Have you noticed the sports fields in the city refurbished with artificial turf? It seems as if the new fields just appeared there, but of course that is not the case. Many hours were spent analyzing the needs of the parks, measuring for the design specifications, going over the bids, and then finally keeping on top of the construction. And the person that coordinated that job from start to finish is City Engineer Helen Gray.
Raised in the Midwest and graduating from Hinsdale Central High School in suburban Chicago, Helen spread her wings attending Colorado State University and earning a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. After college she began her career in the private sector in the aerospace industry specializing in structural design in southern California, and working in both California and Colorado in land development design (grading, drainage, underground utilities, roadways, etc).
Helen also gained public sector experience in both Colorado and Florida working as a civil engineer and also as city government administrator. She moved to Florida to be closer to family and joined the City of Sunny Isles Beach in April 2012. Helen is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Florida. She is behind the scenes, monitoring many items that keep the City functioning. Words such as infrastructure, capital projects, plan review, contracts and permitting are a familiar part of her vocabulary. She is a REAL asset to the City with experience in both the public and private sector. And because of that experience, she is graced with the ability to juggle multiple projects with ease. Besides the artificial turf projects, she is involved with the Intracoastal Park development, city streetscape, emergency / pedestrian bridge, to name a few.
Interestingly, she is also a US Coast Guard Licensed Captain and a Certified Open Water Diver. And that brings to light another way in which Helen is an asset to our City; she is a member of the South Florida Beach Divers. The group promotes scuba diving, protects the environment, teaches diving and explores local sites. They voluntarily performed maintenance on the Sunny Isles Beach Newport Fishing Pier in October last year.
That cleanup day netted many “lost objects” either dropped from the pier or brought in by the tide. The diving group untangled miles of fishing line and netting caught in the pilings and even hit the jackpot finding fishing poles and other equipment! This volunteer effort was greatly appreciated by the City. The club is expected to perform this service for the City on a quarterly basis. This effort will help keep the area safe for all that use the beach, the pier and the waters surrounding it. These special quarterly projects provide Helen with an opportunity to meld her passion with her profession.
This dedication to the job helps to provide the residents with the quality of life they have come to expect. So, if you happen to see Helen out and about, say hello, and be assured she is working to keep the City in world class shape.