Thursday , 20 November 2014
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Private partnerships with WK parks to be explored

Development, financing and operation through private partnerships will be explored by Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department for two West Kendall park projects.

Headed as “Request for Information,” two advertisements published in the Miami Herald listed separate February dates for “Industry Day” meetings to explore private resources to develop and operate the proposed West Kendall District Park off SW 157th Avenue north of 120th Street, and for Camp Matecumbe on SW 120th Street, just west of 137th Avenue.

Both the 160-acre District Park and the former “Pedro Pan” destination site for Cuban youth were listed by District 11 Commissioner Juan Zapata in January as non-funded infrastructure improvements needed in West Kendall.

Both lacked priority for funding in the current five-year phase of the BBC (Building Better Communities) bond program, originally intended to finance project planning, infrastructure and facilities with extra tax revenues.

“What we’re trying to do in both meetings is to get an idea of what private companies might suggest that could further the development of these park areas,” said James (Andy) McCall, project planner for the District Park.

The meetings are planned to gather ideas and information from “industry leaders” to further park development and not designed to receive formal requests for proposals (RFPs), he emphasized.

McCall will act as host for a session exploring private programming and operations for the West Kendall District Park. The meeting is on Thursday, Feb. 6, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., at the Parks Department offices, 275 NW Second St. A similar exploratory meeting for Camp Matecumbe guided by park planner Mark Heinicke is scheduled on Thursday, Feb. 13, also 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., in the same location.

That session will “seek information and ideas from industry leaders that are willing to partner with the county” to help deliver camping facilities, programs and operations of the historic grounds.

A Parks-sponsored meeting on Aug. 7, 2013 gave impetus to surveying private development interests when residents offered suggestions to improve West Kendall parks, McCall said. The meeting was conducted by George Navarette, Parks Department deputy director.

Both the District Park and Camp Matecumbe were singled out later as “Unfunded Needs” among nine parks totaling over $52 million in a list compiled by Commissioner Zapata’s staff.

The second phase development for the District Park currently is in need of $11.8 million, part of an estimated $22 million originally estimated to open the park with soccer, baseball, tennis facilities and a landscaped lake area with picnic grounds.

Adjoining a 70-acre Pineland Preserve, Camp Matecumbe requires $1.9 million to develop outdoor camping grounds for public use. The 17-acre site was originally the home of the Archdiocese of Miami’s “Boystown” that later sheltered Cuban youth during the early 1960s.

Additional information on the District Park meeting is available from McCall by email at jamccal@miamidade.gov, and on Camp Matecumbe from Heinicke at mheinic@miamidade.gov.

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