Bay Harbor Islands council members have settled on a conceptual design for a community center in the ground floor of a parking garage on 95th Street.
After eight months of debate, the council approved a conceptual architectural design at a meeting on Monday. Council members had debated the design, which was proposed in October 2013, for various reasons, but mainly because it would be built on about 8,000 square feet inside the 95th Street parking garage, which also houses a fire station. Council member Joshua Fuller expressed concern about the amount of natural light the center would receive.
“I just don’t want to approve this and we’ll have to spend more money and go back to the architects for design changes,” Fuller said.
Town Manager Ronald Wasson said design options are limited, and he thinks the lighting will work. Many residents spoke at the meeting expressing that they are in favor of the design.
“I’m really happy with this new project, especially for the older kids; it’s wonderful that we will have a new park soon, but the kids that are 8 years old and up do not have a place to go,” said resident Andrea Moffatt.
Other residents were pleased with the prospect of a community center regardless of the design.
“I think everyone will benefit from this and this is a great opportunity for our town,” said Andrea Cabo.
But one resident spoke against the design. Ken Eskin said he didn’t see why the council was such in a rush to vote on it.
“I think some residents would prefer that you keep the community center private instead of public,” Eskin said. “I also don’t see the necessity to have a library as part of the design when so many people go online today and the space for the center is the size of three store fronts.”
But the council approved the design unanimously, drawing applause.
The next step for the council is to have a workshop where residents will have the opportunity to give their feedback and input on the center.