On October 19, 2012, during the construction of the Sunset Harbor Pump Station Retrofit project, an odor and sheen commonly associated with petroleum contamination was identified during excavation work in the southeast corner of Maurice Gibb Park. As a result, Miami Dade County required the City to fully delineate the soil and groundwater contamination on the park property, and to remediate areas with elevated contaminant levels. The City retained Atkins to perform the site assessment and develop a remediation plan.
On August 10, 2015, the Miami Dade County Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources (RER), approved, with comments the Site Assessment Report sampling plan.
A renovation of the park is necessary since the soil remediation is required over most of the surface of the park. The renovation would include the replacement of the playground equipment, new plant material, earthwork, new irrigation, new signage and new park furnishings. The new master plan will locate the park elements listed above, and depict potential new uses that will increase recreational activities, while addressing the environmental condition.
On August 28, 2017, a contract was executed with Coastal Systems International, Inc. (Coastal), pursuant to the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) No. 2016-138-KB for Architectural and Engineering Design Services, for the development of a design for the renovation of the park.
On February 14, 2018, the City Commission approved the referral of the project to the Finance and Citywide Projects Committee (FCWPC) to discuss the following items, and determine if the project’s budget suits the scope of work.
1. Evaluate the condition of the existing restroom facilities and proposed improvements that could include renovation of the existing facilities, expansion, or construction of a new facility.
2. Determine the need to add a fire patrol station at the park to provide efficient public safety services in South Beach.
3. Add recreation greenspace to the park for the community enjoyments by eliminating the on-site surface parking lot.
4. Collaborate with Art in Public Places (AiPP) to conduct a search for an artist or firm that can design an iconic children’s playground that pays tribute to the life and art of Maurice Gibb.
On February 17, 2018, the FCWPC made the following recommendations:
1. Architect shall provide different alternatives for a master plan for the park, to include one option that does not require future funding from the 2018 General Obligation Bond.
2. Start the soil remediation process once a master plan is approved.
3. Use the currently available project funding of $3.2 million to start working on the project.
4. Work with the community to gain feedback on the mooring facilities, marine/fire patrol building, parking lot and playground.
5. Return to the FCWPC after meeting with the community and getting more details on the master plan.
On May 31, 2018, the Office of Capital Improvements Projects (CIP), held a public meeting with residents from communities adjacent to the park (Sunset Harbor, Sunset Islands, Lower North Bay Road, Belle Isle and West Avenue) to obtain their feedback. There were 38 residents in attendance. The design team presented two options for the master plan, depicting possible locations for the basic park elements, which include, playground, pavilions, dog park, walkways, park furnishings, and landscaping with open sodded areas. The community was asked to select one of the options for the layout of these basic elements which shall be installed in the park.
The design team provided three options for the theme of the playground equipment, described as Artistic, Musical, and Nautical.
The master plan also depicted the proposed, future amenities which include: detached restroom facilities, vita course exercise equipment, marine/fire patrol facility, mooring facilities. The community was asked to indicate priority of these future amenities, for inclusion in the park’s further development.
The community voted for Option 2 of the Master plans, and the Artistic theme from the playgrounds presented. The elements of the proposed Future amenities that received the most votes were the Living Shoreline with the Overlook and the Marine/Fire Patrol Facility. The Vita Course and mooring facilities were ranked as a low priority for the park.
The restrooms currently in use by park patrons, would have to be renovated to meet current building code requirements, which could include a possible expansion. The renovation and expansion could trigger significant upgrades to the existing marine patrol building, which could be costly. A more feasible option could be to include a detached restroom facility. Both of the master plan options included a location for a new detached restroom facility.
Prior to the community meeting, feedback received from the Sunset Harbor Neighborhood Association, and from nearby business owners, indicated their preference that the parking lot remain within the park, versus providing additional recreational greenspace. The master plan options, presented at the community meeting, included the existing parking lot.
At the June 8, 2018 FCWPC, the results of the May 31, 2018 community meeting were presented by staff. The proposed project included the soil remediation, and the resulting renovation of the park, to include the following basic park elements: a new playground with shade canopy, pavilion(s), a dog park, walkways, minor restroom renovations, landscaping with open sodded areas, and park furnishings. These basic elements can be completed within the current $3.2M available funding.
As funding becomes available, the future amenities listed above and the new restrooms facilities can be developed as separate projects.
The committee recommended that staff proceed with the development of the project to include submitting to the Design Review Board (DRB). The committee reminded staff that the park should include an iconic, custom designed playground.
On July 26, 2018, CIP held another community meeting to present Master Plan Option #2 (Attachment A) incorporating comments received during the previous meeting, and to obtain feedback on including a typical playground versus an iconic, custom designed playground in the park (See attachment B for samples presented).
The iconic, custom designed playground would be in line with the July 2016 recommendation from the Parks and Recreation Facilities Advisory Board, for a unique thematic playground, similar to Monstrum, to be installed in the park.
The members from the community in attendance voted to proceed with the iconic, custom playground.