Virginia Key: Keep It Open, Keep It Public
I was appalled when I read Jim Mullin's article "Saviors of Virginia Key" (April 1) and became aware of Miami's plans to lease the old county park for private development. I would like to get involved with the groups that are trying to stop the city from this extreme misdeed.

After living in several cities over the past ten years, I returned to my hometown, Miami, in February. Compared with all the cities I have been fortunate enough to live in (Austin, Texas; Windsor, England; San Diego, California; and New York City), Miami seems to lack natural recreation areas.

Growing up in Miami, I frequented Virginia Key for family picnics and camping with my Boy Scout troop. The old county park was usually closed, but during my trips there I was able to explore the park and all of its interesting areas.

If it were developed in an ecologically sensitive manner, this site would have great potential as a recreation area. The park is near the city, yet it is removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, making it an ideal getaway for all. Restoring its natural habitat and providing amenities such as hike and bike trails and campgrounds could renew interest in the park for recreational and educational purposes.

Its history [as the only beach available to black residents] is important and should be acknowledged, but its use by future generations is far more important. If we develop every open space in Miami, what will be left for recreation as the city continues to grow? Making it a private development will rob the citizens of Miami of their history and their right to communal spaces.

Humberto Ramos

Virginia Key: A Rainbow Coalition of Locals
As a member of the group that put together the proposal for a civil rights park on Virginia Key, I would like to correct two points in Jim Mullin's column. A group of more than a dozen people, which included blacks, Hispanics, and whites, representing the multicultural diversity of the region, worked jointly on the proposal, an idea that had been discussed for a number of years by several members of the group.

Also City of Miami officials, including some members of the Virginia Key Ad Hoc Citizens Committee, indicate that "outsiders" are responsible for the plan, when in fact most people in the group either live or work in Miami, or are officers or directors of groups representing thousands of people who do live in Miami.

Robert Weinreb

Virginia Key: There's Room for All
As a Cuban of Afro-Cuban descent who arrived in Miami at the age of six months in 1961, I spent my entire childhood and part of my adult life on Virginia Key. I learned to swim at the age of two at the old county park. As a young child I rode the miniature train and wooden carousel with my parents, picnicked and fished the entire island with my family into my early teens, learned to drive in the parking lot, and have sneaked onto various parts of the island and its beaches over the past ten years to fish.

Given the history, beauty, and size of the island, and the various activities it can accommodate (swimming, boating, fishing, windsurfing), the city and private interests should develop a multiuse plan to provide a model that could appease all competing interests.

For example the original county park could be reopened with its history in mind. The carousel and train could be restored and operated as privately run concessions. Limited private development could take place on the land between the park and inlet adjacent to Jimbo's (or a major beach resort), with public access to the beach and parking for windsurfing. A campground and marina could be located on the north end of the island facing Fisher Island. But do not touch the mangrove estuary on the north and northwestern face of the island.

Acelo I. Pedroso

Go Minnows!
I enjoyed "A Civic Curve Ball" by "Yadsloo F. Lirpa" (April 1), but there were too many errors. I attended those meetings with Marlins owner John Henry and others. Here is my report:

The new name for the Florida Marlins is to be Florida Minnows, reflecting their chances of success this year and in the years to come. Henry does want to save the Miami Circle but wishes to put a wishing well in the middle of it for those of us who still hope our road and transportation problems will be solved before the year 3000.

He also wants a retractable roof for the days when the fecal del toro comes over too heavily from the county commission chambers. Of course if equivocation and prevarication were fast food (from all our local political folks), we should have a golden arch over the entire baseball stadium.

The Minnows could be advertised by showing them swimming in and out of taxpayers' pockets and rushing past all the motorists stuck on I-95. They would provide us with a lesson in smoothness and agility as they headed to the baseball stadium, where you can park for only $50 per game as you enjoy $10 Cokes and $25 beers.

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