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Last month, Councilwoman Judy Waldman gathered dozens of community leaders to discuss the future of the Biscayne-Everglades Greenway project. The meeting to advocate for the re-ignition of the trail is already producing results.
The Miami-Dade County Legislative Delegation recently voted unanimously to adopt the Biscayne-Everglades Greenway as a priority in their agenda. The project was introduced by City of Homestead Lobbyist Robert Levy, who was in attendance at the January Homestead meeting and who has been long involved in supporting Councilwoman Waldman’s vision for the Greenway. This Legislative Delegation is a pivotal voting bloc that influences the creation, direction and enforcement of public policy.
“This is a project that would benefit all of Miami-Dade County by offering an alternative to our visitors who are interested in enjoying our wonderful natural resources,” said Councilwoman Waldman. “The trail is the only one in the country that connects two national parks, and with the increased interest from our residents and tourists to exercise while enjoying nature, the Greenway Trail will act as a huge economic engine for the greater South Dade area.”
The Homestead Biscayne-Everglades Greenway meeting was also attended by representatives from the offices of Congressman Joe Garcia, State Representative Holly Raschein, State Representative Kionne McGhee, Homestead Vice Mayor Stephen R. Shelley, Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall and representatives from Rails to Trail Conservancy, the Everglades Bicycle Club, Biscayne National Park, Everglades National Park, South Florida Water Management District, Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation, and City of Homestead staff. The group vowed to support the project and proposed funding ideas as well as grassroots efforts to make this a priority in the state and federal levels.
The project started regaining traction last December, when the Greenway received a $15,000 grant from the National Parks Conservation Association to create a pilot portion of the path that would demonstrate how the entire trail could look with native plants landscaping, even gravel and rest stations. The Greenway Trail, the only bicycle and walking path that connects two national parks, is the vision of Councilwoman Judy Waldman, who for 12 years has tirelessly worked towards funding, promotion and utilization of this 42-mile multi-purpose park and trail system that links the natural, cultural and historical resources of South Florida.
This park-to-park Greenway loop provides a scenic, non-motorized tour route, for walking, jogging, bicycling, skating, competitive events, and passive activities such as bird watching or simply enjoying the natural beauty of the environment. The Master Plan of the project, which was spearheaded by Councilwoman Waldman in 2007, includes trail-heads that would be strategically placed to service patrons, along with pavilion comfort stations and/or rest-stops, removal of invasive plant species, and landscaping native plants and trees that foster native wildlife. The completed path would enhance the quality of life for local residents while offering a unique and attractive alternative for national and international visitors.
The Greenway has served as the trail for multiple City of Homestead Everglades and Biscayne Greenway Bicycle Festivals organized by Councilwoman Waldman. Over the past four years, the bike festival was a two-day ride that showcased Homestead as a town which encourages and supports bicycle riding for the whole family and highlights the Greenway Bike Trail as well as Everglades and Biscayne National Parks. The festival was sponsored by the City of Homestead and facilitated by Homestead Main Street and supported by the Dr. Paul Dudley White National Bicycling Foundation, established in 1962. Homestead was one of the premier communities to spark interest in bicycling safety and bikeways nationwide at the time. In 1961, the City of Homestead was officially named the 'City of Bicycles'; the first city to receive this title. A year later, in 1962, Homestead established the nation's first bikeway. The Biscayne-Everglades Bicycle Greenway will be a befitting tribute in recognition of these historic contributions by Homestead and its partnership with these two South Florida National Parks. With the focus on promoting the Biscayne-Everglades Greenway, this year the City will host a free Biscayne-Everglades Bike Festival on April 26th.
The City of Homestead, which was recently designated as the Gateway to the Everglades and Biscayne National Parks, has historically been a partner of the Everglades and Biscayne National Parks. Councilwoman Waldman’s concept to connect these two national parks was a long and arduous journey, which in 2003, resulted in the 42-mile Greenway. Growing up in Homestead, Councilwoman Waldman often visited the parks and wondered how they could be connected to highlight the beauty of what this community has to offer. She passionately advocated for this project from its inception. This project is ranked one of three in importance in the State, and one of eighteen in Washington. Dade County has embraced the Greenway as well, making it the number one focus over the next fifty years.