March: We launched an online petition to gain support for improvements to the Commodore Trail. Nearly 1,200 people have signed. View the petition here and sign it if you haven’t done that already.
April: Our first meeting of community leaders and supporters took place at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club. Co-chair Hank Sanchez-Resnik talked about the background of advocacy for the Trail. He started to focus on the Commodore Trail in 2005 when he became aware of a 2003 study that identified the Commodore Trail as the highest priority for trail improvement in Miami-Dade County.
Fall and Winter: For several months we focused on creating a core group of community leaders and supporters. We met mainly in each other’s homes and in local cafes. This was an intense time of building our base for action and making presentations to a variety of local organizations to familiarize them with the need to improve the Commodore Trail and enlist their support.
Winter-Spring Semester: An important step forward was our partnership with a studio class in the Landscape Architecture Department at FIU led by Professor Ebru Ozer. The students’ semester-long project was to design creative approaches to improving the Commodore Trail. We met several times with the students, both on the Trail and at FIU, and we participated in the review and assessment of their projects.
May: One of our leading partners, the Kampong, agreed to host an event featuring the FIU students’ presentations. Many community leaders attended the event, including Mayor Francis Suarez, District 2 Commissioner Ken Russell, and key members of the City of Miami staff. Two days after the event the Miami Herald published a front-page article about it. To read the article, click here.
September: The Miami Foundation awarded $25,000 to our proposed Public Space Challenge project. The project, currently under way and delayed because of Covid-19, will redesign and rebuild the intersection of Douglas Rd. and Ingraham Highway, one of the most dangerous places on the Commodore Trail.
October: Miami-Dade County District 7 Commissioner Xavier Suarez pledged $1.2 million in County transportation funds to improving the Commodore Trail. Subsequently the amount was increased to just over $2 million. Agreements linking Miami-Dade County and the Cities of Miami and Coral Gables were developed to create funded projects, including development of a Framework Plan to guide Trail planners over the long term.
Also in October, we incorporated Friends of the Commodore Trail as an independent nonprofit corporation. Previously, we had been a project of Bike Coconut Grove.
Covid-19 delayed or slowed many of our projects and plans. Nevertheless, we continued to move forward on many different fronts. They include:
- Development of a long-term strategic plan, including outreach to community leaders and local businesses and homeowner associations.
- Continued planning for our Public Space Challenge project at Douglas Rd. and Ingraham Highway. We have received an extension from the Miami Foundation and are working with the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County to develop specific steps to complete this project in the next year.
- Expansion of our board of directors. More here.
- Development and expansion of our new website, informational materials about the Commodore Trail, and an expanded social media presence. We launched our new website in October 2020 and will continue to expand it and add new features.
- A fundraising initiative to support staff for our organization who will carry the work forward for years to come.
As the community began to emerge from the constraints of Covid-19, we organized several successful events focused on outdoor gatherings, bicycling, and walking. They include:
- Secret Garden Tour (February). A biking-walking tour of several outstanding and little-known private gardens in Coconut Grove.
- Trail Mixer (November). Friends and Commodore Trail supporters came together for an afternoon get-together and social event at the Barnacle. It was enhanced by delicious BBQ cooked onsite and Grove-made key lime pies.
- Commodore Crawl (November). Local historian Iris Guzman Kolaya led this informative walk along the Commodore Trail that highlighted important historic sites. The event helped to raise funds for our organization and was completely sold out.
Throughout the year, we worked closely with the City of Miami to move forward in developing a master plan for the Commodore Trail. We anticipate 2022 will see widespread activity and community engagement related to the master plan.