Two new community groups hope to give residents of downtown, Brickell, Midtown and other east-side neighborhoods a greater voice in Miami politics.
The two groups, the Biscayne Bay Neighbors Association and the Downtown Neighbors Alliance, are made up of condominium associations in coastal neighborhoods that in recent years have been swelling with new high-rises and affluent residents.
“We want to engage with the community and encourage those people that live and work in the area to take an active part in shaping the future of their neighborhood,” said Thomas Bailey, president of the Biscayne Bay Neighbors Association. “We’re a way for people to get involved in our community, have their voice heard and try to make a positive impact on their neighborhood.”
Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff participated as a guest speaker Sept. 18 in an open forum with the two groups at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson campus.
The Biscayne Bay group contacted Sarnoff, whose district includes downtown, and hosted the panel to provide a platform for its members to hear the commissioner’s views on what is in store for their neighborhoods and to ask questions.
More than 100 people attended the event. Topics ranged from the Ultra Music Festival to the planned SkyRise Miami observation tower, and the soccer stadium that David Beckham wants to build in the area.
One of the sites Beckham considered was a city-owned site next to the AmericanAirlines Arena in the new Museum Park.
“Mr. Beckham has taken his ball and has gone somewhere else,” said Carlos F. Martin, an attorney with Becker and Poliakoff. “He brought attention to that parcel, and I’m wondering if there are plans to do something with it, to make it part of the Museum Park or to do something else with that dock area?”
Sarnoff said Museum Park should be a soothing area where residents can sit and relax near the water. It’s not a place for a soccer stadium, he said.
As the event came to end, both associations agreed on the importance of keeping residents informed.
“There is strength in numbers,” said Dalia Lagoa, president of the Downtown Neighbors Alliance. “We are a big voting bloc, and we have to exercise our muscles. I think we can make a big difference in the city of Miami.”