| Columns |


Virginia Key: Keep It Open, Keep It Public
I was appalled when I read Jim Mullin's article "Saviors of Virginia Key" (April 1) and became aware of Miami's plans to lease the old county park for private development. I would like to get involved with the groups that are trying to stop the city from this extreme misdeed.

After living in several cities over the past ten years, I returned to my hometown, Miami, in February. Compared with all the cities I have been fortunate enough to live in (Austin, Texas; Windsor, England; San Diego, California; and New York City), Miami seems to lack natural recreation areas.

Growing up in Miami, I frequented Virginia Key for family picnics and camping with my Boy Scout troop. The old county park was usually closed, but during my trips there I was able to explore the park and all of its interesting areas.

If it were developed in an ecologically sensitive manner, this site would have great potential as a recreation area. The park is near the city, yet it is removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, making it an ideal getaway for all. Restoring its natural habitat and providing amenities such as hike and bike trails and campgrounds could renew interest in the park for recreational and educational purposes.

Its history [as the only beach available to black residents] is important and should be acknowledged, but its use by future generations is far more important. If we develop every open space in Miami, what will be left for recreation as the city continues to grow? Making it a private development will rob the citizens of Miami of their history and their right to communal spaces.

Humberto Ramos

Virginia Key: A Rainbow Coalition of Locals
As a member of the group that put together the proposal for a civil rights park on Virginia Key, I would like to correct two points in Jim Mullin's column. A group of more than a dozen people, which included blacks, Hispanics, and whites, representing the multicultural diversity of the region, worked jointly on the proposal, an idea that had been discussed for a number of years by several members of the group.

Also City of Miami officials, including some members of the Virginia Key Ad Hoc Citizens Committee, indicate that "outsiders" are responsible for the plan, when in fact most people in the group either live or work in Miami, or are officers or directors of groups representing thousands of people who do live in Miami.

Robert Weinreb

Virginia Key: There's Room for All
As a Cuban of Afro-Cuban descent who arrived in Miami at the age of six months in 1961, I spent my entire childhood and part of my adult life on Virginia Key. I learned to swim at the age of two at the old county park. As a young child I rode the miniature train and wooden carousel with my parents, picnicked and fished the entire island with my family into my early teens, learned to drive in the parking lot, and have sneaked onto various parts of the island and its beaches over the past ten years to fish.

Given the history, beauty, and size of the island, and the various activities it can accommodate (swimming, boating, fishing, windsurfing), the city and private interests should develop a multiuse plan to provide a model that could appease all competing interests.

For example the original county park could be reopened with its history in mind. The carousel and train could be restored and operated as privately run concessions. Limited private development could take place on the land between the park and inlet adjacent to Jimbo's (or a major beach resort), with public access to the beach and parking for windsurfing. A campground and marina could be located on the north end of the island facing Fisher Island. But do not touch the mangrove estuary on the north and northwestern face of the island.

Acelo I. Pedroso

Go Minnows!
I enjoyed "A Civic Curve Ball" by "Yadsloo F. Lirpa" (April 1), but there were too many errors. I attended those meetings with Marlins owner John Henry and others. Here is my report:

The new name for the Florida Marlins is to be Florida Minnows, reflecting their chances of success this year and in the years to come. Henry does want to save the Miami Circle but wishes to put a wishing well in the middle of it for those of us who still hope our road and transportation problems will be solved before the year 3000.

He also wants a retractable roof for the days when the fecal del toro comes over too heavily from the county commission chambers. Of course if equivocation and prevarication were fast food (from all our local political folks), we should have a golden arch over the entire baseball stadium.

The Minnows could be advertised by showing them swimming in and out of taxpayers' pockets and rushing past all the motorists stuck on I-95. They would provide us with a lesson in smoothness and agility as they headed to the baseball stadium, where you can park for only $50 per game as you enjoy $10 Cokes and $25 beers.

Ronald C. Rickey
Miami Beach

That's It, No More Conch for Ed
I am a recent visitor to South Florida, and while on vacation I picked up New Times. I was so alarmed by Kirk Nielsen's article "Conched Out" (March 25) that I felt the need to write this.

As I am not a Florida resident, I was unaware of the plight of the queen conch. When visiting local restaurants and indulging in conch fritters, I have been told in the past that the conch was imported. I was told that they no longer allow the harvesting of the delectable sea snails in Florida waters, but not to worry.

I was given the same song and dance from the local gift shop where I bought several shells. I feel misled. If I had known that the population in Florida Bay was so endangered, I would have never even considered the one meal I consume each year, or made my purchase. I'm sure that my questions and concerns about why domestic conch was no longer available were downplayed for fear of the loss of a sale.

A total ban on all conch harvesting may not be realistic in this economically driven society, but I will do my best to make sure I no longer contribute to their demise. Perhaps farm-raised conch for local restaurants may help. But imported or otherwise, I no longer feel comfortable eating Strombus gigas. We all need to be more diligent less these creatures vanish forever.

Ed Anthony-Prozialeck
Macedonia, Ohio

Famous All Over Town
Greetings and much props to Tristram Korten. I read his story "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Suspect" (March 25). I've been doing this underworld art for some time now, just seeking heights.

The Miami art scene has grown in the past few years. Many writers from the old school are still doing their thing, but not many. From the old skool to the new. I just be makin' my street fame.

Hope to see more articles. Maybe some photos.
Smilee Cano

Fatuous Fun wiht Flaming Felines
I want to express concern regarding the cartoon Red Meat by Max Cannon (March 25). Though an attempt at humor, the reference to "... setting a fire to someone's cat" was most tasteless and inconsiderate of any and all pet owners, such as myself, who fear that an idea may be implanted.

Am I concerned about the other things mentioned in that particular cartoon (verbal abuse, sexual harassment, drunkenness)? No. Free-will adults do these things. But cats and other helpless animals are, alas, at the mercy of these consenting adults. I pray that no such harm should ever come to any cat, dog, or other four-legged soul whose care we should foster.

With all the animal cruelty in this world, through misguided direction or intentions, and with all the sanctioned scientific use of animals in labs, the thought of such drastic harm coming to a cat, dog, or any animal is most distressing.

Mr. Cannon's cartoon may be sermon-free, but surely in this case it should not be guilt-free on his part. May no harm come to any cat, or any other living thing, through this thoughtless, careless, heartless attempt at humor.

On another note Kathy Glasgow's "The Last Temptation of George Petrie" (March 11) was superb. My heart bled for him as I have been there, so to speak, and empathize with him completely. I discovered through personal experience how sometimes both the spelling and definition of friend (in my case, too, a 30-year span) was more appropriately expressed without the r: fiend.

I hope George is okay. If he felt the need, could we start a support group for him? Or perhaps organize a pen-pal group, not so much to continue a maudlin theme but just to let him know he is not alone and that many people, most assuredly myself, experienced a similar situation. I am glad and grateful he survived and is alive. Super kudos, Kathy! Godspeed to both of you!

Marian P. Howell

The Roots of the Matter
I am writing in response to David Abel's article "Cuba's Second Revolution" (February 18). The Cuban state's infringement against its peasant farmers becomes all the more visible (and gross) when one realizes how inexorably linked agriculture is to basic human freedoms. History is replete with sacrifices made to nature gods and fertility goddesses (yes, even Christmas is linked to these). For the most part, these sacrifices have always been measured against what the respective god or goddess was expected to produce.

There is something about nature and growth that strikes close to home. It goes to the very heart of what we are. That is why revolutions, no matter how sophisticated the society, will always start with the campesino and end with the campesino. When the peasants are as free to benefit from their labor as the crops are to grow, incredible things begin to happen. The process begets surplus, and surplus begets division of labor. It is this division of labor that defines the progressive, or civilized, element in each society.

In short it all starts with the hunger-busting, animal-feeding, oxygen-producing plant, and with the caretaker's autonomy (or lack of autonomy) in the caring for that plant. Suffocate the caretaker and you suffocate the plant and the rest of society with it.

Manny Losada

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