Good news arrived a few weeks ago in a double dose for Miami Springs city officials and anyone who uses Prince Field.
After a lot of hard work by a lot of hard-working people, the City of Miami Springs hit the jackpot. Not only will Prince Field be getting brand new, energy-efficient lights next month, but it won’t cost the city or the taxpayers a dime.
That’s because the City of Miami Springs was named recipient of a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in the amount of $130,000 for energy-efficient “green” lighting for Prince Field.
Located on Westward Drive and Apache Drive south of the community center complex, Prince Field is the oldest, most heavily utilized public recreation facility in Miami Springs and has served as the host for thousands of athletic events over the last half-century.
Just a few weeks ago, the minors Little League all-star team hosted Kendall on the South field in the District 8 championship game.
“We are grateful to the State Office of Energy for this welcome assistance,” said Miami Springs mayor Zavier Garcia. “New lighting has been on our want list for several years, but allocations for this purpose have always been foregone due to other critical priorities.”
Prince Field encompasses two baseball fields with bleachers and dugouts, a football field, a tot lot playground, restrooms, a picnic area, the Senior Center on Payne Drive, and 12 lighting poles for illuminating nighttime activities and providing security.
At the forefront and perhaps the person who gets the most credit for “finding the money” was Carol Foster.
Foster is the grants/public information specialist for the city and when she says this was a last-minute thing, she wasn’t kidding.
“I had just returned from Germany on vacation back in mid-June when I started scouring the websites for federal and state funding opportunities the night before I came into the office,” Foster said. “When I found this one, I realized that the deadline was at the end of the next day.”
So Foster, despite a six-time-zone jet lag, stayed up late and prepared the paper work for the next day. She tracked Garcia down, got him to sign the paper work and off it went to Tallahassee with all of about 15 minutes to spare.
“I think it was literally just a few minutes before the deadline,” Foster said. “And there are no extensions when it comes to these things. You either get the request in on time or you move on to something else.”
The problems with the lights at Prince began to really worsen eight years ago.
The hurricane season of 2005, which brought us dual impact storms of Katrina and Wilma just a month or so apart, resulted in severe damage to the lights.
The existing fixtures, originally installed in 1991 on poles dating back to the 1970s, were well along in their useful life at that time and were already obsolete technology.
During repairs it was discovered that the fixtures had been bent by wind damage and some had broken off and could not be replaced, thus were not able to be aimed at the areas they need to illuminate for general safety and visibility.