Letters from the Issue of , 2002

Political battles, toppled trees, and downtown denizens

Belinda Davis

Miami

Hon, Will You Please Take Fido to the Museum?

And don't let him chew on the Picasso: Errol Portman, in his letter entitled "Museums Belong in Bicentennial Park" (October 7), devoted a good part of his energies to making the case for a new Miami Art Museum. But the question is not whether there should be a new Miami Art Museum; it is whether a museum should be built in the only park of any size in downtown Miami.

In deciding where to put a new museum, Miami has the advantage of being relatively young. As a result, a good part of the city is underdeveloped, particularly downtown. A staggering number of vacant lots, decrepit buildings, and unused warehouses can be found just one or two blocks off Biscayne Boulevard. Why not use some of that land for a new museum? The city recently auctioned off the Miami Arena to a real estate developer. Why not use that instead of Bicentennial Park? Why take a one-of-a-kind resource that, once built upon, can never be brought back?

If Miami is to become the "world-class city" Portman looks forward to, there must be a substantial amount of downtown development, including a considerable increase in the density of people. Downtown must be a place where people can live, work, dine, and entertain without getting in their cars -- a fundamental principle of the urban lifestyle. All these people are going to want a place not too far away where they can stroll, walk the dog, have a picnic, or throw the ball. Portman thinks a condo pool or a sliver of grass with a bench along the sidewalk should be enough. I disagree.

Chris MacLeod

Miami

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