South Miami

Letter: Consider the historic value of City Hall before rebuilding

This past August, the South Miami Historic Preservation Board, of which I was then chairperson, voted to recommend that a designation report be written for the South Miami City Hall building. Our recommendation was based upon the fact that City Hall, built in 1956 in the mid-century modern style (a period of great growth in all of Miami) and designed by a famous Coral Gables architect George Fink (George Merrick’s cousin), was worth consideration for preservation.

Mayor Philip Stoddard stated in his March 29 Soapbox letter that “South Miami needs a new City Hall” that “it’s worth a careful analysis to compare the costs and benefits of renovating our existing City Hall...versus consolidating land to get a new City Hall.” He also mentions that the city commission has asked the city manager to do further financial research “so we can make a better-informed decision about how the city should move forward.”

I suggest to the mayor and commissioners that they include the historic in their analysis of what is best for the city. How many of our historic buildings would we have lost in the past if the fact that they hadn’t been properly maintained was a justification to tear them down? Much of today’s South Beach historic district and, most recently, our wonderful downtown courthouse have been threatened with destruction due to the mold and mildew caused by years of poor roof maintenance. In some cases this was the responsibility of our cities.

My husband and I are longtime environmentalists. We are supportive of movement toward greater sustainability, lower carbon footprints, greener living and new urbanism infilling. In no way do I wish to take away from those aspects of what the mayor is proposing.

In his letter, the mayor says that “It’s no surprise then that informed citizens, city officials and member of the business community have concluded that we should do a careful analysis.

As an informed citizen, I am glad for this opportunity to interject another aspect to this dialogue. I believe that there is great value to us all in saving vestiges of our past.

Pam Lahiff, South Miami

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