Miami-Dade County

Cuban community asked to show support at Miami-Dade Commission meeting for exile museum

Miami-Dade will decide Tuesday whether to begin negotiations to build the Cuban Exile History Museum in a lot near AmericanAirlines Arena.

On a Monday radio show, Nick Gutierrez, secretary of the museum’s board of directors, said a Miami-Dade County Commission vote was going to be “hard-fought” and asked members of the Cuban community to show their support for the project.

Gutierrez also asked community members to call their commissioners or attend Tuesday’s commission meeting wearing white guayaberas.

However, County Commissioner Esteban L. Bovo Jr. of District 13 — one of three commissioners who presented the resolution — told el Nuevo Herald that he felt “optimistic” because he believes the resolution will be well received in the meeting.

Parcel B, where the museum would be built, is the only lot not yet developed in the zone and is on the south end of Museum Park.

“This land has not been used in years, the Miami Heat uses it to park trucks. The proposal is just, includes green areas and the desire to cooperate with the Heat is also there,” Bovo said. “The Cuban-American community has a history that deserves to be told.”

The museum’s board of directors said they recently met with politicians and community members and sought their support, among them Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, who has said he is in favor of the plan.

Roberto Fabricio, a member of the museum’s organization committee, mentioned a meeting with the members of the Downtown Neighborhood Alliance, which previously opposed the construction of a football stadium in the area.

However, they said “they didn’t see any issue with the proposal,” which includes a park and doesn’t block water access.

These efforts could be fundamental to overcome the problems met by museum promoters among neighbors and commissioners concerning the history of Cuban exiles.

Some of which would rather use the space exclusively as a “green zone.”

In June, Miami city commissioners approved a resolution that calls for County Mayor Carlos Gimenez to start negotiations for the 2.7-acre lot to become a park.

The proposal doesn’t exclude the future construction of the museum in that lot, a possibility backed by Commissioners Francis Suarez and Frank Carollo.

City Commissioner Mark Sarnoff, who initially opposed the idea, said the area had enough space for both.

But it’s the county that has the last word because it holds property rights to the lot, which has been abandoned for 12 years.

“The Miami Heat and the arena are using the space almost for free, as a parking lot, for $500 a day during basketball season or concerts,” Commissioner Juan Zapata said. “The Heat should have developed the space from the start. Later the rights were passed on to the county, which is renting it annually for $40,000 or $50,000. But the maintenance of the property has already cost $6.5 million.”

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