Opinion: Where Would You Spend $100,000 On North Ponce De Leon?

Alexander Adams

Adams is a certified accredited urban design planner, preservationist, and sustainability professional with double master’s degrees in Architecture-Urban Design and Planning and bachelor’s degree in Environmental Policy. He has over 20 years of experience in public and private business and lives in Coral Gables.

I recently saw a presentation at City Council on “improvements” to the Ponce de Leon corridor north of Alhambra Drive. As a resident who has lived 1 block off this area for over 10 years, I was initially grateful that city council might be coming back to complete the medians north to SW 8th Street or replace dead palm trees along the corridor. It could be helpful to paint pedestrian crosswalks at each of the street intersections or even better would be mid-block pedestrian flashing beacons to promote safety, calm traffic speeds, and allow residents easy access to restaurants and businesses. However, I think you will be as shocked as I was to learn that the city is considering spending $100,000 to tear out the current lush median plantings and add new plants that would be “easier to clean trash around”.

Why on earth are we going to take out great looking low maintenance shrubs along one of the nicest medians in the city? Have you seen Alcazar Ave, Minorca Ave, Navarre Ave, or Majorca Ave that all have zero landscaping in this area? No street trees no lighting nothing. Have you seen the city’s entrance at Alhambra Way where the same proposed plants were planted 2 years ago and everything is dead? I would spend this money beautifying these blighted areas before I remove lush green durable shrubs in the medians that match all of the rest of the Ponce de Leon corridor streetscape and many other city medians. We all know that if this area is replaced, then another $100,000 will be spent south of Alhambra to replace similar medians there as well. If the council would like to help beautify this corridor, they could take the concrete out of the corner ends of the medians and replace it with seasonal flowers. We need to continue to expand the existing landscaping north to SW 8th Street and south of Flagler Street vs replacing the existing plants.

I could think of 20+ projects to better spend our public funds in this neighborhood. Pedestrian safety upgrades on Alhambra Circle and Alhambra entrance would be a great start. Expanding intersection bulb outs and painting crosswalks all along Galiano Street would allow the stop signs to be placed out next to the street and be visible to cars vs back at the sidewalk obstructed from view behind parked cars. (We wonder why people don’t stop at these 4-way stop intersections.) Maybe replacing trolley signage along the Ponce corridor and adding new Saturday schedules. Improving the triangle park at Antilla Avenue and expanding the park out into the right of way that is striped off along Ponce and removing southbound traffic on East Ponce de Leon between Antilla and Sidonia would almost double the size of this little neighborhood park. Creating an agreement with Coral Gables Preparatory Lower School could open their play/park space similar to Phillips Park and the Coral Gables Preparatory Upper School 2 blocks away share public space. This would double the size of parks in the neighborhood.

Let’s move forward to expand trees, lighting, and parks across the neighborhood. Let’s expand the existing Ponce de Leon medians north. Let’s create safer street intersection for pedestrians and calm traffic. Again I ask, where would you spend $100,000 along the North Ponce corridor?


16 thoughts on “Opinion: Where Would You Spend $100,000 On North Ponce De Leon?

  1. I have mentioned several times in past comments that the street surface between Miracle and Tamiami is pothole heaven. This is what needs to be done first. Repave that area and stop worrying
    about so called beautification. Just take care of the existing areas properly.
    If the existing landscape is difficult to maintain, why was it planted in the first place , besides if you have lemons , make lemonade. A little more dedication by the maintenance crews and supervisors is a job requitement
    Bureaucracy feeds on itself. Tragic.


    In 2018, a motion was made by the Historic Preservation Board for “staff to present to them a comprehensive study of the North Ponce portion of the city…” However, in 2019, staff submitted a memo explaining that “we have not been able to allocate the required resources to complete the project.”

    Time is working against this area and lack of landscaping is one of many issues affecting it. One dire situation is the potential loss of an entire 10-parcel block that includes a 70+ year old memorial garden and meditative space to make way for a high rise condo. The area has several heritage trees and one particular tree with a substantial pedigree. FOR FURTHER DETAILS PLEASE CONTACT info at historiccoralgables dot org

    The City’s North Ponce historic apartment house area, also known as the “garden district,” is comprised of many properties 50 years and older and has been a beacon for affordable housing since its original development. The area, made up of one- and two-story multi-family units, is quaint and nostalgic. One can still enjoy a nature walk among Spanish moss-covered trees and sculptural fountains, but for how long?

    The City Commission must prioritize the research and study of the North Ponce portion of the city and allocate resources for staff to develop a master plan that would survey each remaining resource in the “garden district” with the objective of creating a blueprint that would help with the preservation of this neighborhood, as recommended by the City’s Historic Preservation Board.

  3. Thank you for pointing out the neglect the City has for these parts of North Gables. Over ten years ago the City crest a master plan for the area that we are yet to see materialize. The Alhambra Circle entrance was landscaped not even a year ago to only be stripped again. We need more waste bins as these open areas are constantly full of plastic bottles and trash. Sidewalks on Madeira are in desperate need of repairs. We need to advocate for the implementation of the Plan https://www.coralgables.com/media/Development%20Services/Planning/2002%20Charrette/GablesCharretteFinalReportApril2002.pdf

  4. Coral Gables Alhambra entrance and picture brought up in the original article is a manifestation of the poor landscape planning; plant perennials like coonties to give a space to beautiful Atala butterflies. Once you planted water and then let them grow (rather than let them dry out and pull them out). Maintain rather than pull out the landscaping on Ponce. Take care of the leaning palm trees. Add additional garbage cans on side walks. So many logical things to do rather than pull established shrubs.

  5. Maya- YOu are SO right. Gables by the Sea has been begging for shade trees for 25 years and the city continues to plant species ( the few trees they have planted) that not only do not make shade canopy, they die. The keep planting silver buttonwoods and queen palms as “shade trees”. Even the ones that have been there for 15-20 years are ripped up garbage. The group that is in charge of landscaping is arrogant and refuses to listen to residents.
    Have had enough. All the “greenie” talk is just talk. Shade would reduce our watering needs, reduce electricity usage, provide pavement to our pets that does not scorch their feet, etc.

  6. The North Ponce area of CG is the foster child of the commission & mayor they could give a rats as about-too busy approving, bumping up legal 7 floor zonings to illegal 14 floor zoning heights for their deep pocket developer friends.

  7. So much money is wasted by this current Commission and Mayor of Coral Gables. Yes, that money needs to be properly allocated to the above-mentioned traffic calming solutions and crosswalk / street sign improvements. Why are there no digital real-time speed signs all along that Ponce de Leon corridor? The City needs to learn from their failures, not continue making them. I wonder if anyone learned from the those two Passionflower art sculpture installations on Segovia that have been disasters?

  8. Thanks for bringing this up to the residents. Yes, seems like pilfering money. And if it costs 100k to maintain that hideous multicolor crosswalk by City Hall, that is just outrageous. It looks ordinary and clashes against the palette of the Gables.

    What Ponce de Leon desperately needs is SHADE!

  9. Ms Zully Pardo asks for traffic-calming devices in her north Ponce area.

    What about this: plop some street signs that say “Drivers Calm Down!” There, that ought to solve the problem.

    Heck, we plop useless signs all over our City, why not some more silly ones to add to that collection.

  10. Let’s not forget that Coral Gables via Ponce de Leon extends N past 8th St to Flagler St, of which the Coral Gables Flagler Terrace Neighborhood is a part of. As a 40+ year resident of this neighborhood, we have been a long time waiting for much needed traffic calming to include safe pedestrian crosswalks on Ponce. Yes, let’s move forward to expand our canopy, lighting and security to include our neighborhood park and playground.

  11. There is mo legitimate explanation why it has taken so long for them to complete the medians north to SW 8th Street. I have lived in Coral Gables and have located my business in Coral Gables for years (my office is on Ponce de Leon Boulevard). The conspicuous absence of medians on that portion of Ponce is bizarre.

  12. Pedestrian crosswalks on Minorca & Alhambra and Navarre & Alhambra
    Fix the actual street on Ponce heading north towards 8th street (so many potholes). Fix sidewalks around coral gables preschool.

  13. Remove the hideous rainbow chalk crosswalks at City Hall and eliminate $100k a year in “maintenance”. That, or invite preschoolers to chalk out the crosswalk while playing hopscotch—same result.

  14. Start by painting the gates and polls that are users to block off the streets like Medina. The city beautiful does not take care of them and they look like an eyesore Plus upgrade the streets- to many patches or filling in potholes.

  15. A fool and his money are soon parted. That fits the mayor and the small-time lawyers/commisioners. They all must go.

  16. Our Commission spends our money like drunken sailors, with apologies to drunken sailors.

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