The readers’ forum

What do we get for Watson Island?


I find it difficult to be happy that the Watson Island project is back to an (abnormally) large retail attraction. The design going forward still violates the Carollo ordinance, which is to preserve our waterfront land and parks for water-related or dependent uses, but Miami voters approved this mega mall on the water. I hope I can afford to visit it.

Where is the conversation about what Miami residents get in return for leasing away the last of Watson Island and other public lands beside lease fees and taxes?

We have suggested that since Jorge Perez of the Related Group and most other developers love to show this land and all other government-owned land as green on their brochures, (suggesting parks) that perhaps developers and, indeed, our elected leaders might debate the idea of using the lease fees to create more public green space in Miami to replace that which is now dedicated to special use — attractions, museums and shopping.

So far, mayoral candidate Francis Suarez has said this is an interesting idea, but there’s been no response from Mayor Tomás Regalado. It should be more than interesting. It should be debated in the upcoming election.

Miami has spent more than $1 million developing a parks master plan calling for 30 new neighborhood parks. That is good, but then it spent over $4 million designing Bicentennial Park at a cost of $65 million without first setting a budget. Over the last few years, the city has added 50,000 new people, with fewer than two acres of new parks.

Our generation has sold the AmericanAirlines Arena property, leased a third of Bicentennial Park, is about to lease away Grove waterfront and tried to build a mega sport facility on Virginia Key.

So far, this generation of leaders has failed miserably in the park-legacy department. Previous leaders did far better giving us Bicentennial and Kennedy parks.

We have had enough expensive lip service about parks. We want more parks for Miami. Will we get them?

Steve Hagen, Miami

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