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Friday, August 18, 2017


        Coconut Grove residents live on a beautiful bay that is difficult to see it. Poor city planning has allowed trees, boats, and buildings to block the view. Fortunately, a few streets still end on the Biscayne Bay.
Each culminates in an incredible display of water,  distant buildings, and boats.

     One of them is Royal Road, two blocks south of the Grove Playhouse. Most of these bay view streets end in park-like settings. They are tidy, tranquil places reflecting the expensive housing nearby.

    Royal is unique in that it is unloved and uncared for.  The end of Royal Road is a dump, it's been that way since I arrived forty years ago. Back then there were eight houses and a huge estate lining the two-block street.  The road's residents made sure their vista point was taken care of.
    Now, because there is  just one house, a Ransom School parking lot, and a long line of trees, there is little life left on Royal Road. It has the feel of a lonely back ally that  leads to a magnificent bay view.

   I enjoy glancing at it as I ride my bike up Main Highway. Royal's trees form a dark tunnel and at its end, you can see a tiny blue window, the size of your smallest fingernail. I feel lucky when, in rare brief moments, I see a white triangle on that blue, a distant sailboat passing by. I'm reminded that I live in a special place.

    A walk down Royal Road takes you past fenced buildings and parking lots.  One residence remains on the north side, an iconic Alfred Browning Parker design. The entire south side is taken up by a line of tall pines that hide a huge estate. 

    Where Royal ends on Biscayne Bay is most remarkable.  It looks like a dump, uncared for by the city that owns it. Where asphalt ends, dirt begins and the dusty ground is strewn with trash.

    Sometime someone ties trash bags to the rusting 8-foot fences on each side. They quickly fill then overflow. 


Small smaller piles of consumer litter lie here and there as if to gather them will make they go away. 
    It is such a mess, it's as if the city is, through neglect, trying to keep people from visiting.  

      There are unreadable "no parking" signs

 and graffiti covering every surface.


 I like this one as it depicts my angelic birth year and King Mango after he died 8 years ago.

    Despite all this and the City of Miami's apparent effort to turn people away, they still ever day. 

   "Park Trashmore" is not for everyone. Most visitors are  a lower income  mix of Miami. The Grove Guy fits right in.

     It is also the West Grove's connection to the bay. Visitors come for sunrise, sunset, and lunch in between. Chicken bones and beer cans often litter the ground.  

     They come to this trash pile with a view because they have few options. Here they can still look at a far blue horizon and imagine what lies beyond.  The hill leading to it is boy-on-a-bike's thrill.
And, it's probably the only place in Coconut Grove where fishing is still allowed.

   This poor person's park is creepy and dark at night.  Few people venture into the dead-end ally

after sunset.  If you yelled for help only the manatee would hear.

      Since the 1980's I have asked City of Miami officials to clean the place up.
They've done nothing. 
      Six months ago I had a meeting with the city's parks and public works directors. They liked my clean-it-up proposal, mentioned budget restrictions and it remains a dump. 
   The parks director added he use to enjoy going there as a teenager. 

    Teens still go and it's a wonder they don't get sliced by broken glass. Last Tuesday evening I stopped by to take a head count. 
I saw,

   -A skateboarder tracing curves down the hill,
    - two joggers.
    -A romantic young couple staring at each other more than the bay,

    - two laughing twelve-year-olds arriving on their bikes.
- Three friends fishing (they caught enough for dinner!) and,

-Five teens lost in conversation.

   All this in a park the size of a house. 

  The east end of Royal Road is a public place on the water enjoyed by many. It's time we cleaned it up.

   It may finally happen as a group of Grovites are applying for a grant with the Miami Foundation
to do just that.

 Grove 2030's proposal -a finalist in a public space improvement competition- says they want to,

"beautify and strengthen the 30-by-60-foot plot so it can adapt to the sea-level rise changes of the future.  Further, developed a plan to convert the neglected hangout into a mini-park with a bench, picnic table, bike rack, kayak launch, dock and garbage cans. The landscape design would include rain gardens to filter the stormwater that runs down the sloping road into the bay and salt-tolerant plants and trees that could survive flooding."

In short, they want to make it nice. 

If the $21,000 grant comes through, the city says it is willing to assist. The county may help as well.  
The Miami Herald is coming out with an article on 2030's Royal Road proposal.  Here is the link,

Dead end in Coconut Grove could be a park rather than a magnet for cans and condoms

Let's hope forty years of neglect ends this year and
we finally get the little park we deserve at end of Royal  Road. 


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