Last week the Friends of the Underline completed their second round of community workshops to deliver an important follow-up regarding the Master Plan process of the 10-mile M-path. On Tuesday June 23, a meeting was held at Vizcaya Garage and focused on the M-Path from the Miami River south to Douglas Road, while the second meeting was on Thursday June 25, for those interested in the M-Path from Douglas Road, south to Dadeland.
The meetings were led by the consultant team James Corner Field Operations, based out of New York City. After a few opening remarks from public officials, the consultants then began to outline the direction of their design principles for The Underline. From improved intersections to habitat restoration to transit oriented development, the team has analyzed myriad of variables that stretch along the 10 miles of built environment.
Ultimately the Underline seeks to build a native-friendly, 10-mile habitat that includes amenities that fit with the general character of the surrounding neighborhoods along the corridor. The 4 main character zones described were Health & Fitness, Green Technology, Arts & Culture and Brickell’s Backyard. Health & Fitness would involve the trail segment from Dadeland to South Miami and incorporate trail amenities such as fitness stations and improved shade for those utilizing the trail for recreation, commuting and healthy exercise. Green Technology would focus around the University of Miami station and would host a variety of sustainable development practices such renewable energy fixtures & sources, rainwater capture and pop-up retail and dining. The Arts & Culture segment would focus on the Coconut Grove area and would provide a host of programming and pop-up events such as fresh markets, craft fairs, music, live performances and more. Public art displays would also be suitable in this location. Finally, Brickell’s Backyard would serve the north end of the trail and would seek to provide the urban community with a green refuge. With the tremendous amount of cement and asphalt in Brickell, the Underline would benefit residents with a corridor that takes them away from the noise and traffic and offer leisure amenities that brings them back to the natural beauty of Miami, before it was developed.
While the presentation was certainly inspiring, there are still many questions to be answered, and the Friends group were not shy in addressing them. The Friends were fully aware of the recent veto of state funds, but remain undeterred in their efforts to fund-raise. In addition, they also addressed the possibility of FPL erecting massive power lines along the trail. With that possibility, the design team is already building around where these poles would be located.
The master plan process is not over, and there will be another set of community meetings scheduled for September 2015. Best of luck to the design team, Friends of the Underline, volunteers and residents as they all work together to create a magnificent trail for the Miami community to enjoy!