Local 10 spearheads Gratigny Plateau Park makeover

The One and Only Local 10 News Reporter Glenna Milberg's idea blossomed into a labor of love for a community in need

Author: Glenna Milberg, Reporter, gmilberg@Local10.com
Andrea Torres, Local10.com Reporter, atorres@local10.com
Published On: Apr 18 2012 06:25:02 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 06 2014 08:40:34 PM EDT
Ribbon cutting ceremony
MIAMI-DADE, Fla. -

The One and Only Local10 News' latest Make a Difference project took two years to complete.

In 2012, The One and Only Local 10 News Reporter Glenna Milberg worked on a story about the desolated land listed as Gratigny Plateau Park.

In the forgotten Pinewood neighborhood, three undeveloped properties near Northwest 8th Avenue and 117th Street were part of the Miami-Dade County Parks and Recreations inventory. Records showed the former property owners deeded the land asking that it be turned into a public park.

Project begins April 18, 2012

A barren park in the middle of a Miami-Dade neighborhood may not look like much, but that's about to change.

Milberg learned that lack of funding and resources prevented the development. 

Despite regular maintenance, the lots were magnets for parked cars, garbage and dangerous pieces of broken glass.

 "We're following the course with the money we've been given to spend," said Miami-Dade County Parks Director Jack Kardys in 2012. "If we find money through impact fees or something, we will certainly invest in parks like this."

Park progress Oct. 22, 2013

Kardys spoke with Local10 News after an event at Fairchild Tropical Gardens, one of the county's crown jewels of a park that is largely sustained through engaged, private donors and volunteers.

Local10 News spearheaded that same spirit by harnessing resources to develop Gratigny Plateau Park with direction from the community.

Opening day: Live at 5:30 p.m.

VIOLATED PROCEDURE. AGENTS SAID THEY WAS GOING TO TRAFFIC WEAPONS BUT HE SAYS HE SIMPLY MADE A WRONG TURN. WE HERE AT LOCAL10 NEWS ARE CELEBRATING THE COMPLETION OF OUR FIRST MAKING A DIFFERENCE PROJECT IN NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE TODAY. WITH THE HELP OF SOME LOCAL COMPANIES WE HAVE CREATED GRATIGNY PLATEAU PARK OUT OF SOME UNUSED LOTS. THREE UNUSED LOTS TO BE SPECIFIC, AND OUR OWN CALVIN HUGHES JOINS US LIVE FROM THE NEW PARK WITH MORE ON TODAY'S GRAND OPENING. CALVIN, IT LOOKS LIKE A BUNCH OF KIDS HAVE FINALLY SHOWN UP. Reporter: OH, YES, THEY'RE ALL BEHIND ME AND THEY'RE ALL IN THE PARK HERE. THEY ARE JUST TAKING FULL ADVANTAGE OF I THINK APPLICANTS ABOUT P. SOME FOLKS ON STAGE ALREADY EXCITED, THEY WERE JUST DANCING ABOUT HAVING THIS BRAND NEW PARK IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD, THE FIRST ONE IN DECADE. ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THEM THE TODDLER PLAYGROUND. BUT RIGHT HERE, RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE YOU SEE FOLKS WHO ARE ON THE TREAT STREET. IT'S BEEN BLOCKED OFF BECAUSE THEY'RE HAVING A BLOCK PARTY TO CELEBRATE THIS GREAT MOMENT FOR THIS NEIGHBORHOOD. A LOT OF FOLKS ARRIVING AND I'M STANDING IN THE THE FITNESS AREA. THIS IS ONE OF EIGHT FITNESS STATIONS I'M GOING TO SHOW YOU. THIS IS THE ASSISTED ROW AND PUSH-UP AREA. I'M GOING TO TRY TO IMITATE A PUSH-UP THAT THE FOLKS WILL END UP DOING OUT HERE, BUT THIS IS ONE OF THE AREAS THAT THEY WILL HAVE FUN JUST EXERCISING. AND I WILL TELL YOU THIS IS A GREAT, GREAT PARK. AND TO KNOW THAT THIS WAS JUST A KAY CAN'T LOT TWO YEARS AGO, AND THIS -- VACANT LOT TWO YEARS AGO AND THIS PROJECT CAME ABOUT BECAUSE OF OUR VERY OWN GLENNA MILBERG WHO WAS DOING A STORY. SHE SAID MAYBE I SHOULD GO BACK AND TALK WITH MY NEWS MANAGERS TO TRANSFORM THIS AREA THAT HAS BEEN NEGLECTED SO LONG. SO SHE DID AND OUR NEWS MANAGER SAID WE'RE GOING TO JUMP ONBOARD, AND THE TWO PEOPLE BEHIND THIS PROJECT, AREET PRESIDENT BETTER MEDINA, NICE TO SEE YOU AS ALWAYS, AND THE PRODUCER WHO MADE THIS POSSIBLE WHO PUT THIS ENTIRE EVENT TOGETHER TODAY. I GUESS THE REAL QUESTION IS GLENNA CAME BACK AND SAID LET'S JUMP ON BOARD AND TRY TO DO THIS. WHY DID YOU SAY LET'S CONTINUE THIS PROJECT FOR THIS NEIGHBORHOOD? SIMPLY PUT, IT REALLY GIVES US A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO GIVE BACK TO OUR COMMUNITY, AND AS PEOPLE WHO HAVE GROWN UP IN THIS MARKET LIKE MYSELF, THIS IS A FANTASTIC THING TO DO. WHEN YOU SEE THE KIDS IN THE PARK, WHEN YOU SEE THE FAMILIES COME OUT HERE, IT'S MADE THE LAST TWO YEARS ALL WELL WORTH IT. NO, DOUBT ABOUT IT. THE LOOKS ON THEIR FACES, OH, MOI GOSH, IT IS REALLY AMAZING. THEY ARE LIGHTING UP LIKE CHRISTMAS TREES AROUND HERE. WE SORT OF JUMPED INTO THIS PROJECT THINKING MAYBE IN A COUPLE OF MONTHS WE'LL KNOCK THIS OUT. NOT THE CASE, RIGHT? WE HAD NO EXPERIENCE WHATSOEVER IN BUILDING PARKS. WE HAVE BUILT MANY HOMES, DONE MANY COMMUNITY PROJECTS, A LOT OF GOOD THINGS IN THIS COMMUNITY, BUT THIS WAS OUR VERY FIRST PARK. IT TOOK TWO YEARS PERMITTING,Y THE PEOPLE WHO CAME THROUGH DONATING THE MATERIALS AND THE TIME, AND TWO YEARS LATER I THINK IT WAS ALL WORTHWHILE. THIS IS THE RESULT. THE CHILDREN ARE HAPPY. THE RESIDENTS ARE ECSTATIC AS YOU MENTIONED. AND I THINK IT'S A GREAT THING AND IT'S GOEBEL WONDERFUL FOR THIS COMMUNITY FOR GENERATIONS TO COME. AND IS YOU SOW KNOW AS A PRODUCER WE ONLY HAVE A SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME BUT THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE TO THANK. BUT ARE, WE CAN BEGIN WITH YOU ON THAT SUBJECT. FIRST I'D LIKE TO THANK OUR ENTIRE TEAM THAT BROUGHT GLENNA BRINGING THIS UP TO US AND MILLER CONSTRUCTION, THE ARCHITECT. THERE'S JUST SO MANY PEOPLE WHO HAVE MADE THIS A REALITY. WITHOUT THEM WE COULDN'T HAVE I DIDN'T, CALVIN. NAME DROP FOR ME. MIAMI-DADE COUNTY REALLY STEPPED UP, THE PARKS FOUNDATION OF MIAMI-DADE. THEY WERE A NON-PROFIT. EDSA, MILLER CONSTRUCTION, KONA GRAVE, THE, A AFFECT THE. McLAUGHLIN ENGINEERING DONATED THOUSANDS DOLLARS TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN, AND MANY MORE THAT ARE FEATURED ON THE SIGN BEHIND ME, AND PEOPLE GET TO SEE WHY THIS PARK PARK REMAINS HERE. THANK YOU. THE PRODUCERS BACK AT THE STATION ARE NOT AS LIKING ME FOR TAKING SO MUCH TIME BUT I HAVE EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE. I'M STANDING NEXT TO BUT ARE BURT SO I CAN GET AWAY WITH THAT. AT 6:00 WE'RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT WHAT BURT TALKED ABOUT, THE CHILDREN, THE LOOKS ON THEIR FACES. IT'S AMAZING TO SEE THEM COME OUT HERE AND SEE THEIR VERY FIRST PARK, THE FIRST ONE IN

"Bravo! That's nice," said resident Michelle Chenet.  "I'd like to see playground, swings and slides."

The public-private partnership included dozens of South Florida companies and volunteers. Miami-Dade County officials worked with the donors to overcome obstacles. The One and Only Local 10 News Special Projects Producer Mayte Padron coordinated the effort with Miller Construction.

The vision of a flower-shaped path bloomed August 6. After two years of hard work, Chenet and other residents were able to explore the park when it opened to the public with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

"The children are happy. The residents are ecstatic ... It's going to be wonderful for this community for generations to come," Padron said.

Opening day: Ribbon cutting

THERE CAN. IT'S THE MOMENT WE'VE AWAY. WAITING FOR, THE OFFICIAL GRAND OPENING OF GRATIGNY PLATEAU PARK. CALVIN JOINS US LIVE AGAIN FROM NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE TO DO THE HONORS. HI THERE. HI THIS, LAURIE. EVERYBODY IS IN PLACE. THE RIBBON IS IN PLACE. SHE IS GOING TO COUNT US DOWN FROM A FIVE WITH FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE. RIGHT IN CENTER IS THE PRESIDENT OF WPLG, THE COMMISSIONER JOHN MONASTEEN. AND THERE YOU GO! YES! [ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ] A BRAND NEW PARK OVER HERE IN NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, AND THE KIDS ARE SO EXCITED, SO EXCITED. IN FACT, ONE RESIDENT TOLD ME THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE THE FORGOTTEN NEIGHBORHOOD OVER HERE, SO THE KIDS SO EXCITED TO BE A PART OF THIS. TO MY RIGHT HERE EIGHT FITNESS STATIONS FOR EVERYBODY TO PART IN. FOR ALL THE ADULTS AND THE CHILDREN. TO MY LEFT, THE TODDLER PLAYGROUND JUST BEHIND THE STAGE OVER HERE. AND THEN YOU HAVE ONE THIRD LOT THAT'S STILL SORT OF UNDER CONSTRUCTION. THAT'S THE FLOWER BED. BUT THE KIDS, AS YOU CAN SEE THERE, SO EXCITED. ARE YOU EXCITED TO HAVE THIS PARK? YES. ARE YOU EXCITED TO HAVE THIS PARK? YES. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? WHAT'S THE FIRST THING YOU'RE GOING TO DO IN THE PARK? I'M GOING TO PLAY. YOU'VE BEEN WAITING A LONG TIME FOR THIS. YES. VERY GOOD. SO, GUYS, I'LL SEND IT BACK TO YOU AS I'M SURROUNDED BY KID WHO CAN'T WAIT TO GO TO THE NEW GRATIGNY PLATEAU PARK. THAT'S BEEN A LABOR LOVE FOR LOCAL10 FROM DAY ONE. TWO YEARS AGO GOING BACK TO APRIL 2012 TO NOW TWO YEARS LATER. WE NEVER THOUGHT IT GOING TO BE THIS YOU OF RAPHE WAIT TO GET HERE. CALVIN, WHEN YOU AND I WERE OUT THERE A YEAR AGO WE MET SO MANY KIDS WHEN IT AS WAS JUST SAND AND GRASS ON THE GROUND, AND YOU SENSE THEY'RE REALLY GOING TO TAKE CARE OF THIS PLACE BECAUSE THEY'VE WATCHED IT GROW. Reporter: ABSOLUTELY. THAT WAS SORT OF THE TALK OVER HERE. THEY ARE NOT GOING TO ALLOW THIS TO BECOME WHAT IT WAS. THE TRANSFORMATION PROCESS TOOK SO LONG FOR THEM, THEY SAY THERE IS NO WAY THEY'RE GOING BACK. IT'S ALL ABOUT LOOKING FORWARD. AND SO THESE GUYS ARE GOING TO TAKE CARE OF IT. AS I SHOWED YOU AT ABOUT 5:30, I SHOWED YOU SOME OF THE RULES FOR THIS PARK. THIS PARK IS GOING TO CLOSE. WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN, THIS PARK IS OFF LIMITS, SO THE FOLKS HERE ARE REALLY GOING TO TAKE CARE OF THIS. I HAVE NO DOUBT ABOUT THAT. YOU HAVE SOME FOLKS THAT HAVE LIVED HERE FOR FIVE DECADE, AND THOSE ARE THE FOLKS THAT ARE GOING TO BE THE GATEKEEPERS WHO WILL NEVER LET THIS PARK GO BACK. I CAN'T WAIT TO START PLAYING MYSELF. IN FACT WEST NILE GOING TO START PLAYING AS SOON AS I FINISH THIS REPORT. THERE'S NOT AN ACTUAL BASKETBALL COURT BUT THERE'S EVERYTHING ELSE. THERE'S NO BASKETBALL COURT BUT THERE'S THERE ARE FITNESS STATIONS FOR ALL THE GUYS OVER THERE. I TRIED TO IMITATE EXERCISES TO SHOW YOU WHAT SOME OF THE FITNESS EXERCISES, FITNESS STATIONS ARE BUT THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS FOR THE KIDS AND ADULTS TO DO JUST OVER HERE TO MY RIGHT. NO BASKETBALL COURTS, BUT I REALLY WISH THAT WAS OUT HERE BECAUSE WE COULD USE A HOME-GROWN LEBRON JAMES CONSIDERING WHAT HAPPENED TO US THIS SUMMER, DON'T YOU THINK? THAT SOUNDS GOOD. IT LOOK LIKE IT'S REALLY JUST TRANSFORMED THE NEIGHBORHOOD THERE, SO GREAT TO SEE ALL OF

The One and Only Local 10 News President Bert Medina, who grew up in Miami-Dade, was at the ribbon cutting ceremony. Medina encouraged the Local 10 News team to contribute to the Make a Difference park project.

The project gave Local 10 News "a great opportunity to give back to our community ... This is a fantastic thing to do," Medina said. "When you see the kids in the park, when you see the families come out here, it has made the last two years all real worth it."

SPECIAL SECTION: Complete coverage of Gratigny Plateau Park