Construction is underway for a new $5.4 million aquatic complex at Homestead’s South Dade Park, located at 28151 SW 164th Ave.
The Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces project will transform the 52-year-old pool area into a modern, multipurpose competitive and recreational swimming pool with zero-depth entry, heating, lights, eight 25-yard lap lanes and a giant water slide. Pool facilities surrounding the complex will also be remodeled. Construction is scheduled to be completed by October 2017.
“This will be a state-of-the-art facility,” Parks Aquatic Safety Coordinator James O’Connor said at a groundbreaking on Wednesday. “It’s going to encompass many different programs all year round and allow all groups to use it. It will be ideal for teaching swimming and will also allow high school swim teams and our own parks teams to practice here and have competitions. At the same time, it’s going to be a fun and totally ADA-accessible facility, which will really bring the community here.”
Miami-Dade Parks Deputy Director Maria Nardi hosted the public ceremony to launch the project, which is being funded by the “Building Better Communities” general obligation bond program, impact fees and the Quality Neighborhood Improvement Program.
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District 8 Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, South Dade Park Aquatic Specialist Dewayne Deal, South Dade Park Manager Lasonja Davis-Miller and Parks Communication Director Victoria Galan also spoke and participated in the ceremony.
Designs for the aquatic complex are in accordance with the Miami-Dade Parks and Open Spaces Master Plan, which emphasizes civic connectivity, health and environmental conservation through facilities, programs and services that create and link together parks, public spaces, natural and cultural places, streets, greenways, trails and water trails.
Miami-Dade’s Parks Design and Build Team is working on the project with Forbes Architects, Witkin Hults Design Group, TLC Engineers, Councilman-Hunsaker, EAC Consulting and construction contractor Lunacon Construction Group.
“The Parks and Open Spaces Master Plan lays out a vision to make Miami-Dade County a more vibrant and healthy community,” Nardi said. “People come together in parks. A community without a park is just not complete. This is one of several aquatic facilities that we are going to be building and already have in the department. Our goal is to work with as many different organizations as possible to make sure we teach kids how to swim.”
Last summer, Levine Cava and the nonprofit Parks Foundation helped raise $3,800 to support Learn-to-Swim Scholarships within District 8. The grant provided 80 children between ages 2 and 14 with swimming and water safety lessons at South Dade Park, Naranja Pool and Goulds Pool. In 2015, 75 children benefited from the program.
“Swimming is a life skill,” Levine Cava said. “It’s not just for fun, exercise and recreation; it’s actually for survival.”
Between the years 2012 and 2014, 20 Miami‐Dade County children age 17 and under died as a result of drowning, according to the county health department. An equal number drowned between 2011 and 2013.
South Dade Park, which sits on 8.61 acres of land, is just one of 270 parks that make Miami-Dade Parks the third-largest county park system in the nation. In addition to the aquatic complex, the park features a playground, Fitness Zone, skate park, walkway and tennis and basketball courts. Miami-Dade Parks Fit2Play after-school, out-of-school and seasonal camps for kids are offered at the park. Programs for older adults and event facility rentals are also available.
“This park is one of the jewels in our crown,” Levine Cava said. “It’s already very well-utilized, integrated into the neighborhood and busy all of the time with people of all ages. Once we have this aquatic complex upgraded, it’s going to be even more of a draw. It will be transformational for this community and will make the programming we have for kids and seniors, which is already strong, even stronger.”