Miami Beach

Miami Beach commission defers vote on beachfront accessible wellness center

This rendering shows the proposed wellness center for the center of Allison Park. This shows the view looking north from the southern section of the park, where a ramp would be place to allow accessibility to wheelchairs.
This rendering shows the proposed wellness center for the center of Allison Park. This shows the view looking north from the southern section of the park, where a ramp would be place to allow accessibility to wheelchairs. The Sabrina Cohen Foundation

Amid much debate over a proposed public land lease that would clear a path for a beachfront accessible wellness center in Allison Park, the Miami Beach commission on Wednesday deferred voting and instead sent the issue to committee.

A commission committee will revisit the item Dec. 18 to bring opponents and proponents together in an attempt to find a compromise. Now, the question will likely not go to a public referendum in March. A majority of voters have to approve a city lease agreement with Sabrina Cohen Foundation, the nonprofit that is spearheading the project.

The commission’s Neighborhoods and Community Affairs Committee will meet at City Hall at 2 p.m. Dec. 18 to talk about the proposed facility.

Tom Richardson, who wore the green “Save Allison Park” T-shirt sported by dozens of residents who packed City Hall on Wednesday, said he was pleased the project will be given more time and discussion.

“I’m not bitter,” he said. “I hope the democratic process plays out. I just would like people to be informed about it. ... We just want to make sure that our voice is heard and that we’re trying to preserve the green space we have left.”

Several people in wheelchairs also attended to support the project. After the discussion, Sabrina Cohen said in an interview that she, her foundation and her supporters remain dedicated to seeing the center get built, but they’re happy to look for common ground with neighbors.

“We’re open for conversation. We never wanted to come into this project getting people upset and having enemies,” she said. “But we believe that this project will enhance this park, and it will provide a better quality of life for everyone.”

Commissioner Joy Malakoff, who sponsored the item, said she’s hopeful all parties work it out because the project is a benefit to the whole community.

She said no matter where the center is placed, it will have neighbors.

“There’s no ideal location because this is a completely built city,” she said. “Some of the residents near that location say, ‘Well why don’t you go to North Shore Open Space Park? Why don’t you go to the library space?’ And truthfully, every place that’s mentioned has neighbors.”

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech

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