After 13 years of stalling, bureaucratic ineptitude, and political gamesmanship, Liberty City's Hadley Park will finally get a $6.5 million community center.
This historic 28-acre spot at NW 50th Street and 14th Avenue is one of the most infamous in Miami history. Thirty-five black families were ejected from the area to make way for a school and park for white folks during segregation.
It has become a mecca for youth football -- a dozen past and present NFLers have played there -- and an Olympic-size pool was built in the park several years ago. But the new center will offer much more, including basketball courts, classrooms, and a fitness center.
See also: It's Time to Save Charles Hadley Park.
City leaders found money for the park 13 years ago, but nothing happened. According to New Times columnist and Liberty City Optimist Club president Luther Campbell, a series of black city commissioners either forgot about the project or had other priorities.
"Art Teele had other ideas, and Miller Dawkins wanted to build the swimming pool, which isn't used by folks in the neighborhood," Campbell says. "[Michelle] Spence Jones had legal problems, and Richard Dunn never got around to it. Now Keon Hardemon finally found the money."
The Liberty City Optimist Club is still looking for money to fund youth programs at the youth center, which will include offices for that group.
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A groundbreaking is scheduled for May 29. The public is invited.
"This has taken way too long," Campbell says.