!! Maintain Safe Access to West Matheson Hammock Park for Everyone !!

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To all Miami-Dade residents – you pay for this park, don’t let the Parks Department take it away! Make them change their “masterplan”.  
  
Matheson Park is the oldest park in Dade County, dating back to 1930. Most people know of East Matheson Park with the artificial lagoon and the marina, but there is also West Matheson Park, a beautiful mixture of open fields and natural forest. For years this park has been accessed via a gate off Schoolhouse Road or by walking up the scenic nature trail from Old Cutler Road. Due to political pressure from the Hammock Lake Home Owners’ Association, the Miami Dade Parks Department intend to waste $5 million of our taxes to make it radically less accessible to the general public and completely inaccessible to the handicapped persons who currently visit it daily. Their “masterplan” is to close the entire park for a few months this summer while they build a woefully ill conceived, one third of a mile long boardwalk up the nature trail from the Old Cutler Road car park. This boardwalk will be their justification to then close the Schoolhouse Road gate to all vehicles included those of the handicapped.   

We are an informal consortium of people who love this unspoilt piece of nature and have been fighting desperately to protect it from this politically driven development that was completely rejected when it was presented to the public back in 2008 and 2015.  Last year the Parks Department started construction work without getting the environmental permits required by their own rules. We crowd funded a legal counsel and filed an injunction forcing them respect their environmental obligations before proceeding any further. There is no doubt that the planned construction project will cause long term environmental damage to a vanishingly rare rockland hammock that is classified as Environmentally Endangered Land.  

Please sign this petition to support us in our endeavours to preserve this park for future generations.  
  
DISCUSSION  
Until the closure of all parks due to the pandemic, the general public could drive through the gate off Schoolhouse Road into West Matheson Park and park on the grass.  After an eventual reopening delayed by the HOA lobbying, this suddenly was no longer possible and now able-bodied visitors have to walk up the forest trail from the Old Cutler car park.  

For the moment those with handicapped badges are allowed to enter the park in their cars, but later in the year the Parks Department intend to change this.  They will force the handicapped and elderly to risk two thirds of a mile on a slippery, shaded boardwalk shared with dogs and bicycles. The radically increased risk of accidents is simply unacceptable and the whole idea is a flagrant disregard for the accessible parking principles of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Handicapped access via the north gate must be maintained.  

If the handicapped access via the north gate is maintained, then there is no need to make the nature trail up from Old Cutler car park ADA compliant. The unwanted and frankly silly boardwalk plan can be scrapped, the park does not have to be closed and the budget used elsewhere.  The nature trail can be patched as necessary with environmentally acceptable crushed coral stone, no more than that is needed.  

The Old Cutler car park is already too small so the Parks Department plan to halve it in size is not rational and must be revisited.

Due to public safety concerns, it is important that a means of traffic control is installed allowing cars to exit the Old Cutler car park safely. This can be incorporated into the planned pedestrian walkway across Old Cutler Road.  
  
PROPOSALS  
Maintain vehicular access into West Matheson Park via the north gate off Schoolhouse Road. 

 
Cancel the boardwalk construction project.  


Maintain the current number of parking places in the Old Cutler car park. 


Install traffic calming/control enabling the safe exit of cars from the car park onto Old Cutler Road.  .    



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