Letters from the Issue of February 10-16, 2005

The Homestead Marlins, the Lincoln Road chaos, the Pitbull hype

The Homestead Marlins?

You may be laughing now, but... Regarding Forrest Norman's story about the Homestead Sports Complex ("Strike Three, You're Out," February 3), I have an idea: Why don't the Marlins take over the virtually abandoned ballpark? The 6500-seat stadium may be too small for a major-league team, but the Marlins could buy the 138-acre parcel and then build the stadium they want for less money than building it downtown.

The county could then extend Metrorail farther south, all the way to Homestead. This will give tourists a chance to see more of the area, and it'll get rid of the $18 million albatross that hangs around the necks of Homestead taxpayers. Then tax money could be used to pay for really important things -- better education, better pay for teachers and police, and improvements around the county.

Ralph Garcia

Miami

Lincoln Road: Great Gawking

My dog and I love the crowds: I am writing in response to Lee Klein's misleading and horribly one-sided article "Sidewalk Scofflaws" (January 27). Klein paints a lopsided portrait of a Lincoln Road where "strolling" is as "appealing as squeezing through a shopping mall the day before Christmas." The very fact that Lincoln Road is busy with tourists and locals alike illustrates that Klein is alone in his (mis)judgment.

As a local I enjoy taking my dog to the wonderful Lincoln Road cafés to gaze, stare, and openly gawk at precisely the crowds Klein abhors. There is no better people-watching spot in the city!

Klein also whines about the umbrellas, chairs, heaters, and other accouterments of the restaurant business. It makes me wonder what he really wants for Lincoln Road. Would he prefer abandoned buildings and urban blight to the current situation, in which the public seems eager to patronize these businesses?

These businesses about which Klein kvetches generate prosperity not only for their owners; they also provide good jobs for local employees. And let's not forget the resort-tax money generated by these restaurants, which benefits all residents in the city.

It seems a little odd to me that a reporter with such a respected newspaper would include not even one comment from anyone at any of the businesses singled out for criticism -- but then again, that would require Klein to stop bitching for a minute or two.

James Cohen

Miami Beach

Lincoln Road: Marvelous Multitudes

Throngs of people = tons of money: I was appalled to read Lee Klein's mean-spirited attack on Lincoln Road. Miami Beach has always been a party town, and part of its allure is that people want to be where the action is. The city began as a tourist destination, fell on hard times, and was reborn as a world-class city. What Klein calls "chaos" is what those who flock to Lincoln Road call "excitement." People love to be part of a crowd and will always choose a full restaurant over an empty one.

Was Klein sympathetic when landlords were losing money owing to high vacancy rates? Or after 9/11, when our hotels and restaurants were losing so much money they were forced to close or lay off workers? Why is it easier to place blame on landlords instead of condemning high taxes, license and permit fees, insurance premiums, and bank interest rates?

I urge our politicians not to cave in to the type of narrow thinking voiced by Mr. Klein, who in his zeal to use his journalistic talents to spew negativity ignores the fact that the "throngs of people" were having fun and spending money. If his reporting were fair and balanced, he would have interviewed those in the throng. Not only don't they mind the crowds, those very crowds are one of the reasons they come to Lincoln Road.

The boutiques permit dining tables in front of their stores because they realize the restaurants attract customers who (heaven forbid!) spend money in their shops. Wake up, Mr. Klein. A major reason for the success of Lincoln Road is the crowded sidewalk cafés.

This antibusiness attitude (which always seems to include a swipe at the landlords), coupled with the ill-conceived, burdensome new master parking meters, is exactly what will kill the goose that laid the golden egg. Then there will be no crowds on Lincoln Road to annoy Mr. Klein. Maybe he would prefer the squalor of the Seventies, when vagrants and drug addicts were in the majority, instead of visitors from all over the world.

Judith Berson-Levinson

Miami Beach

Lincoln Road: Dine or Die

Go ahead, kill the cafés and just see what happens: Having viewed New Times as somewhat of a counterculture newspaper, and therefore expecting you to be supporting the little guy (in this case the small-businessperson), I was quite surprised by the one-sided reporting in Lee Klein's "Sidewalk Scofflaws." Is Mr. Klein new to Miami Beach? Maybe he doesn't know that Lincoln Road was dead for decades, and that it did not come alive until restaurants began to open there in the early Nineties, and that it is only because of the popularity of these restaurants that retail stores have followed.

It is absurd to call these restaurants "sidewalk scofflaws" and claim they make it unpleasant to be on Lincoln Road because they create chaos with "a sprawl of tables, chairs, umbrellas, heat lamps, busing stations, and throngs of people." These restaurants, and the customers they bring to Lincoln Road, are not creating chaos; they are creating business and prosperity for Lincoln Road and for South Beach. And there can be no doubt that without these restaurants and their customers there would be little or no retail shopping on Lincoln Road. It would quickly return to the dead days of the Seventies and Eighties.

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