For 24 years, Marion Schano and her husband Edward have owned an aviation business called Amtec Aviation Aerospace in Brownsville, a 'hood west of Liberty City with a population of 14,000 and shrinking. It's one of Miami's poorest neighborhoods, and arguably its most blighted. It's traversed by roving bands of vagrants who tend to smoke crack behind her warehouse, says Marion.
The Schanos -- well, they've seen some shit.
"So far, I've had three people die behind our business," Marion, an Austria native, says matter-of-factly. "Missy, a prostitute in the area for ten years, is having her leg amputated. 'Pinky' was living in a tent city behind my building. I think he already killed one or two people -- that's what the others say -- so I hope the police get him off the streets soon."
We advised Schano to tell the cops about "Pinky" -- we changed his nickname in this article -- and we'll be following up with our own inquiry.
As far as we can tell, Marion Schano is not delusional or insane, although we're not sure how you can run a business on that block without sinking into a little bit of madness. She says fires -- caused by careless crackheads, she guesses -- periodically devour the buildings surrounding 3150 NW 40th St. And she says her block has essentially been forgotten by municipal services: The Schanos arrange and pay for their own trash pickup and have spent thousands to repair a sewer and pave the road outside their business. They've yet to be reimbursed, and Marion says she's looking into filing suit against the Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer Department.
Only ongoing construction of Brownsville Transit Village, a $100 million Metrorail project at 5200 NW 27th Ave., has finally gotten cops to police the area and address a homeless problem, Schano says. "At first, they had six bicycle cops patrolling, but I think it was too dangerous for them," she adds. A Miami-Dade Police spokesperson didn't respond to confirm an arrest initiative in Brownsville.
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On the day we visited the Schanos' neighborhood, we didn't encounter a tent city or one-legged streetwalker. We did, however, see plenty of blight and municipal neglect, including a trailer park favela where the rugged streets appeared not to have been paved in decades. We asked one resident, who gave his name as Roger, how often he saw county workers on his block. "Think they'd come out here?" he guffawed, taking a break from fixing a bike tire in front of his trashed, peach trailer. "They're too scared to be out here! Ain't you?"
The inevitable buck-passing commenced when we tried to get a county commissioner for Brownsville to take responsibility. Audrey Edmonson's publicist looked up the address of the Schanos' business and happily reported back that it is right across district lines in newly elected Jean Monestime's territory. Monestime's own spokesperson never got back to us.