Although the restoration and improvement of Franjo Park has taken longer to move forward with than originally planned, it still remains an important project that our Town Council and Staff are working toward completing. Before going into details on what the project delays are, it’s important to note that, although the park has been closed for two years and two months, our Parks & Recreation staff have been able to accommodate the Perrine Baseball and Softball Association, who regularly held their games at Franjo Park, at the other Town parks. Not one single baseball game had to be cancelled due to Franjo Park’s closure.
Since our last Franjo Park update earlier this year, we have installed our new LED Sports Lighting System, which was completed under budget and ahead of schedule. The new lighting system will be going through a testing phase which will have the field lights turn on from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every weekday for the next two weeks.
One of the many factors that delayed this project was that we wanted to ensure we receive the maximum amount of funds from our insurance carrier and FEMA for the damages sustained from Hurricane Irma. In order to do so, our Town Staff coordinated several site inspection meetings with both our insurance carrier and FEMA representatives. As a result, we were able to secure $394,691 in funding to restore the park. Since we are receiving federal funds from FEMA, we must comply with federal contract requirements, which are not part of the Town’s standard bidding process.
Another factor that has delayed this project is the decision to restore the original buildings, rather than demolishing them. We heard from our residents on the great memories and affection they have for the Park and the existing buildings, so it was important to us that we honor and preserve the buildings’ legacy.
In the last few months, our consultant has completed the design of our new and improved Franjo Park, which will see a complete redesign of the building’s interior. The main building will be repurposed as a green-certified community center with upgraded ADA accessible restrooms and new, state-of-the art equipment (including new grease trap system) and safety features in the concession stand. As this building was constructed in 1969, there are naturally many building code standards and ADA standards that have changed since then that had to be re-engineered during the design phase—a unique challenge in the restoration of an older building.
Another delay was the discovery of asbestos in the building, which added more time to the project since we had to perform an asbestos removal and remediation process.
Additionally, we tested the park for any type of arsenic and the results came back positive, which also had to be addressed, adding yet more time to the already bogged down restoration and improvement project.
This restoration and improvements project requires several permits from Miami-Dade County including: the Fire Department, the Department of Environmental Resources Management and the Water and Sewer Department.
We are now in the final stages of the permitting process (with the Fire Department) and are optimistic that the final approval will be received by late next week.
Once we receive the permit, our Town Council has given the Town Manager authority to expedite the bidding process, allowing the issuance of a Request For Proposal (RFP) immediately. We estimate it will take 10 months from the moment we select a qualified contractor to the moment the park is completed.
The Town Council has budgeted over $1.4 million for this project, which will see the restoration of the park’s baseball fields and three buildings. Upgrades and improvements to the park include:
- NEW LED Sports Lighting System
- NEW Shade Structure Canopies
- NEW Dugouts, Backstops, & Foul Ball Fencing
- NEW Drainage System Between Fields
- NEW Perimeter Fencing
- NEW Bermuda Sod in Athletic Field
- NEW Sidewalks Around Concession Area & Common Areas
- Upgrading Community Room & Offices
- Upgrading Restroom Facilities
- Upgrading Concession Stand Facilities
- Laser Grading Clay Infields
We remain committed to keeping you informed and will provide an update on the park three months from now. If you have any questions before then, please feel free to contact our Parks & Recreation Department (Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at (786) 573-5502 or, to be more informed, attend our monthly Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee Meeting the first Monday of every month at 7 p.m. in our Town Hall Community Room.