Miami-Dade County

Armed with picnic supplies, activists dedicate Miami’s Parcel B as ‘Dan Paul Park’

A Yoga class led by Sumer Thomas of Miami, far left at back, was one of the activities open to people attending a dedication of a parcel of land behind AmericanAirlines Arena as Dan Paul Park, on Saturday, June 13, 2015. Presented by Emerge Miami, the Urban Environment League and the New Tropic, the event was open to the public. Activists say that Miami-Dade County and the Miami Heat have not fulfilled a promise to turn the three-acre waterfront lot into a public park. The dedication of the land as Dan Paul Park honors Paul, a Miami attorney, civic activist and longtime parks advocate who died in 2010.
A Yoga class led by Sumer Thomas of Miami, far left at back, was one of the activities open to people attending a dedication of a parcel of land behind AmericanAirlines Arena as Dan Paul Park, on Saturday, June 13, 2015. Presented by Emerge Miami, the Urban Environment League and the New Tropic, the event was open to the public. Activists say that Miami-Dade County and the Miami Heat have not fulfilled a promise to turn the three-acre waterfront lot into a public park. The dedication of the land as Dan Paul Park honors Paul, a Miami attorney, civic activist and longtime parks advocate who died in 2010. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

A group of activists tired of waiting for the county and the Miami Heat to create a long-promised public park behind AmericanAirlines Arena took matters into its own hands Saturday morning.

A little after 11 a.m., about 100 cyclists rode into Parcel B, a three-acre paved lot wedged between the arena and Biscayne Bay, equipped with sidewalk chalk, a rainbow parachute, bottles of bubbles and sports balls. Calling it “Dan Paul Park” — named for the late environmental and First Amendment litigator — attendees played four square, juggled and did yoga. The event was organized by Emerge Miami, The New Tropic and the Urban Environment League and saw about 130 people at its height.

Parcel B, typically used for below-market-rate valet parking, finally looked like a park.

“We invited everybody to have a picnic here and bring their picnic games to try to make the best out of a slab of asphalt that shouldn’t be here in the first place,” said Adam Schachner, an organizer with community-building organization Emerge Miami.

When the arena was approved in 1996, it came with a referendum that promised a waterfront park behind the arena. Instead, the paved area remains bordered by fences with “No Trespassing” signs.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier Suarez said Parcel B needs to move closer to becoming a park and to being conjoined with the other parks on the bay walk.

“They’re doable; they’re financeable,” Suarez said. “Don’t let folks in the county say we don’t have the money. We have lots of money. We just don’t use it right.”

The park’s namesake, who died in 2010, was a strong voice in the fight against overbearing waterfront development.

“It’s a travesty,” said Francesca Violich, who has lived in Miami for 30 years. “We have so little bayfront public land and this, once again, is just being wasted on valet parking to pay homage to the basketball gods.”

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The Miami Heat uses county waterfront known as Parcel B for valet parking, and for trucks and other logistical needs for events at the AmericanAirlines Arena (which sits on Parcel A). Miami-Dade, which owns Parcel B, wants the Heat to pay more rent. MARCO RUIZ / MIAMI HERALD STAFF

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