The seniors of Miami Gardens will have a new place to exercise, relax and spend their time by the end of 2018.
The City Council, at its July 12 meeting, approved contract negotiations with West Construction to build a new senior center at the intersection of Northwest 183rd Street and 12th Avenue. The center will include a walking trail, heated pool, community garden and other amenities.
City Manager Cameron Benson said construction will take from a year to 15 months. The proposed budget for the project is about $7.4 million.
The center is one of the main projects being funded through the city’s $60 million general obligation bond, which was approved by voters in 2014. The progress of the bond program has been slower than some city officials hoped and while contracts for improvements at several parks have been approved, only one park project is set to be completed by year’s end.
The center is one of the main projects being funded through the city’s $60 million general obligation bond.
City leaders hope the new center will provide relief for the Betty T. Ferguson Center, which is often overbooked as it currently houses several senior fitness activities, other recreation programs and various city meetings and events.
“We need a place so we don’t have to displace them. We need one spot that we can program our senior activities,” Mayor Oliver Gilbert said at a previous meeting.
Miami Gardens has about 13,600 residents older than 65 according to 2015 U.S. Census estimates. Of that population, 39 percent are disabled.
The proposal for the site also includes the potential development of senior housing but that was not included in the contract approved by the City Council and has not been formally designed.
In previous discussions some residents expressed concern about the plan to build housing in addition to the center on the site.
“I don’t think it’s fair that you take any of that property for any other reason other than what it was initially purchased for, a senior citizens center,” Mary Williams said at a previous meeting.
Gilbert said that ultimately the City Council would have to approve any housing plans and would involve residents and seniors in the discussion.
“We own the property and we get to say who develops it, how they develop it. We get to place restrictions,” Gilbert said.
The city also plans to get resident feedback on the senior activity center and West Construction’s renderings.
“The things that you saw this evening were not final drawings, they were conceptual drawings,” Benson said at the July 12 meeting. “Those drawings will be used as you gain public input.”