West Kendall

West Kendall town meeting addresses improving lighting along some streets

District 11 Commissioner Juan Carlos Zapata wants to bring lighting to improve safety in the area between 147th and 157th Avenues and from 64th to 80th streets.

The commissioner held a town meeting at the Kendale Lakes Branch Library on Wednesday where he discussed the upcoming lighting project at Olympic Park, 8601 SW 152nd Ave., and where residents weighed in on another possible lighting project in the area.

A map with three color-coded options was handed out to all the residents. The options for lighting were 152nd Avenue from Southwest 88th Street to Southwest 64th Street, 80th Street from Southwest 157th Avenue to Southwest 147th Avenue, and Southwest 154th Avenue from Southwest 80th Street to Southwest 88th Street.

Residents attending the meeting expressed their concern about the park being too dark and of not being able to use the park after sunset because of “unwanted elements,” such as people smoking marijuana.

The Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department explained how the lighting of the park would be structured, reassuring residents that the park will be lit once the project ends.

“What we wanted to do was figure out, with our limited resources, what would be the biggest impact and the most cost-effective,” Zapata said.

Zapata added that 154th Avenue is the most problematic area for the police, who often deal with criminals hiding or breaking into cars in the excessively dark street.

“The police have had a lot of issues here over time, so one of the things we want to do is to figure out a good strategy where we’re not only going to light up the park but where would we like to have lights along the corridor,” Zapata said.

However, because the street is not a section line road, lighting this area would require approval of a special taxing district by all the homeowners, most of whom rent out their properties.

“I would have liked to light this, but I can’t use county money,” Zapata said. “I want to give these neighbors the opportunity, but they have to come together at an election and decide they want to tax themselves.”

Donald Tuck, chief of special taxing districts at Public Works and Waste Management, said the process would be lengthy, approximately two years to complete.

The residents agreed to suggest the best use of the funds would be to light Southwest 80th Street.