Riptide has a question for all the crazy Coconut Grovites. In the past year, what spectacular little spit of land has been used as a dumping ground for a large dead goat, the home of a five-foot-long saltwater crocodile, and a bum fort turned junkyard?
In the 1970s, the coastline forest didn't exist. Miami Herald Neighbors columnist Glenn Terry tells Riptide: "When I arrived, the shores of Peacock Park looked like the shores of Maui." The once-tiny trees were planted in the early 1980s during an environmental improvement project, using city money. Nearly 20 years later, a wealthy developer and vitamin peddler pushed to have them removed but failed.
Carlos Iglesia thinks he has a solution. The blunt 44-year-old who lives in the North Grove recently unleashed his hatred for the protected species on CoconutGroveGrapevine.com. They block the view of the water and attract all sorts of riffraff. "If I could, I'd go in there with a hatchet and chop them down myself," he proclaims. "They grow like weeds. It's just pathetic."
His tirade elicited a series of heated, all-caps comments on the website, such as "They are ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT." Indeed, the trees do great things for the ecosystem, says Coconut Grove Village Council member Liliana Dones. "They protect the whole balance of life underwater."
Last week — at Iglesia's request — city officials and county environmentalists met at the park to check out the situation. The county's Department of Environmental Resources Management spokesperson, Luis Espinosa, insists the mangroves "act as a barrier for the coastline during storms and initiate a food chain for marine life."
Removing the trees is a long shot, says councilwoman Dones. They are protected under federal law. The more probable option: Trim the suckers back to "create windows." Hacking them down, she says, is asking for trouble.