Miami Shores is setting the table for a downtown revival. Construction to replace the village’s outdated septic tank system with a low pressure sewer system could start as early as this summer.
The $4 million project upgrading the different-sized water mains is expected to be completed by February 2016.
“As a community, we’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Councilman Jim McCoy said during Tuesday night’s council meeting. “We’re all excited to see its impact in the downtown area.”
For years, the village’s downtown area — stretching across Northeast Second Avenue from 94th to 101st streets — has failed to expand its dining district. Although a few restaurants, including Cote Gourmet, Pizza Fiore and Subway, have opened and used the village’s current septic tank system, others can’t because of the area’s limited capacity to process wastewater.
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The final product will ensure the village will never face a restriction on water use again.
“Having sewers will end the county’s objections,” Vice Mayor Jesse Walters said. “The county won’t be a factor anymore.”
If all goes according to plan, Layne, the water management, drilling and construction company responsible for installing the pipes, will break ground as early as mid-June. A definitive more finalized start day will be announced once green lights are received from Miami-Dade’s Water and Sewer Authority, Department of Environmental Resources Management and the Florida Department of Health.
“They’ll start applying in April, but that can fluctuate one way or another on progress of final plan design,” said Village Manager Tom Benton. “The Council will not be reviewing the design before it is submitted to the county.”
To cover the cost of the sewer engineering, attorney and construction, the Council approved a special taxing district to be added to the property tax for owners along Second Avenue. The city is currently figuring out how much each property will have to pay for the improvements.
The tax increase, however, would not be in effect until October.
Construction will begin on the southwest side of the street and move north, according to Frank Alonso, Miami unit manager for the infrastructure consulting firm T.Y. Lin designing and overseeing the project.
Water mains will be installed on both sides of the street and 26 individual pump systems, which will be located within each business, will replace existing septic tanks. The new system will not replace storm water drainage, only sewage.
Only one other city, North Miami Beach, uses the low pressure water sewer system that Miami Shores will install. The less-common system will push waste through a series of force mains to the pump system on Northwest Third Avenue.
Owners and residents will be given two-week and 48-hour notices before construction is set to begin. The Council will also coordinate public meetings with Alonso and the T.Y. Lin team to educate residents about the work and when business owners will be able to hook up to the new sewer.
The desired change in construction could help to reduce the impact the construction has on the community, said Alonso. “[But] the permit authority is the ultimate authority on that.”
No construction will be required in front of the properties for the seven-block project.
Councilwoman Ivonne Ledesma expressed concern that the installation might bring unwanted smells, but the pump company representative quickly reassured her that the system’s constant fluid exchange would diminish any potentially odorous issues.
One resident was worried about ownership of the system after construction was finished. According to Benton, the new system will fall under county jurisdiction, joining the rest of Second Avenue and its utilities.
Once the sewer is complete, other issues will have to be addressed before new businesses — especially restaurants — fill space downtown. The village has a strict no liquor license policy and parking requirements will also have to be relaxed to bring the dead zone to life.
“This whole thing would have been a big waste of money if we don’t deal with the other two pieces,” said Walters.