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Written by Janet Goodman, BT Contributor   
December 2019

Scott Rakow Youth Center offers unique family entertainment

LParkPatrol_1iving in South Florida, it isn’t always easy to get into the holiday spirit, especially for Northern transplants. For them, cold air and snow are synonymous with the holiday season. Although I’m certain they don’t miss shoveling or driving in the white stuff, that kind of winter weather is a “Happy Holidays” maker, while Miami’s hot temperatures are mood killers.

Luckily, a visit to the Scott Rakow Youth Center in Miami Beach can get you dreaming of sugar plums in no time: lace up those figure skates and step onto the frozen water at its popular Barbara Medina Ice Skating Rink.

This nearly 13,000 square-foot indoor ice arena is open every day, offering public and freestyle (for experienced skaters) sessions, private lessons, youth hockey, and adult ice hockey. Check www.miamibeachparks.com for schedules. Skating coaches can be hired by the hour, and skate rentals are also available. Public sessions for residents are $3; non-resident children $7 and non-resident adults $11.

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The rink has locker rooms, a Zamboni nook, metal bleachers for viewing the ice action, and a party room that is set up with a long table and chairs. On a Sunday afternoon visit in late October, the BT crashed a birthday ice-skating bash for seven-year-old Jack. He and his mom, Daniella Milota, live in Coral Gables and received RSVPs from about 21 kids. They rented the entire rink for the party, for the non-resident fee of $628. Music was pumped in over the PA system, and the kids were having a blast.

The Youth Center also has a bowling alley, where Miami Beach residents can bowl for free on the six lanes. Sneakers are allowed, but you can rent bowling shoes and balls if needed. Kids must be at least 40 inches tall and accompanied by adults. Large groups must have one adult for every four kids. The lanes are available for private party rentals on weekends.

Parking is free at the center, and bike racks and Citibike rentals are found at the staircase by the front entrance. Walking up from the parking lot, the large yellow sculpture Untitled by artist Charles O. Perry and supported by Miami Beach Art in Public Places is hard to miss; after making it past the front desk and decorative hallway, visitors will have the chance to “meet” the center’s beloved namesake, Scott Rakow, who is honored on a photo wall of remembrance.

ParkPatrol_3Scott Rakow was a former Parks and Recreation employee and Youth Center teen coach who grew up in Miami Beach and later became one of its police officers. He served for four years on the force until he was shot and killed in 1988 while pursuing a fleeing suspect in an undercover drug sting. The suspect and an accomplice were convicted of various offenses, including first-degree murder, and were sentenced to life in prison. Officer Rakow was 29 years old.

The Miami Beach Youth Center first opened in 1976 and was promptly renamed after Officer Rakow’s death. In 2010, a major renovation project managed by KVC Construction was completed. More recently, $5.1 million of a general obligation bond (GOB) program has been earmarked for improvements at the Youth Center, of which only $69,300 has already been implemented. The project includes the installation of new security cameras, a fire alarm, an emergency generator, a new air-conditioning system, high-impact windows, paint, and a full roof replacement.

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Another free amenity for Miami Beach residents is the Youth Center’s indoor basketball court, which also hosts a soccer program on Fridays, gymnastics, and a Halloween haunted house in October. The fitness center located across the way temporarily closes then for additional Halloween preparations. GOB funding will go toward new flooring for the basketball gymnasium.

One of three public Miami Beach pools is found at Scott Rakow Youth Center (the others are located at Normandy Isle Park and Flamingo Park). This six-lane outdoor lap pool is heated in the winter and offers an aquatics program consisting of free swim, multi-level swim classes, infant and toddler water safety lessons, and water polo, and is the home of the Miami Beach Seahawks swim team. The surrounding pool deck has lounge chairs, four blue umbrella tables, and several picnic tables; restrooms, water fountains, and locker rooms are nearby. The pool area is scheduled for renovations as part of the GOB funding.

Next to the pool is a roofed courtyard equipped with cafeteria-style lunch tables and five vending machines for beverages, ice cream, and snacks. The covered space comes in handy during rainstorms and is used for summer camp activities.

ParkPatrol_5On the second-floor level of the Youth Center, a large game room is open seven days a week for visitors and the after-school program. Four pool tables, air hockey, ping-pong, two foosball tables, and two dart boards provide fun for all. Five Xbox and PlayStation entertainment centers are available only to kids signed up for the after-school program, as are the 13 computers found in the adjacent media room. Music lessons, arts and crafts, and various senior program activities take place in classrooms throughout the facility.

Outside the aquatics complex is a serene picnic area with three tables under leafy trees and a fenced-in children’s playground. Swings, slides, climbers, and several park benches are installed on soft safety flooring and under a canvas shade cover.

Miami Beach residents may remember playing tennis on rooftop courts at the Youth Center, but those days are gone for good. The roof foundation is unsafe for that activity today and is scheduled for a complete replacement, paid for through the GOB funding. But future plans for the closed Bayshore Municipal Golf Course, located behind the Youth Center, entails turning the nine-hole links into a 19.4-acre park, which will include a dog park, gardens, lakeside boardwalk loop, and tennis courts.

 

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Park_map


Scott Rakow Youth Center
2700 Sheridan Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33140
305-673-7767


Park Rating
palm-1 palm-1 palm-1 palm-05 palm-05


Hours: M-F 8:30 a.m.-8:15 p.m.;
weekends 9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Picnic Tables
: Yes
Ice skating: Yes 
Indoor basketball: Yes
Bowling lanes: Yes
Athletic fields: No
Night lighting: Yes
Swimming pool: Yes
Playground: Yes

 

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