officer, who was shot and killed with his own firearm while arresting a rape suspect in 1990.
Two-hour street parking is conveniently located on 98th Street and is available Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. In addition to the athletic field, the park has two colorful playgrounds featuring four slides and faux rock climbing, erected on recycled tire surface. Royal-blue canvas shade covers stretch over them, and brick paver and cement walkways lead around to the restroom building, located on the western perimeter.
Nearby picnic tables are protected from the elements by the metal pavilion structure, pitched at an eye-catching angle. This side of the park has two water fountains and plenty of benches and garbage receptacles. Landscaping is well kept and offers greenery accents in all the right places.
The only natural grass found in the park today is next door in the dog park section, which is separated from the sports side by six-foot chain-link fencing and clusia hedges of the same height, which also block dog park views from residents bordering the north and eastern perimeters.
This open space of just one-eighth of an acre appears much larger. To one-year-old mixed breed Bonsai, who’d spent months at the Miami-Dade Animal Shelter in Doral before being adopted by Ivan and Sol, his first visit to the tiny park must have felt like heaven. There’s plenty of room here for games of fetch or just scampering about off-leash. The only thing in need of repair is the wonky inside latch on the double-gated entrance.
Volume 15, Issue 1, March 2017
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