River Cities

Activist: Despite upgrades, disabled people still can’t access Miami Springs gazebo

The city of Miami Springs is spending $194,978.32 to remove barriers along Curtiss Parkway that have made the city’s downtown circle inaccessible to disabled people.

The project, according to City Manager Ron Gorland, addresses “pedestrian safety, accessibility and roadway repairs” at the circle.

But at least one resident questions the redesign.

“What safety?” said Helen Gannon, a former city councilwoman who has been an outspoken advocate at council meetings for improvements under the Americans with Disabilities Act. “The city should have installed a crosswalk leading to the circle so people in wheelchairs can safely get there.”

Gannon also said there isn’t adequate street parking with ramps in the business district as required under the ADA. Not having ramps puts people in wheelchairs into harm’s way while trying to access the circle, she said.

“I have always wanted to go inside the gazebo,” said Gannon’s daughter, Debra Ferrero, 55, of Miami Springs, who is unable to access the gazebo in her wheelchair.

The gazebo is one of the city’s most popular destinations and is used frequently for weddings, parties and special events.

When asked Saturday whether plans for a wheelchair ramp to be installed at the gazebo were in the works, Gorland texted the Herald: “Not immediately.”

A portion of Northwest 57th Avenue, which hugs the circle, is maintained by Miami-Dade County. An email Monday morning to County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa’s office asking why the ADA upgrades did not include a crosswalk, or wheelchair ramp to the gazebo, was not immediately returned.

The project’s cost, according to the city, is being funded by the Citizens Independent Transportation Tax, and includes:

▪ Curbing: $33,520.

▪ Asphalt: $127,463.32.

▪ Lane striping: $20,000.

▪ Sidewalk replacements: $13,995.

“This is also yet another example of mayor and council returning tax revenues to our business districts,” Gorland wrote in an email to the Miami Herald last week.

The $194,978.32 face-lift on the circle, Gorland wrote, will be completed “by the end of next week.”

Last November, the city announced a separate $885,900 upgrade, thanks to a Florida Department of Transportation grant, that would “retrofit city sidewalks with federally mandated ADA-compliant ramp installations and repairs” in the three-square-mile city of Miami Springs. That project is expected to start in or about July 2016, according to the city.