South Miami-Dade property owners cautiously support widening Lucy Street

A plan to widen the east-west dividing street between Florida City and Homestead would require 10 feet of property from businesses and residents on either side of the thoroughfare, according to an engineer from Miami-Dade Public Works.

A small group of people from both communities gathered last Tuesday at Homestead’s Laura Saunders Elementary School to view the county’s plans for widening Lucy Street from 187th Street to US 1 – a distance of a little over a mile.

The street is now a two-lane road with sidewalks and some street lights attached to utility poles.

Under a design presented by county engineer Octavio Marin, the roadway would have a center turning lane, divided by a landscaped median, with sidewalks, bike lanes, traffic signal modifications, decorative street lamps and stormwater drainage, totaling 35 feet on either side.

On the north side of Lucy Street within Homestead city limits, 19 parcels could be affected. On the south side of the street, within Florida City’s municipal borders, 13 parcels are involved.

“When the plan is approved, the city will contact residents about the property acquisition,” Marin said. “We’re still sorting out who will pay.”

Several attendees questioned the four-foot wide bike lane on either side of the street.

“If it comes to a point where it impacts the businesses and residences too much, is there some way the bike lane can be eliminated?” one resident asked.

Marin said he would try to eliminate landscaping before getting rid of the bike lanes. Subtracting sidewalk landscaping from the design would reduce the need for more private land, he said.

But some residents were concerned about scrapping landscaping.

“The landscape is important because it would increase the value of the residential properties,” said Sheila Joseph, whose father, Willie Bain, owns a funeral home Lucy Street and Northwest Third Avenue.

While the street widening would inconvenience businesses during construction, the plan “looked good,” Joseph said.

“Sidewalks always improve a neighborhood,” she said.

Homeowner Evelyn Ruff said she appreciated that they’re trying to improve appearances on Lucy Street. She was concerned, however, about how much, if any, of her property would be acquired.

George Howard of Blue Heaven Villas, LLC, is one of two bidders hoping to purchase and develop 20 Florida City Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) parcels on and near Lucy Street that could result in as many as 100 new multifamily apartments.

He was eager for the plan to go forward because the proposed street improvements would enhance his project, Howard said.

Most attending the meeting wanted the landscape border along the sidewalks to be eliminated if it meant taking more than three feet of property away from business or residential areas.

The project will not affect Laura Saunders Elementary School’s frontage on Lucy Street and will improve the crossing signal.

Marin also promised to address traffic congestion at Southwest Sixth Avenue, North Krome Avenue and Lucy Street.

At least one more meeting will be scheduled for community members prior to construction.

The master plan is scheduled to be completed by the end of the month and the final design is scheduled to be done by the spring of 2014.