The Biscayne Times

Jun 20th
A Green Tour of North Miami PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark Sell, BT Contributor   
December 2016

Get out and smell the sea air

VPix_MarkSell_12-16eteran’s Day dawned crisp and partly cloudy, three days after the electorate went for change, both political and -- half-wittingly -- climatological. It was time to go outside and take in that magnificent air.

By late morning, the clients were wrapping up, and the time came to commemorate the moment the guns fell silent in France on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, ending the War to End All Wars, and to thank the veterans we have known and loved.

We could have written about politics, but that would have meant neglecting the mountain bike that was begging for a ride. So it was time for a four-hour leisurely loop through the parks of Arch Creek (hiking, reflecting), the Enchanted Forest (hiking, reflecting, and ponies), Sans Souci (tennis), William Lehman (fishing), and Oleta (biking, hiking, paddling, swimming), ending in an ocean plunge (surf temperature: 79).

We’ll get to that, but first North Miami updates:

Ocean Cadillac is out there pushing hard to put in a $50 million, seven-story dealership at the site of the old White House Inn Motel, on the bay at 2305 NE 123rd St. The item is scheduled to come before the planning commission at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, December 6, and will require city council approval. Keystone Point residents have thus far given it a reception we can charitably describe as mixed.

The Community Redevelopment Agency is suddenly looking wobbly. But all may not be lost. The county commission recently voted to give a reprieve for the North Miami CRA, which was created to use tax revenues from new developments (like the $4 billion SoLēMia, starting in earnest around 2019) to relieve slum and blight elsewhere. The CRA was scheduled to “sunset” (i.e., die) September 30, but the county commission extended its life until 2044 -- sort of.

County commission chair Jean Monestime recently came back and asked the city to narrow the CRA’s boundaries, with an impossible-to-fulfill December 20 deadline. Word is that as of November 18, that deadline is getting extended six months. At the November 17 “State of the City” address, Mayor Smith Joseph called this a “hiccup,” but we expect reasonably difficult negotiations ahead.

The road show is on for the city bond issue. City manager Larry Spring Jr. and assistant city manager Arthur “Duke” Sorey Jr. took their bond issue plans to community meetings November 15 and 17. The city has a wish list and is trying to winnow it down to perhaps $100 million or so over 20 years to sell to the voters. Near the top of the list: a mixed-use transit center for light rail around 123rd Street and NE 14th Avenue, widespread paving streetscape and infrastructure improvements around the city, an expansion of the North Miami Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), and the Chinatown project. While there is no projected date for a referendum, we’d be surprised if it could get on the ballot for the city council election scheduled for May 9, or even the runoff election June 6. A special election in the fall would seem more probable, but there is no way to tell yet.

The police department is shaping up with its head down. Officers are doing their jobs as the federal Department of Justice investigates the case of Charles Kinsey, the behavioral therapist who was shot in the leg July 18 by SWAT team member Jonathan Aledda (who is still on paid leave) as Kinsey tried to coax off the street an autistic patient who was holding a toy truck. Some apparently thought the truck was a gun. Full resolution will take a while, as the Justice Department and Florida Department of Law Enforcement reach their conclusions, while the police department pushes for best practices.

Herewith, the bike tour:

Enchanted Forest and Arch Creek Park: On the north side of NE 135th Street and U.S. 1, check out the city’s Enchanted Forest, west of the tracks, and the county’s Arch Creek Park, east of the tracks. Both are fine spots for anyone seeking solace, and the Enchanted Forest pony rides were a treat for my kids and should be for yours. Admission is free, and well worth the peace.

Southward to Penny Sugarman Tennis Center at Sans Souci: The courts are renovated, with gleaming, royal-blue playing surfaces and new nets. It offers plenty of programs, and even with price hikes of about ten percent in January, it’s still one of the better tennis deals in town. Private lessons are $30 for a half hour, $55 for an hour; regular group lessons are still $18 for residents and $20 for non-residents. It also has generous hours, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and until 7:00 p.m. Saturday.

North Bayshore William Lehman Park: If you fish from piers and haven’t been here (12220 N. Bayshore Dr.), you’re missing out. The pier was completed earlier this year, and the anglers were out in reasonable number even at midday, catching jack. There’s plenty of pier to accommodate lots of people, and the view is serene and lovely. And it’s free.

Oleta River State Park: This is a justifiable favorite of so many, and the BT has written about it often. The concessionaire, BG Florida Parks, hasn’t really started renovations on the old Blue Marlin Fish House or the main Blue Moon concession near the parking lots, which include, believe it or not, a full-service bar on an added third story of the building. Still, the concessionaire has expanded offerings to include a full-moon kayak tour (6:00 to 8:30 p.m., December 11, $20-$100), and the Friday 4:00 p.m. sunset paddle ($25-$30).

Entrance to the park is $6 for a vehicle, $2 for a pedestrian or cyclist. I take the $60 annual pass, good for any state park, and jounce along the bike trails with helmet. But watch those tides. On Veterans Day weekend, parts of the main bike trailhead turned into a lake.

The reason: the King Tide with the super moon (it was spectacular) had lapped over the trailhead, but as the days went on, the tide subsided a bit and the trail was once again passable, if a bit splashy.

But there was an easy workaround. Even if the North Pole is running 36 degrees above average, and even if an octopus was swimming in a Miami Beach parking garage, there was the gravel service road providing a back way into the trails.

We humans are a relatively adaptable species, like our fellow creatures, the frogs. When we vote for change, we’re also casting a ballot for adaptability.


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