Magic Primeval, Part 2

On the eve of its permanent disfigurement, the Miami Circle unleashed its mysterious powers of survival

Having cleared its ledgers of this initial payment, the county now has twelve months to raise the remaining $6.7 million it owes the Trust for Public Land. The absence of a concrete plan for the circle continues to present a problem in attracting donors, though two possibilities do exist. The one that initially seemed strongest, however, now appears to be the least likely. The proposed partnership between the Kislak Foundation and FIU seems to be foundering, according to county officials. "It's a long shot," concedes Spring. Three steps would be required to consummate that relationship: First the two parties must come to an agreement on their respective responsibilities; then they must seek approval from the secretary of state's advisory council; and finally they must raise the money. "Step one may be a killer," Spring reports.

The other possible scenario for the circle's future involves Senator Graham's efforts to incorporate it into Biscayne National Park. On October 17 his bill passed the Senate. A companion House bill authorizing a feasibility study found a sponsor in Rep. Carrie Meek, but it has since stalled. Speculation among Department of Interior staffers lays the blame for that on Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who may be seeking payback for the park's refusal to budge on continued private ownership of the Stiltsville homes south of Key Biscayne. (Repeated calls to the the congresswoman's office for comment were not returned.)

Neither operational plan -- the National Park Service or a Kislak Foundation-FIU partnership -- would likely help the county pay back the money it owes. Spring and others seem to be placing much of their hope for that in recent appropriations by Congress to help states pay for historical preservation. Regardless, county officials are optimistic they'll find some way to raise $6.7 million before November 30 of next year. "With this issue nothing has ever been simple," says mayoral aide McKinney. "There are so many twists and turns. We have a year. I'm confident it will work itself out -- just painfully."

This is the second part of a two-part story. From 1995 to 1999 Jim Kelly was editor of Florida Antiquity, the Archaeological and Historical Conservancy newsletter.

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