Letters to the Editor

Letters from the issue of March 23, 2000

On the Block
In an act of audacious short-sightedness, Miami is offering its finest bayfront property to the highest bidder
By Jose Luis Jiménez

Miami: Civic Slut
New Times has done a great public service by publishing Jose Luis Jiménez's article "On the Block" (March 16), which accurately portrays the City of Miami's short-term approach to a long-term problem: a total lack of any long-range vision and coordinated master plan for the city's publicly owned waterfront lands.

I believe the sincerity of Mayor Joe Carollo and the city commissioners in wishing to hit a home run by keeping the Marlins in Miami, but an impulsive use of Bicentennial Park for a baseball stadium will permanently erase what should be Miami's most memorable visual impression -- downtown's spectacular waterfront.

It has been said that low-hanging fruit in public places gets plucked very quickly. This has been the sorry state of affairs in Miami for more than twenty years with regard to the city's most precious assets, including moneymakers like the seaport and the airport, once owned by Miami.

The time has come for Miami to stop acting like a cheap whore, offering her charms to the highest bidder, whose sole motive is profit. It's time to stop subsidizing billionaires and large corporations. (Jiménez's article estimated that Micky Arison's American Airlines Arena will cost taxpayers $355 million over the next 30 years, $11.8 million annually.)

We can invest in our city's future by striking a balance between sustainable development and the public's right of free access to what could be the most beautiful waterfront in America. Among alternative sites more suitable for a baseball stadium are the Orange Bowl and the Miami River.

We can bring back to life our city fathers' original dream of a beautiful downtown bayfront. Contact Miami's mayor and commissioners and encourage them to embrace a master plan with a vision for our waterfront lands, developed with vigorous public debate and input. A master plan will enhance and revitalize downtown Miami, Park West, Overtown, and the Omni area.

Join Greg Bush at the Urban Environment League's "Walk of Renewal" in Bicentennial Park this Saturday, March 25, at 11:00 a.m. For further information leave a message at 305-579-9133. E-mail: gregbush@aol.com.

Bob Flanders

Miami: The Filthy-Rich Developer's Best Friend
Jose Luis Jiménez certainly read my mind with his excellent article "On the Block." The city and county governments' misguided priorities speak loud and clear to the public: "You don't need parks or any waterfront access. As a result of phony budget cuts, we're not going to do any maintenance, then we'll close these areas because they've deteriorated into dangerous eyesores. Then it'll be easier to give them away to our connected pals."

Don't forget Alex Penelas's 1996 television campaign ad: A kid stands in a dusty lot while the voice-over asks why we need a new basketball arena on public land when so many children have no parks in which to play. Immediately after being elected county mayor, he decided we actually did need the arena and that taxpayers should help pay for it! It would have been interesting to record multibillionaire Micky Arison's meeting with him.

Building the tennis stadium in Crandon Park for the Lipton tournament is another example. Merrett Stierheim's position at the time -- executive director of the Women's International Tennis Association -- was probably just a coincidence.

The Cleaning Up Our Government show is really cute. Just please look the other way while we deal away Homestead Air Force Base, Bicentennial Park, Virginia Key, Dinner Key, Watson Island, and other priceless public assets.

Paul Heydemann

Miami: Strip Mall Heaven
I seriously question Jose Luis Jiménez's scenario that opens "On the Block," in which a tourist from Chicago arrives in Miami in 2015 and gets his first glimpse of Biscayne Bay only after checking into his hotel. Realistically no one is going to spend money to see the world's biggest waterfront strip mall. The Chicago tourist can see these chain stores at a mall closer to home.

If tourists don't come here now to experience the wonders of endless strip malls lining Bird Road, then our Chicago friend isn't going to come here at all in 2015.

Berny Shomstein

Miami: A Laugh a Minute
Week after week New Times turns to the City of Miami for story fodder because, to us thinking folks at least, what the city does seems so crazy. For example we all chuckled when we read Jacob Bernstein's "Take Me Out to the ... Parking Lot?" (January 27), which revealed that the city counted parking lots and cemeteries as public open space. An outraged Jim Mullin wrote "Just Say No to John Henry" (September 30) and noted the "seeming lack of opposition" to placing a baseball stadium in a bayfront park. And now we have "On the Block," which shows how Miami tries to balance its books by bartering its public waterfront land to developers. So, dear New Times readers, week after week you have been amused by the folly of the City of Miami. What I don't understand is this: Why aren't any of you inspired to do anything about it? When are you going to say, "I'm not going to take it anymore!"?

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