Community members unite for historic moment in Opa-locka
In early November, the promise of new day finally arrived for Opa-locka residents near 15050 Duval Street. Community leaders, residents, and local media witnessed the removal of the first metal barricades that have literally and figuratively divided the Opa-locka community for nearly three decades.
“This historic, but distressed community is ready for a new reality and community residents are ready to move on, unite and look toward a better, brighter future,” said Willie Logan, Ph.D., president/CEO of OLCDC. “The Opa-locka community has made great strides in improving its image and the removal of the barricades signifies that our neighborhood is making progress.”
Public art created by artistic visionaries such as Jennifer Bonner and Christian Stayner (Los Angeles, Calif.); Rosario Marquardt and Roberto Behar (Miami, Fla.), and Gale Fulton Ross (Sarasota, Fla.) will replace the barricades blockading the neighborhood starting with 15050 Duval Street on Nov.8th.
Founded in 1926 with imaginative design, urban planning and architecture, Opa-locka was an idyllic self-sustaining suburban development. Throughout the years, the city, and in particular the Magnolia North neighborhood, have been marked by struggle and plagued by crime.
A dark cloud formed over many urban areas across the country in the 1980s, and it shrouded Opa-locka in peril. In an effort to control drug traffic, metal barricades were installed in 1987. To date, they continue to divide the community.
The removal of the barricades comes as a major part of the “Community Gateways” program, a revitalization plan sponsored by the OLCDC in collaboration with Miami- Dade County Art in Public Places, which is funded in part by grant and stimulus funds via the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
“The community environment in Opalocka is shifting towards the positive,” said Opa locka Mayor Myra Taylor. “The barricade removal is a testimony of our residents, community leaders and city officials working together to transform Opa locka and bring a fresh new outlook in the Magnolia North community.”
With these funds, the OLCDC will not only remove the barricades situated in Magnolia North (formerly known as the “Triangle”), but realize its goal of creating a visual, physical and economically sustainable design that involves and empowers the community, while transforming Opalocka into a true family-friendly neighborhood.