As a retired Miami-Dade County administrator, my proudest and most fulfilling moments always came when I was able to serve the public. I have always identified with those who share the same calling and are ready to do the right thing by their constituencies.
However, I am alarmed by a recent trend by those who were elected to serve the public but choose instead to do their own bidding.
The city of Miami Beach is an over-built and over-populated barrier island. From what can still be observed of the city’s original design, there are open-space public parking lots with green park areas leading to the ocean every 20 blocks. These are the only oceanfront openings in an otherwise concrete wall of hotels and condominiums bordering the ocean.
On April 17, a meeting was held regarding a 10,000-square-foot building — the Sabrina Cohen Foundation’s Adaptive Fitness and Recreation Center — being considered for the 53rd Street Public Parking Lot. The neighbors of the surrounding area who attended that meeting were shocked by the financial push of this outlandish city project.
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The location for this privately-owned foundation would not only obliterate a fourth of the available parking spaces, but it also would bar the main beach pedestrian entrance. Beach residents need to ask: Is the commission going after our only remaining oceanfront open spaces?
This project would mark a reversal of the accepted urban design tenet of creating and maintaining open areas for all communities to enjoy. We also need to ask: Is it right to turn over public beach front to private interests to construct buildings that would squeeze out local visitors and public access to our beaches?
For the sake of Florida’s future, we need to stand firm and curtail this type of infringement into our public lands.