News Column

Grants bring skating, gardening and groovin' to Miami's public spaces

June 17, 2014

By Andres Viglucci, The Miami Herald



June 18--Get ready to roller skate 'round the big fountain at Bayfront Park, borrow a library book on a Metrorail platform, shop for produce and crafts at a Wynwood community market, or enjoy live music on the steps of downtown Miami's new architecture center.

Those simple, bright ideas were among the 18 winning submissions that will share $130,000 in grants in the second annual Our Miami Public Space Challenge, which seeks to promote creative use and enjoyment of the city's myriad, but sometimes overlooked, urban and suburban corners.

The winners range across Miami-Dade County, from the underside of the downtown Interstate 95 overpass, which would become home to a skate park, to a new public fitness zone on the grounds of West Kendall Baptist Hospital, to a rundown neighborhood basketball court in Liberty City that will be renovated.

On Miami Beach, 76th Street, the Sabrina Cohen Foundation will use an Our Miami grant towards what its entry describes as the city's first fully handicapped-accessible beach. A wheelchair mat would lead to a patio landing with assistive beach chairs and adaptive kayaks and flotation devices.

The grants, which range from $2,000 to $12,000, provide all or most of a project funding in some cases, or can fill a funding gap or serve as seed money. The Miami Foundation runs the contest in collaboration with the Health Foundation of South Florida.

The competition, designed to foster community engagement and healthful activity, drew 410 online entries from regular folks and civic groups -- significantly outpacing last year's 250 submissions. The Miami Herald is a media partner in the competition.

The idea: to bring people together by creating vibrant neighborhood places in a city that often lacks them.

During the past year, the competition's inaugural edition brought a temporary greenmarket to the middle of Biscayne Boulevard downtown, a chalkboard hung on a Wynwood chainlink fence that became a popular canvas for spontaneous expression, and a new community garden in Liberty City, among other projects.

Judging from this year's winners, selected by an expert panel, pop-ups are all the rage, and so are gardens, markets and going outside to work up a sweat.

Metrorail was a big idea magnet. Daniel Caballero's proposal will bring library stations to Metrorail platforms. Friends of the Greenlink, a group looking to transform the M-Path that runs below the Metrorail tracks from Dadeland to downtown Miami into a lush linear park, will curate changing light installations by local artists to raise the line's public profile.

Downtown's Bayfront Park will also get some love. On a Monday evening every other month, the park's Pepper Fountain will become a temporary, old-school roller-skating rink, an idea submitted by Macias Advertising and Walk Landscape and Urban Design. And Yida Michelle Hernandez will install a hidden music system in the park to create a "sound garden.''

Other winning entries include:

--A community market for local produce and crafts at the Bakehouse Art Complex in Wynwood.

--Bike repair stations along cycling paths equipped with air pumps and tools secured by steel cables, proposed by Malone Matson.

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(c)2014 The Miami Herald

Visit The Miami Herald at www.miamiherald.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: Miami Herald (FL)


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