New Miami City Commission Fails First Green Test

Miami's Planning Advisory Board member Paul Mann is calling out the city commission. This past December 17, commissioners Frank Carrollo, Marc Sarnoff and Francis Suarez signed off on a plan to convert vacant city-owned park land at NW 14th Ave and 61st Street into residential units.

The property is next door to African Square park located in Miami's Model City neighborhood. In granting preliminary approval, the city commission ignored the advisory board recommendation this past September 16 denying the city's planning department request to make the change. Instead, the board advised the city was better off expanding African Square park to create more green space in an otherwise blighted area of the city.

Mann voiced his disapproval to commissioners Frank Carrollo, Marc Sarnoff and Francis Suarez via e-mail:

As a current member of the Planning Advisory Board I was shocked that the

unanimous vote by the PAB regarding the disposition of African Square park was

disregarded completely.

I would like, and I suspect my fellow board members would also appreciate,

an explanation for your rejection of our recommendation to enlarge the


This is not a situation where the City would have to purchase the land, and

the planned development for that area would not suffer unduly if the park were

enlarged, given the size of the city-owned parcels.

It may be that there are previous commitments to a developer for the

projects planned at that location that the PAB board members were not privy to

that should have been made public, at least to us in the course of our


Or it may be that the Planning Department does not believe additional park

spaces are important in that area.

Or it may be that this new Commission also places very little importance on

additional parks in the City.

I believed this Commission would be more receptive to the needs of the

Residents than in the past, but I am apparently mistaken.

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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.