The Biscayne-Everglades Greenway Trail is receiving a $15,000 grant from the National Parks Conservation Association to create a pilot portion of the path that would demonstrate how the entire trail could look with native plants landscaping, even gravel and rest stations. The Greenway Trail, the only bicycle and walking path that connects two national parks, is the vision of Councilwoman Judy Waldman, who for 12 years has tirelessly worked towards funding, promotion and utilization of this 42-mile multi-purpose park and trail system that links the natural, cultural and historical resources of South Florida.
This park-to-park Greenway loop provides a scenic, non-motorized tour route, for walking, jogging, bicycling, skating, competitive events, and passive activities such as bird watching or simply enjoying the natural beauty of the environment. The Master Plan of the project, which was spearheaded by Councilwoman Waldman in 2007, includes trail-heads that would be strategically placed to service patrons, along with pavilion comfort stations and/or rest-stops, removal of invasive plant species, and landscaping native plants and trees that foster native wildlife. The completed path would enhance the quality of life for local residents while offering a unique and attractive alternative for national and international visitors.
“We are one of the only cities in America located between two national parks, and we have an amazing opportunity to connect these two parks through a greenway trail making this a national tourism destination,” said Councilwoman Judy Waldman during the check presentation at the August Homestead City Council meeting. “I thank the National Parks Conservation Association for providing the funds to create an example of what the entire Greenway will be. The Greenway Trail will act as a huge economic engine for the greater South Dade area. Bicyclists and other recreation enthusiasts will come from far and wide to enjoy the trail and our two national parks.”
The Greenway has served as the trail for multiple City of Homestead Everglades and Biscayne Greenway Bicycle Festivals organized by Councilwoman Waldman. The Bike Festival is a unique two-day event that showcases Homestead as a town which encourages and supports bicycle riding for the whole family and highlights the Greenway Bike Trail as well as Everglades and Biscayne National Parks. The festival is sponsored by the City of Homestead and facilitated by Homestead Main Street and is supported by the Dr. Paul Dudley White National Bicycling Foundation, established in 1962. Homestead was one of the premier communities to spark interest in bicycling safety and bikeways nationwide at the time. In 1961, the City of Homestead was officially named the 'City of Bicycles'; the first city to receive this title. A year later, in 1962, Homestead established the nation's first bikeway. The Biscayne-Everglades Bicycle Greenway will be a befitting tribute in recognition of these historic contributions by Homestead and its partnership with these two South Florida National Parks.
The City of Homestead, which was recently designated as the Gateway to the Everglades and Biscayne National Parks, has historically been a partner of the Everglades and Biscayne National Parks. Councilwoman Waldman’s concept to connect these two national parks was a long and arduous journey, which in 2003 resulted the 42-mile Greenway. Growing up in Homestead, Councilwoman Waldman often visited the parks and wondered how they could be connected to highlight the beauty of what this community has to offer. She passionately advocated for this project from its inception. This project is ranked one of three in importance in the State, and one of eighteen in Washington. Dade County has embraced the Greenway as well, making it the number one focus over the next fifty years.
Councilwoman Waldman and the City of Homestead continue to work with the National Park Service, Miami-Dade County, the State of Florida and Federal Government to secure funding to construct the Biscayne-Everglades Greenway project. A safer alternative to sharing the road with cars, the Greenway Trail will run mainly along levees and other green space through the historic cities of Homestead and Florida City, with endpoints at the visitor centers at Everglades and Biscayne National Parks. The project has been in the works for more than a decade and includes parcels of land owned by the City of Homestead and other parcels owned by outside entities, such as the South Florida Water Management District, for which Homestead has obtained agreements for access.
Councilman Stephen R. Shelley, who connected the NPCA with Councilwoman Waldman’s project, invited Representative Jacqueline Crucet to a special presentation at the August Homestead City Council meeting to present the City of Homestead with the check in support of the Biscayne-Everglades Greenway Trail project. The pilot project that will be funded by this grant will focus on a highly visible section of the route and will improve the trail with even gravel, removal of invasive plants, landscaping with native plants, and signage. Future projects will include the creation of rest areas with shaded structures and water stations. The improvement to the trail with landscaping and signage will serve to define the Greenway Trail as a continuous green corridor linking two national parks.
“NPCA is delighted to support this homegrown effort that will not only link two national parks but also provides locals and visitors an opportunity to navigate a portion of south Florida by walking or biking in nature and away from traffic and congestion,” said NPCA representative Jacqueline Crucet. “This Greenway Trail provides not only an alternative route to the parks, it changes the journey from cars and asphalt to a natural tranquil setting. NPCA hopes the City will be able to leverage this initial investment in the Greenway Trail to bring other organizations and companies to match this support so that bit by bit, we will see the 42-mile greenway trail loop complete.”