MIAMI (CBS4) – A recreational renaissance is underway in one Miami neighborhood. Overtown’s newly renovated Gibson Park is set to open Tuesday.
A pristine pool and a neatly manicured football field both bring the promise of future fun and renewed hope.
Emanuel Washington, the Executive Director of the Overtown Optimist Club, said the revamped park a blessing for kids.
“If they don’t have this facility, they’d be out on the street,” Washington said Monday. “God only knows what they’re doing out there.”
It cost $10.9 million to update Gibson Park, according to a City of Miami press release.
The park, at 401 N.W. 12 Street, is expected to open to reopen to plenty of fanfare Tuesday, complete with a fully equipped weight room and a baseball diamond.
“This was a project that was conceived a few years ago,” said South East Overtown and Park West Community Redevelopment Agency Director Clarence Woods. “The funding was put in place, and now you see the fruition of those promises made to redo Gibson Park.”
The hope is for Gibson Park to become a gathering place for the entire community, like when Emanuel Washington was a young boy. He remembers childhood days spent playing at the park, and how that changed his life.
“I’m probably one of the ones that probably should not have made it,” Washington said. “Born and raised here in Overtown. I got a chance to grow up in the parks. It wasn’t as beautiful as this, but it kept me busy, kept me active.”
Washington grew up to attend Miami Dade College and the University of Miami before becoming a firefighter.
He has since retired, and now runs the youth sports program in Overtown. He said the bleachers surrounding the field can seat up to 1,500 people, but the park can accommodate up to 10,000 people on Saturdays when kids are playing several football games throughout the day.
Terry Davis said he plans to take his young son to the park for games.
“It’s very important because nowadays with so much violence, it’s good to have a park where they can go and look out for themselves,” Davis said.
An area once a haven for crime, now beams with signs of fresh optimism.
A row of new businesses line 3rd Avenue.
Musa Deiq Muhammad opened “House of Wings” on 3rd Ave. and 11th Street back in February.
He told CBS 4 News he noticed the changes in the community since then.
“Just the infrastructure, police presence, greenway,” Muhammad said. “These are things that make it inviting for the community.”
That invitation is open to everyone at Gibson Park.
“When they have a facility like this, they can come and now their life can mean something,” Washington said.
There are plans to add a $2.7 million dollar gymnasium to the site in the near future.
The official ribbon cutting ceremony happens Tuesday at 11 am at 401NW 12 Street.
After that, there’s a big celebration from 1pm to 6pm.
It’s open to the public.