Picking up shovels and scooping up sand, City of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and other elected officials commenced the groundbreaking ceremony last Friday, for the remodeling of a community center located at West End Park behind Fairlawn Elementary School in Flagami.
The restoration project, which has a total construction cost of about $2.5 million, will sport separate adult and youth multipurpose areas, a computer lab, an activity room, a laundry room, arts classroom, a storage and a fitness room across the 10,800 square foot facility.
To secure funds for the restructuring of the building, County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa allocated $1.5 million from the general obligation bonds. The other $1 million was given to the project directly from the City of Miami.
“When we had the GOB question on the ballot for people to approve, I made a survey of the whole district. We realized what the needs were and so we listed them as part of the fund,” said Sosa. “The problem was that this building was in such a bad shape that they almost closed it.”
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The only challenge facing the structure now, is the proposed 330-day time frame of development.
“We are going to keep checking everyday to make sure there is no delay,” said Sosa. “At the end they are going to have a place for youngsters, children, and seniors to be able to enjoy and come together.”
For Regalado, the remodeling of the recreation center will be a game changer for the Flagami community.
“What we were lacking was space for after-school kids and seniors to find computers and activities,” said Regalado, who hopes older residents will use the space as a way to increase the level of activism and debate in the district.
“When everything is set and done, we are going to have a state of the art community center where residents will learn to organize and debate the issues of the city in a place to meet.”
Already the park has a multitude of eager visitors looking to use the center.
“My granddaughter enjoys going to the park and I’m sure I’ll bring her here once it’s done because her parents live nearby,” said Sergio Rodriguez, who frequently visits his 4-year-old granddaughter.
For Oilda Roche, who lives nearby, the idea that she will share the park with her grandchildren makes her happy.
“It’s going to help the neighborhood because there will be more activities,” said Roche, who is looking forward to using the fitness center.
Once construction is complete, West End Park will also serve as a center for education.
“I’m very proud to say that this is going to be the last of the parks in my district that is going to receive a brand new community center,” said District 4 Commissioner Francis Suarez, who is working to bridge the digital divide.
“Our centers offer computer classes to our elderly and to children who may not have access to the Internet.”