Wouldn’t it be nice to have a long stretch of abandoned land transformed into a scenic green area with plenty of space to stroll through or bike across? This thought was exactly what prompted the idea of transforming an old railway track, stretching from Miller to Eighth Street and between 67th and 72nd Avenues, into a space the community can enjoy and use.
Last year, when Florida East Coast Industries (FECI) initially proposed the idea of the Ludlam Trail, it had only planned for about 25 percent of greenery with the other 75 percent of the space being more industrial. However, because of the lack of green space, the community didn't want anything to do with the plan, causing FECI to — quite literally — go back to the drawing board.
The commercial real estate company listened to the concern of the community and asked members to sketch what they wanted the trail to look like. After collecting countless sketches, FECI put the suggestions together, and now, there is a plan for nearly 80 percent of greenery. “We participated in collective meetings with the county and community members with concentrated efforts to listen to concerns,” explains Alfred Lurigados, director of corporate development at FECI. “Through the collaborations with the county, concerned community members, and Friends of the Ludlam Trail (FOLT), today’s plans call for the entire corridor to be 75-80 percent trail.”
“FECI has come a long way since their initial proposals for development along the corridor,” comments Anthony Garcia of FOLT.
A resident in the Ludlam Trail neighborhood, Garcia has been advocating for a trail of this sort for years. When he first heard about FECI and their plans, he immediately had the idea of creating a website to show support. “Over lunch one day with Collin Worth, the City of Miami bicycle pedestrian coordinator, we discussed the need for this project to have a community organization that could champion its implementation,” explains Garcia.
“That night I started a website at ludlamtrail.org
and the group has since grown from there into a board of over 20 neighborhood associations, environmental groups, and individual neighbors (including FECI) who are working to make this dream a reality.”
Garcia isn’t the only one who believes the trail will benefit the community. “The Ludlam Trail is a critical part of Miami-Dade’s history and — we strongly believe — its future,” says Lurigados, adding, “This project is transforming 6.2 miles of a former rail line into a world-class greenway that provides continuous connectivity to reduce congestion and enhance the adjacent neighborhoods.”
In collaboration with FECI, FOLT will be doing monthly community activations to showcase the value of the trail and rally support. The first of these Ludlam Days initiatives takes place tomorrow, Saturday, at A. D. Barnes Park and will be comprised of a bike ride through the proposed trail and a family picnic — a trial trail, if you will.
“There is a genuine excitement to activate the trail and for us to show the public our commitment to a dedicated greenway that combines thoughtful urban planning and neighborhood enhancement,” adds Lurigados.
The idea behind the Ludlam Days initiative is so that small improvements can be made to the stretch of land and new announcements unveiled to the community. “Over the next year, we hope to form a Conservancy Trust that will purchase the land from FECI,” says Garcia, bringing the Ludlam Trail one step closer to a completed reality. Currently, Lurigados explains, FECI is working through the Comprehensive Development Land Use Amendment process until the early part of 2016 in order to bring the Ludlam Trail into fruition.
“What has always drawn me to the Ludlam Trail is how remote and hidden it feels,” says Garcia poetically. “You can see a little of the hidden quality when you drive by, but the experience most people have of this corridor is a five-second glance. That’s the most they were allowed to have, until now.”
Ludlam Trail Inaugural Bike Ride and Family Picnic
Saturday, November 7, starting at 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at A.D. Barnes County Park, 3401 SW 72nd Ave., Miami. Visit ludlamtrail.org.