Public Park As Political Feud

The paving of Amelia Earhart Park is all about a political vendetta

Two days later Cutie approved a permit for the Hialeah chamber's use of the park for the festival. In the permit the chamber agreed to rent the park for ten days at a cost of $2000 per day.

Parks officials claimed they could complete the project for $400,000, yet requested a one-million-dollar budget. Sure enough, the county manager's office learned on January 4 that the price had risen to one million dollars.

"The county pays one million dollars and then [the Hialeah Chamber of Commerce] pays $2000 a day," Martinez comments dryly. "That's a hell of a deal."

Martinez is worried the ball fields, amphitheater, and community center will never be built. And he is concerned that, ultimately, the one million dollars will be a subsidy for the Hialeah chamber. Moreover the city and its residents have been left in the dark about festival details such as who will direct traffic, he contends. "I would like to know if this is part of the whole renovation of the park or is it just one single thing -- a parking lot?" he questions.

Unzueta says the parks department is still trying to secure Safe Neighborhood funds to continue work on the special-events area. She dismisses Martinez's concern that the neighbors are in for a surprise when the festival opens. "Every time we rent Amelia Earhart, we don't go out and advise the neighbors," she says. The December 9 town meeting gave residents ample opportunity to participate, she insists.

Some in the parks department believe that Amelia Earhart is not the best place for a festival. "A lot of people were discontented about the decision," says one parks official, who declined to be named.

Problems associated with the festival won't be city hall's concern, adds Martinez. "With the exception of [the county manager], who is a friend of mine, if people call to complain, I'm going to give them the home numbers of the country executives," he warns. "[The public can] call them."

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