29 Sep FROM OPA-LOCKA TO SOUTH DADE, THIS YEAR’S PUBLIC SPACE CHALLENGE WINNERS IMPROVE HOW MIAMIANS NAVIGATE THE CITY

From South Grove to Opa-locka, mobility will get a South Florida-style boost, complements of the 2019 Public Space Challenge winners. The 12 top concepts from The Miami Foundation’s annual crowd-sourcing ideas contest will share $250,000 in funding to implement projects that make getting around Greater Miami easier. Target continues to be a long-running Challenge partner, helping to fund and support winning ideas that encourage thriving and connected communities.

This year’s Challenge asked residents to submit ideas around four categories: walking, biking, streets and sidewalks, and public transit. Winning concepts will boost and improve pedestrian and cycling access and safety, as well as consider alternative modes of transit. Take, for example, the bikeway-improvement project submitted by The Friends of the Commodore Trail. The group will use their $25,000 grant to widen and clean-up the popular pathway in South Coconut Grove, making it safer and more accessible for the 76,000 residents who live within a mile of it. Nearby, neighbors in Little Havana – who use public transit three-times more than other Miamians – will see custom benches at bus and trolley stops throughout the area, thanks to Urban Health Partnerships’ $19,000 award. Those who frequent the Miami Central Business District will benefit from Avenue 3 Miami’s $22,250-improvement project, which will add lighting, shade and designated spots for alternative transportation, like scooters, along NE 3rd Avenue.

“When people have access to different ways of getting around a city, it becomes easier for residents to connect with one another and the place they live,” said Dawn Shirreffs, senior director of public affairs for The Miami Foundation. “The better-connected our community, the more stronger we become. We’re thrilled to see our residents champion solutions to improve mobility to improve our community’s physical, economic and social health.”

Challenge-winning ideas also leverage waterways as a mode of transportation. For example, the Foundation will invest $25,000 in a pilot ferry that will provide round-trip service between Palmetto Bay, downtown Miami and Miami Beach. Savino & Miller Design Studio will use their $25,000 in funding to build a floating connection made of recycled and reclaimed materials under the MacArthur Causeway, connecting sections of the Baywalk.

Other funded projects will add beauty and art to Miami’s cityscape, such as painted crosswalks at four public schools – Sunset Elementary School, Ponce de Leon Middle Schools, David Fairchild Elementary and South Miami K-8 Center. Local nonprofits O, Miami and the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation will collaborate to illuminate unlit thoroughfares with poetry-projecting lamps.

In addition, the Velocia app team will integrate rewards point offers with the 2019 Challenge-winning ideas to incentivize use of transportation alternatives and engage residents with this year’s mobility-themed projects.

“I don’t think you can separate ‘public space’ from ‘community,’” said Public Space Challenge winner, P. Scott Cunningham, Founder/Director of O, Miami Poetry Festival and lead applicant for the Opa-Locka Light Project. “They go hand-in-hand. If we don’t have mobility to get to places where we can freely gather and interact with one another, we don’t have communities.”

Since 2013, the Public Space Challenge has invested more than $1.5 million in ideas that create, activate or improve our local parks and public spaces. Each winner will receive technical assistance from The Miami Foundation to work with the county and municipal offices in executing their projects. To learn more about all the ideas submitted this year, visit PublicSpaceChallenge.org.

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