The people of Miami-Dade County just celebrated another successful Youth Fair, with 612,000 guests of all ages, ethnicities, genders and religions enjoying South Florida’s largest charity event.
Unfortunately, FIU used the occasion to ramp up its war against the Fair. It padlocked county-owned gates, refused access to FIU roadways on two of the heaviest Youth Fair traffic dates, and barred evening and weekend parking for which the Youth Fair has paid FIU $1.3 million since 2004.
Recently, FIU’s president announced a new FIU building on county-owned land leased to The Youth Fair which FIU neither owns, nor leases nor has any legal right over.
It was another attempt to garner public support and coerce the county to force a move to South Dade, where a study co-funded by FIU specifically shows the Fair will die.
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FIU covets the Fairgrounds and acts as if the Youth Fair threatens the viability of the university. In fact, FIU’s unbridled zealotry for expansion and a financially and legally irresponsible eviction threaten the Fair.
The terms under which the county can terminate our lease include finding a suitable site and reimbursing the Fair for our investment. FIU refuses to do either.
The Youth Fair and the county are jointly examining three promising relocation sites: two proposed by Mayor Carlos Gimenez and a new layout of Tamiami Park that will provide 30 acres to FIU, room for the Youth Fair and 35 acres of restored park land. FIU has refused to consider these options.
Instead, FIU hopes the county will bow to pressure, ignore the law, disregard the financial implications and do its bidding.
We invite FIU to join the discussion and collaborate with us in a responsible process so that both community institutions can continue to serve and thrive.
Robert Hohenstein, president and CEO, Miami-Dade County Youth Fair & Exposition, Miami