On Election Day, Miami-Dade voters will asked to decide ballot questions dealing with the use of public spaces and parks as dictated by Article 7 of the county’s charter. Currently, Article 7 says that parks “shall be protected from commercial development and exploitation.” The ballot questions would loosen that mandate.
The most high-profile parks question concerns Florida International University’s expansion onto the Youth Fair site, which the Editorial Board has already recommended be approved in an earlier editorial.
The remaining three park-use questions have been less high-profile, but, nonetheless, important. Overall, greenspace advocates have expressed opposition to the proposed charter changes. On the other hand, park officials have endorsed the moves aimed at providing flexibility that will benefit residents and enhance the use of public spaces.
Article 7 is not written in stone. In fact, it’s been bent and reshaped. It already exempts a long list of parks with facilities and some for-profit operations. They include the Youth Fair site, Vizcaya Museum, Miami Marine Stadium and the Seaquarium.
Two charter questions would add two more: Camp Matecumbe, where park officials want to add cabins and lodges; and a former landfill and vacant site off Northwest 58th Street now being pitched as a site for the privately run Miami-Dade Regional Soccer Park, which would house dormitories.
A third question would expand Article 7 to allow libraries in park facilities. The article would be rewritten to “add libraries constructed within recreational facilities to the list of those permissible facilities at parks.”
Here’s what the charter questions propose:
Allow libraries in parks
Although the difficulties within the county’s library system require more comprehensive revamping, this amendment would help the system ease the cost of opening new branches by allowing parks to also be used for library purposes. It would add libraries constructed within recreation facilities to the list of those permissible at parks. The Miami Herald recommends a YES vote.
Exempt soccer park
Unless exempted by Article 7 of the charter, parks can be used only for purposes of a public park.
The proposal would exempt the Regional Soccer Park and allow its use as a football field with dormitories run by a private entity. If Miami-Dade ever gets a David Beckham soccer stadium, this park could complement it. The Miami Herald recommends a YES vote.
Allow campgrounds,cabins, lodges inCamp Matecumbe
The proposed amendment would allow for the building of huts and camping sites within Camp Matecumbe, land where development now is restricted for fear of a possible negative impact on natural resources.
Back in the early 1960s, the grounds in southwest Miami-Dade, at 13841 SW 120th St., housed hundreds of teenage Cuban boys who arrived in Miami during Operation Pedro Pan.
In effect, passage of this amendment would broaden the use of this land appropriately and encourage more recreational use of the park. The Miami Herald recommends a YES vote.
FLORIDA THIRD DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL
The following judges are up for merit retention:
Judge Barbara Lagoa
Judge Thomas Logue
Judge Vance E. Salter