Hundreds of trees planted, given away as part of Local 10 Green Street campaign

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Our Local 10 Community Relations team has embarked on many exciting projects through the years.

Many of them we simply couldn’t do without the help of our viewers.

A case in point is a neighborhood park we built a little more than nine years ago.

It all started with a report from our own Glenna Milberg and on Saturday morning, the team was back at Gratigny Plateau Park in northwest Miami-Dade, getting ready to plant and give away hundreds of trees as part of the station’s Green Street campaign.

Nine years ago, the park looked dramatically different. In fact, the playground didn’t exist, along with much of everything around it.

Gratigny Plateau Park was a far cry from what it is today.

It was April 2012 when Milberg discovered the park. The name on paper did not match the reality before her, as there were no swing sets, no slides and no kids playing.

One little boy she met described it best.

“It’s not a playground. It’s just an empty field,” he said.

Gratigny Plateau Park -- comprised of three parcels of land about a mile long -- was barren and unsightly. It sat in that sad state for decades as a lack of funding and resources had prevented its development.

But Local 10 had a vision.

Gratigny Plateau Park, located on Miami-Dade’s Northwest Eighth Avenue and 117th Street, would live up to its name.

A follow-up report informed viewers of our undertaking and a call to action was made.

A few days later, we met with a reputable South Florida landscape architect and construction firm. They volunteered to lead the building efforts.

Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces would help with fundraising and permitting.

In the weeks that followed, we held two meetings with residents to incorporate their ideas into the design.

By May, a flower rendering was unveiled, symbolizing new life for a community in need.

And in June, the groundbreaking ceremony took place. That initiated the next and longest phase of this project -- construction.

We worked behind-the-scenes, securing materials, while crews labored tirelessly out in the sun, relocating trees, pouring concrete, installing 900 linear feet of perimeter fencing, assembling the playground and exercise equipment, laying down 22,000 square feet of sod and planting more than two dozen shade trees and blooming shrubs.

Finally, two years later, in August of 2014, Gratigny Plateau Park was open for enjoyment.

And now you understand why we are so invested in maintaining this park.

Nine years later, as part of our second Green Street effort, we went back to Gratigny Plateau Park with more than three dozen volunteers from Local 10, Vera Cadillac Buick GMC and Miami-Dade Parks.

The hope is to create beautiful landscapes and increase tree canopy across South Florida.

“Miami-Dade County’s goal is to achieve a 30% tree canopy,” Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department spokesperson Gaby Lopez said. “It doesn’t sound like much, but we’re currently at 20%.”

We planted new shrubs and trees and giving away 250 trees to the good people of this neighborhood.

It’s a proud moment we are so happy to share with all our viewers.

“We have a commitment of planting 10,000 trees in South Florida,” WPLG Vice President and General Manager Bert Medina said. “And we want to make sure that our parks, schools, wherever we’re needed, we can do it and we are so happy to be here at this park. Because this has touched this community incredibly.”

About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."

Mayte Padron Cordones is an Emmy-award winning journalist and the director of WPLG's Community Relations Department, overseeing the station's outreach initiatives to benefit and strengthen the South Florida community.