Build it and they will come, but just build it, seems to be the Miami Heat's new philosophy...even if it means jamming too much construction onto public property and breaking a sacred promise to voters to provide open space. The team has approached city commissioners twice recently with plans for bayfront construction. First, in April, Heat president Jay Cross faxed to Dinner Key a plan for a new downtown baseball stadium following the example of the American Airlines Arena. That is, the Marlins should pay for erecting the structure and the public should offer a subsidy. "It would only seem fair to encourage the Marlins to follow the AAA model ... and take on the risks with building their new home," reads the five-page document. The public, by the way, will shell out something like $250 million for AAA and related improvements. Even more outrageous -- because the Heat has trashed its pledge to provide a soccer field on the arena site -- is a proposal being bandied about by the team for an eight-story hotel. This new inn would house hundreds of cruise passengers next door to the Heat's home, two restaurants, and other development. Just build it, yessir!

One of Miami-Dade's longest-running disputes is nearing the end. After a passel of lawsuits back in the late Eighties and early Nineties (and intervention by America's top negotiator Roger Fisher), Bruce Matheson has won a multimillion facelift for the county's most popular recreation spot, Crandon Park. Negotiators have completed a phone-book-size master plan that includes tens of millions of dollars of work, including mountains of landscaping, a new bike trail, a clubhouse at the public golf course, removing hotly disputed ball fields, rebuilding lifeguard stations, and much more. When the scheme is filed in circuit court, presumably in the next few weeks, the clock begins ticking. Within a year the county must move the 83-year-old Calusa Playhouse, one of the area's oldest buildings. "The focus is to maintain Crandon," comments Frank Faragalli, a bureaucrat who has worked with the Mathesons, "to limit commercial development."

Miami's goon has sold his five-bedroom, six-and-a-half-bath house on Miami Beach. Chris Paciello, the former owner of Bar Room, was indicted last year for participating in the Mafia-connected murder of a New York housewife. Paciello bought the property at 3681 Flamingo Dr. last July 29 for one million dollars. David Lombardi, Paciello's agent and, apparently, a New Times reader, confirmed a deal is pending on the house. "Chris is a good friend of mine," he said. "And you have the nerve to call me after calling him 'Goon over Miami.' Good day." Then he hung up.

It was bound to happen. A federal criminal grand jury has convened to consider indictments related to the Bayfront Park scandal. The court recently subpoenaed all City of Miami records and audits pertaining to the park from 1995 to the present. The paperwork is due Thursday at the federal courthouse. Riptide's nomination for the most likely to be indicted: former parks director Ira Katz, who left in disgrace May 2.

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Chuck Strouse is the former editor in chief of Miami New Times. He has shared two Pulitzer Prizes and won dozens of other awards. He is an honors graduate of Brown University and has worked at newspapers including the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times.
Contact: Chuck Strouse