Key Biscayne council members have postponed a decision on whether to make permanent the temporary dog park at 530 Crandon Blvd,
Mayor Franklin Caplan joined council members Theodore Holloway, Mayra Pena-Lindsay and James Taintor in voting 4-3 to postpone the decision.
Residents are divided on how the land should be used. Those opposed to making the dog park permanent, especially seniors, would like to see the “prime piece of real estate” turned in to a cultural center or a senior center.
The half-acre site is estimated to be valued at $3.5 million.
A resident in favor of the dog park asked council members, “Are there any non-prime pieces of land on this island?”
“We have many needs that we've identified and we have few properties and facilities that can fulfill those needs,” Caplan said. “We haven't yet begun to assess specifically what the needs are and how to house them and where to do so. Before we do that, I don't think it's right to make a decision that would result in permanent expenditures and substantial dollars.”
Peña Lindsay said she has received hundreds of emails about the park, and come to the conclusion that “people are happy with the concept of a dog park, but many of them have an issue being at 530 and would like further evaluations. So I certainly understand why there's a big crowd right now and I think they deserve to be heard.”
The decision was postponed until April 22 . Talks of having the park be mixed-use and not strictly for dogs will also be discussed.
Conchita Suarez, who lives in the 200 Block of Crandon Boulevard, likes to take her 11-year-old dog Princess to the park. “As a senior I would like to see 530 Crandon continue to stay green for people like me and for their dogs.”
Ed Stone, president of the ASK Club (Active Seniors on the Key) reminded council members that out of the Key's population of 12,762 that 2,221 are over 65.
“I'm asking you to remember that the cultural senior center is what's important. You've got to get it up on the top burner. We need a place.”
He added that a few weeks ago, there were 136 seniors participating in four different programs in a 900-square-foot room in the Key Biscayne Community Center; the center hosts exercise classes, like yoga and Tai Chi for older community members, as well as Bingo, lectures and other social activities, but the center isn't exclusively for seniors. It's open to all residents of Key Biscayne, including children.