In some ways this sounds too good to be true:
Miami Beach is poised to start work work on an elevated, safe pathway that would enable bicyclists, walkers and runners to pass from Belle Isle all the way to the beach along the Collins Canal south of Dade Boulevard.
The Dade Boulevard Mixed Use plan is fully funded. There is state money to rebuild and elevate the seawall on the Collins Canal (some of this work, from Washington Avenue east to 23rd Street, is already complete) and federal money to build the 8-foot-wide path and railing adjacent to the seawall.
On Tuesday, the city of Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board will be asked to bless the proposal. They might not.
The project — green in the sense that is will help boost Miami Beach’s growing bicycle culture — has run into opposition from Miami Beach’s Green Space Tree Advocacy Committee.
All of this will play out before the preservation board, which is involved because the Collins Canal is historically significant, and much of the pathway forms the northern boundary (along with the canal) of the historic Palm View neighborhood south of the canal.
Michael Jarboe, a Palm View resident and member of the Palm View Historic District Association, is an advocate of the proposal, which he says “is an amazing project too long in coming to provide safe travel on what has been one of the most dangerous streets in Miami Beach.”
A federal requirement for the pathway is that is be a minimum of eight feet wide. Imagine two bikes passing each other, or a runner and a bike, or a wheel chair and a bike, and that seems sensible.
Throughout most of the 2,900-foot length of the path, the completed project will include lusher vegetation than currently exists. All the greenery will be new because the existing greenery will be removed whether the path is built or not. That’s a result of the seawall work, which is already going forward.
But there is a 650-foot stretch of the 2900-foot-long path — south of the intersection of Dade Boulevard and Michigan, across from the old Publix — where there is no room for replacement trees if the path is built.
And that has become the focus of the fight.
“For this group, the trees trump public safety and even though nothing has ever really grown along this stretch except weeds, the odd bush and garbage,” the entire project is in jeopardy, Jorboe says.
On the rest of the route, the green canopy will be doubled from what’s there now.
One alternative suggested is rebuilding Dade Boulevard and shifting it north four feet to make more room for trees along the path. There’s no money in any budget to do that work, which has a cost estimate of $4 million.
Meanwhile, the Belle Isle Residents Association is backing the mixed-use path plan. So is Change.org, which is getting petition signatures in support. DecoBikes includeda link to the petition in its latest newsletter.
The meeting happens Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Miami Beach City Hall, 1700 Convention Center Dr.