Major renovations ahead for Westland Gardens Park in Hialeah Gardens

07/14/2014 4:57 PM

07/14/2014 4:58 PM

Hialeah Gardens Mayor Yioset de la Cruz last week announced the renovation of the swimming pools and aquatic games at Westland Gardens Park.

De la Cruz said the project has a $1.8 million budget, allocated by the state government, and will begin in August on the eastern side of the popular park at 13501 NW 107th Ave.

“I am very happy to make this new project a reality,” said De la Cruz. “It’s a great recreational attraction for our community.”

In 2010, De la Cruz pushed for the construction of a modern, Olympic-size pool next to an old one at the park. He said the old pool would be refurbished and equipped with new attractions.

The mayor said the project also includes the installation of classrooms with Internet access “to combine education and recreation” for the children who participate in city programs at the park. Those classes, De la Cruz said, would be free for Hialeah Gardens residents and provided by the nonprofit organization Florida Venture.

When the Westland Gardens Park first opened, it was 10 acres, and grew to 40 acres through the gradual acquisition of land. The recreational complex has four baseball fields, two football fields, two tennis courts, a basketball court and a community center.

The mayor said other public attractions would be opened, including a Museum of the 2506 Brigade, commemorating Bay of Pigs invasion fighters, and the Botanic Garden of Hialeah Gardens.

In March, De la Cruz accompanied by City Council members and former Cuban fighters broke ground to begin construction of the museum.

On July 10, De la Cruz said the museum is about 65 percent complete. The project had a $2 million budget, also from the state.

The 5,000-square-foot museum will have several exhibition areas, a library and a plaza where tanks, airplanes and weapons used in the failed April 17, 1961, invasion will be displayed.

A total of 1,113 fighters were captured at the Bay of Pigs by Fidel Castro’s forces, and were kept as prisoners for 20 months. When they were released, they were greeted as heroes in Miami.

The city’s Botanic Garden will feature 25,000 plants of diverse species, a butterfly sanctuary and a lake with native fish, among other attractions.

De la Cruz thanked state Sen. René García and Reps. Eddy González, Manny Díaz Jr., José Oliva and Erik Fresen for supporting the allocation of funds to the park project, as well as Gov. Rick Scott for approving them.

“The work of our legislators has been crucial to the launch all these works,” De la Cruz said.

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