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On Saturday, residents get architects for a day to draw their vision of 17th Avenue

Residents and artists are teaming up for an outdoor drawing event in the center of Allapattah tomorrow, Saturday, July 30th at 8:30 a.m. They will meet at Juan Pablo Duarte Park, 2800 NW 17th Avenue, and then walk along Miami’s 17th Avenue from NW 36th Street and NW 14th Street. Allapattah residents will form groups, each one getting an architect who will turn their ideas into art. The architects will spend the morning drawing the residents’ visions of 17th Avenue with them.

Raul Pedroso, an Allapattah resident whose family has owned his home in Allapattah for decades, has been asking the City of Miami to make improvements to this transportation corridor for the past few years without any positive response. “Seventeenth Avenue is a County arterial road that the City and County maintain jointly and the lighting system has not been updated for at least 30 years,” says Pedroso. “The light poles are distantly spaced creating areas that are unsafe for doing business and walking after dark in what is a vibrant residential and business community. Our goal is that of creating a safer neighborhood for our families to facilitate vitality.”

Pedroso knew government officials would get on board if he had community support, so he started a “Light Up Allapattah” petition which has over 250 signatures. When radio station La Poderosa heard about the project, they invited him to their offices earlier this July. There he met Mayor Tomas Regalado, who signed the petition and invited him to meet with Commissioner Willy Gort. That meeting occurred last Wednesday, and Pedroso added Gort’s signature to his petition.

Earlier this year, while Pedroso was visiting neighbor Shawn Selleck, another resident active in the community, he met Brian Lemmerman, founder of Urban Visionaries, who saw the potential of the idea. Selleck and Lemmerman worked with Pedroso to help plan this Saturday’s event and get the word out to the community. They expect it to be one of the largest community gatherings Allapattah has seen in years. “The goal of the project is to show politicians the potential that Allapattah has,” says Lemmerman. “We build places where we can live, work, and play together in peace. When that doesn’t go according to plan, it is our responsibility as architects and illustrators to remedy the situation. We all have a right to live in healthy, sustainable places we love.”

One elderly Allapattah resident along NW 34th Street said, “I’ve been living here for over 40 years, and the neighborhood hasn’t changed one bit. It’s about time we brought some resources into this community.”

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