The readers’ forum

Pinewood Acres doesn’t need Somerset Academy Bay

 

Fernando Zulueta, president of Academica, wrote a glowing endorsement of his vision of education and how they are being misunderstood in the April 28 letter Academica serves some of the finest charter schools.

Regrettably, he leaves out the small points. His company routinely goes into residential neighborhoods, builds out-of-scale schools after submitting a “traffic study” that says there will be no effect on the neighborhood traffic patterns.

In virtually every neighborhood, the “traffic study” has somehow proven to be completely wrong once the school is built and cannot be undone.

Their newest venture is called Somerset Academy Bay at Pinewood Acres, located on a two-lane road that is already gridlocked during morning and afternoon rush hours and has been rated a “D” by Miami-Dade County for many years, meaning the roadway is maxed out for traffic as it exists now.

The existing school has been there for 60 years, has a permit for 290 students, and has coexisted extremely well with the surrounding neighborhood. It is nestled in an area of half-acre and acre homes that make up a highly sought-after established family-friendly neighborhood.

Into this bucolic, calm, peaceful area, Zulueta plans to drop a Walmart-type building to house 1,850 students, plus teachers and staff. His traffic study says that it will have no effect on the neighborhood to add an extra 4,000 cars a day with morning and afternoon drop-offs/pick ups, plus staff, to a road already rated “D.” You don’t have to be a traffic engineer to know that is a crazy contention.

With help from legislators like Miami-Dade Reps. Manny Diaz, Jr. and Erik Fresen, who both benefit financially from Academica, Zulueta’s deep-pocketed company, Somerset, has rolled over neighborhood after neighborhood in an empire-building quest to replace public schools with charter schools.

My neighborhood is not against him or the empire that he wants to build.

It is where he wants to build it is the problem. Build it where it fits, not where it destroys the quality of life built up over 60 years, simply because you have high-priced lawyers and local legislators and can use your political and financial muscle against neighborhoods that have little chance of stopping you.

Leave Pinewood Acres at 290 students, and take the other 1,560 students somewhere that can handle that kind of influx of traffic and congestion.

We hope that the County Commission rejects this attempt to destroy yet another peaceful neighborhood.

Dean Richardson, Miami

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