Better Lake Than Never?

Officials insist the Lake Belt created by limestone mining in Northwest Miami-Dade will be an eco-panacea. Critics say that's all wet.

"I don't think they did it intentionally to make anybody mad, but I think they are coming to the realization that they live in this community. You are part of the community, and you have to be receptive to [the] perception that they are pushing people around," he says.

Fortunately for homeowners, Gentile notes, both Villalobos and Diaz-Balart are running for election this year. Owing to term limits the two legislators are trying to exchange seats so they can remain in Tallahassee. In a rare victory and remarkable about-face, the two agreed to a bill passed this month repealing the affidavit requirement.

Gentile vows she's not finished. "I want to get the boundaries [of the Lake Belt] changed," she says.

Rock miners are digging up Northwest Miami-Dade County at the rate of 300 acres per year
Rock miners are digging up Northwest Miami-Dade County at the rate of 300 acres per year
Rock miners are digging up Northwest Miami-Dade County at the rate of 300 acres per year
Steve Satterwhite
Rock miners are digging up Northwest Miami-Dade County at the rate of 300 acres per year

Sierra Club chair Barbara Lange believes Gentile's success should be a lesson for her colleagues that the miners are not as powerful as they appear. "One woman took it upon herself to challenge the rock miners and managed to beat them," she says. "The environmentalists could learn something from her."

Officials from the Water Management District hope a final environmental impact statement on the Lake Belt plan will be released by the end of this month. The Army Corps of Engineers is expected by September to approve master permits allowing the miners to excavate rock throughout the area. The Lake Belt committee must okay a final and permanent Lake Belt plan by December 31, 2000. The legislature, county government, and the Water Management District would then presumably act on their recommendations.

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