Community Connection Meeting #3 Recap

July 12, 2021
by Meg Daly

On Thursday, July 8th, 2021, Friends of The Underline held its third virtual Community Connection Meeting. Participants heard about our current initiatives: in partnership with Reimagining the Civic Commons, the creation of a goal-based framework for community outreach and metric-based reporting; Phase II and III construction progress; programs and art; Technology Master Plan. The event was moderated by Underline Community Outreach Manager Masi Faroqui. We also heard from our Chief Executive Officer Meg Daly, our Marketing Manager Ana Ruiz, our Chief Advancement Officer, Amy Rosenberg; our Events Coordinator, Ashley Gonzalez and our Chief Technology Officer, Breanna Faye.

During the meeting, we reiterated our opportunity for the community to participate in a Phase 2 Amenity Area Naming survey which ended Friday, July 9th, 2021. The outcomes to be revealed in Fall by mid-September 2021. The Underline team members offered various ways for the community to engage with our staff and presented some exciting initiatives as well.

Construction:

  • Our First Phase, the Brickell Backyard, is open and has been completed for about four and a half months.
  • Phase II will extend from Coral Way to Southwest 19th Ave and will be groundbreaking during the third week in August.
  • Phase III is about 7 miles long and extends from Southwest 19th Ave to Dadeland South. It was originally going to be done in many phases, but we have condensed it into one phase only, with the goal of completing those 7 miles by early 2026. This phase is in procurement, which is the specific process the county has for selecting a design and construction team. Many bids have been submitted, and other firms from all over the country will be invited to bid as well. The bid should be awarded in early 2022, followed by community engagement, and then construction should begin by the end of 2022.

Safety, Mobility, and Sustainability:

  • Commissioner Eileen Higgins hosted a meet and greet with Miami Police Department on The Underline, which was well attended. Officers gave away free ice cream and offered many solutions to residential, traffic, and noise problems.
  • We have had several discussions with the Florida Department of Transportation, who has agreed to improve change pedestrian signals on SW 7th during peak hours, so pedestrians have the right of way. We also have a request to the department to extend the amount of time for pedestrians to cross major state roads such as SW 7th, 8th, and 8th Street.
  • Partnership with local scooter companies to offer First Ride NIght to anyone who comes to The Underline’s Brickell Backyard and would like to try a scooter for free. We would just like to add that The Underline is considered a slow zone for scooters.
  • The rainy season has begun, and so our 30,000 native plants and trees are bouncing back from the heat of the Spring and are bringing lots of native butterflies, birds, and bees with them.

Programming & Art:

  • Our priority is to create programming for, and with our community. We have had a range of programming since opening in late February everything from a poetry dance party with a book give away to wedding events, pet adoptions with our partners Miami Dade Animal Services and Friends of Miami Animal Foundation to ballet
  • We just finished a pilot program which was funded by the Namid Foundation where we had 16 and 17-year-old underresourced high schools students lead weekend tours our partner was another local non-profit called Breakthrough Miami the students learned in-depth about our horticulture, history, and programming and were able to convey that information to park guests over the three month period we saw the students grow as leaders and speakers
  • Our public art program is developed in coordination with Art in Public Places we have introduced three installations to the park; 1) Disappearing treasures by Jennifer Basile; 2) The allegory by Edny Jean-Joseph and; 3) Water tables by Cara Despain. These are all local and diverse artists and their work showcases the history of Miami and the fragility of our ecosystem.

Events:

  • We have hosted several community events including: a basketball event with Big Brothers Big Sisters, a run with RedBull, the first in a series of three Tech Talks, and a Ping Pong Event.
  • The Underline has a variety of spaces that feature a stylish, unique, and urban backdrop for your event.
  • Please reach out to Ashley Gonzalez, our Event Coordinator to find out more about our rental opportunities.

Technology:

  • We have made exciting progress at the Underline. In our last community meeting, we had Urban Sense talk a little about our Technology Master Plan that we were just beginning. We are now happy to report that we have had a lot of progress in the Tech Master Plan and have actually completed a recent draft.
  • Our Technology Master Plan was developed to help us figure out exactly what technology means for a park and public space like the Underline. It took many months of work, workshops, community and neighborhood meetings, and receiving feedback about what technological initiatives people would like to see. After many stakeholder interviews and workshops, communication with county and city officials as well as technology experts, we were able to synthesize that information and create our Tech Master Plan.
  • This Master Plan outlines a vision, guiding principles, and a roadmap for what kind of technology should be approached and implemented at the Underline.
  • Our user engagement approach aims to build trust with the community by allowing members of the community to give feedback and voice their concerns. In that way, we are able to tackle issues head-on and give the community input for future developments. Policy partners and staffing help us to establish guidelines to help us decide what type of partnerships make sense in relation to technology.
  • An exciting initiative we have recently taken on is being able to provide free internet connectivity on site.
  • An initiative we are currently working on is an events and reservations platform that will make it easier to navigate everything the Underline has to offer.
  • We have also begun a Digitally Enhanced Arts and Nature initiative, which is an exciting way to engage with the park.
  • We launched an Augmented Reality app in partnership with Miami Dade College, which was built entirely by students. The Dig&Learn app is available for both Apple and Android devices and is great for kids. Through this app, you are able to use your phone to interact with butterflies and plant species throughout the park. The app explains what types of butterflies are in South Florida, and we plan on extending that to include caterpillars and other animal species. Through this app, we hope to enhance the experience of the park as well as inform visitors of the nature surrounding them.
  • To learn more about the Dig&Learn app and test it out, visit this link: https://www.theunderline.org/2021/05/05/miami-dade-college-and-the-underline-launch-dig-learn-augmented-reality-mobile-game-to-experience-miami-history-and-nature/

Nora Viñas, District Coordinator, Office of Commissioner Eileen Higgins – District 5, Miami-Dade County talked about events held at The Underline’s Brickell Backyard and initiatives to enhance community concerns and Abby Ape, Director of Community Outreach at Brickell Homeowners Association discussed a side-walk restoration initiative and a partnership with Brickell City Center and KLA Elementary for free weekly children art workshops for the month of July.

The community showed great interest in sharing their priorities of safety, mobility, diversity, and inclusivity and programs about nature and music. It was encouraging that attendees are most enjoying walking, butterflies, and the seating in Brickell Backyard. Find the live survey results here.

Q & A updates were provided. Click here to see our Q&A results. If you missed the meeting please click here to view the recording.

Learn more about our upcoming meetings and stay involved with The Underline by volunteering and joining our Facebook group here. You may also send questions or comments to: hello@TheUnderline.org. Hope to see you at our next Community Connection Meeting!

About Community Connection Meetings:
Community Connection Meetings are virtual quarterly meetings put together by The Underline to connect directly with our team and community. This is where you will have a chance to make yourself heard and learn more about The Underline’s progress and initiatives. Community Connection Meetings are managed and produced by our Community Outreach Manager, Masi Faroqui.