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County to install new lights at Westchester park

Miami-Dade County has announced that it will add night lights to a park in Westchester that neighbors say is used for the sale and consumption of illegal drugs and other suspicious activities.

The project to illuminate Westbrook Park, at 1325 SW 193rd Pl., is now on the engineering drafting stages and will start next July, said Laura Phillips, spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces.

The $270,600 cost of the project will be financed with funds from the county’s General Obligation Bond, Phillips said in an email to El Nuevo Herald.

Solar panels will be used to power the lights, a system that has been used in other county parks, Phillips added.

County Commissioner Javier Souto, who presented the many complaints to parks officials in November, praised the decision to illuminate the park.

“The decision being taken in Miami-Dade County to end the problems in that park is important,” Souto said. “We, as officials, must have zero tolerance for the consumption of drugs in public spaces.”

During a November meeting of the county’s Cultural Affairs and Recreation Committee, Souto asked officials to request the funds needed to install a security camera system and improve the illumination because of the constant complaints from neighborhood residents about drug use and suspicious activities in the park.

Deputy county police director Juan Perez told the same meeting that his department had increased the patrols in the area and worked with the parks and recreation officials to eradicate all criminal activity in the area.

Perez also said that police were called to the park only once recently, for a report of graffiti vandalism in the playground.

During the session, parks department director Jack Kardys reported that starting in June the county started to install security cameras in parks, starting with 43 of the 260 county-administered parks in Miami Dade.

Souto said Westbrook does not require security cameras for now. The 2.5-acre park has 1,200 feet of walkways and a children’s play area.

“The improvement in the illumination of this park is an immediate response to an urgent need in that area,” he said. “I have to thank El Nuevo Herald for making public the needs of our community in Westchester.”

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