Miami City Commission Should Expand African Square Park

This past September 16, Miami's planning advisory board recommended the city expand African Square Park on NW 14th Avenue and 61st Street. The board recognized the need for more public green space in one of Miami's poorest neighborhoods, but the city commission apparently didn't get the hint.

Three months later, commissioners Mark Sarnoff, Frank Carollo, and Francis Suarez rejected the board's advice. Instead, they granted preliminary approval to the planning department's suggestion to change the zoning on city-owned land located next to the park. The city has plans to lease the parcel to an affordable housing developer that would build residential units.

This Thursday, commissioners will consider making the change permanent.

The vote presents an excellent opportunity for Commissioner Richard Dunn II to demand more green space for the children of district five, where the park is located, says Steve Hagan, chairman of the park and public space committee for grassroots organization, Miami Neighborhoods United.

In an email, Hagan claims Dunn, when he was running for the commission seat earlier this year, promised he would stand up for parks and vote against the zoning change. "Will he keep his word?" Hagan wrote.

Now that he is the commissioner, Dunn is barred under state law from stating how he will vote on the matter. But I think he should keep his campaign promise and get his colleagues to follow his lead.

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.