About 45 years ago, Dade County Mayor Chuck Hall had a grand idea. He wanted to build one of the world's largest and most advanced airports smack dab in the middle of what is now known as the Big Cypress National Preserve. Environmentalists balked, and the plan was abandoned after just one landing strip was built.
Last March, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez had a grand idea. He wanted to hold what he hoped would become one of the world's largest and most ambitious air shows smack dab in the middle of Big Cypress National Preserve on that same landing strip. Environmentalists balked, and now Gimenez has announced he'll look elsewhere to hold his air show.
Gimenez was inspired by the famed Paris Air Show — and naturally took a taxpayer-funded trip to check it out — and wanted to hold a similar biannual event at the strip, now known as the Dade-Collier Training and Transition Airport.
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Last month New Times chronicled the intense pushback from environmentalists worried about the impact such a potentially major event would have on the delicate ecosystem.
Gimenez has now told the Miami-Dade Aviation Department to look into holding the show at the Homestead Air Reserve Base instead.
"I think it's great to see that the mayor is putting the Everglades before the air show," Celeste De Palma, Everglades Policy Associate at Audubon Florida, tells New Times. "It was good to hear him say he understands now that it would be a lot more cumbersome and environmentally damaging than he initially thought. It was not going to be a good fit for the ecosystem with all the restoration work we've already done there. I know a lot of groups in environmental work got in touch with Gimenez's office to express their concerns."
Wilderness photographer Roger Hammer, who has spent much of his life in the Everglades, added, "The best thing they can do now is tear the airport completely out and be done with it so politicians in the future won't get any other stupid, or even stupider, ideas."