Miami Beach

Committee postpones discussion on beachfront accessible wellness center

Three sea turtle sculptures like this one are inside the section of Allison Park where the Sabrina Cohen Foundation wants to build a wellness center. Cohen said the turtles would be relocated in plans move forward.
Three sea turtle sculptures like this one are inside the section of Allison Park where the Sabrina Cohen Foundation wants to build a wellness center. Cohen said the turtles would be relocated in plans move forward. Miami Herald Staff

Despite efforts to mediate between opposing sides and move forward, a Miami Beach committee passed a motion Friday to table further discussion on a proposed beachfront accessible wellness center until February.

The Miami Beach Commission’s Neighborhoods and Community Affairs Committee heard more than a dozen people discuss the pros and cons of the Sabrina Cohen Foundation project to build an accessible wellness center in Allison Park, 6500 Collins Ave. Its conclusion: The main point of contention remained — location, location, location.

“It’s not a matter of if,” said committee chairman Michael Grieco. “It’s a matter of where and when.”

Opponents, easily identifiable by the heather green “Save Allison Park” T-shirts they’ve taken to wearing to City Hall, want the city commission to take Allison Park off the table and find an alternative area for the project, preferably one that is already developed and would not encroach on green space.

“I don’t think this type of place should go into a small community park,” said Tom Richerson, a Miami Beach resident. “Because once that green space goes away, it’s not coming back.”

Proponents of the wellness center insist that Allison Park is the best option for the endeavor. The The Foundation wants to build a three-story building with a footprint of 5,100 square feet that would house workout and rehabilitative facilities for those with disabilities. The project would be built on a 3-acre plot of public land, which critics say is one of the few remaining green spaces in the city.

Commissioner Joy Malakoff, who sponsored the item, enumerated Allison Park’s proximity to the sand dunes as a main draw for the location.

“Logistically speaking … the access has to be nearby,” Miami Beach resident Mario Corsilio said. “This is a not-in-your-backyard problem.”

Commissioner Micky Steinberg, who supported Grieco’s motion to table the discussion until February, said the commission would work to identify viable alternatives to Allison Park.

Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez motioned to eliminate Allison Park as an option altogether, although that didn’t pass.

Commissioner John Elizabeth Aleman called the location-vetting process thus far “flawed” and suggested more synchronicity between residents and city staff members, who she said could assess residents’ needs and come up with alternative locations.

Debora Lima is on Twitter @dtdlima

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