Letters to the Editor

Seeking dramatic change for Liberty Square

On behalf of the Collective Empowerment Group of South Florida (CEG), we add our voices to those of the residents of Liberty City and Liberty Square who expressed some of their views and wishes in the March 11 article Project tenants make steep demands.

The CEG is an association of churches represented by their pastors and liaisons that has taken an active role within a large private-nonprofit joint venture, Miami Waymark 2.0 Joint Venture (MW2.0), which is seeking to be awarded the transformative redevelopment of Liberty Square and the surrounding Liberty City areas.

The private-developer side of the joint venture will be tasked with design, construction and financial matters. The CEG will be responsible for the planning, coordination and supervision of the delivery of a comprehensive basket of social and supporting services.

Our aim is to balance both human and economic development, seeking dramatic improvement in results aimed at people and places.

We firmly believe that what we seek is closely aligned with the wishes of the residents of Liberty Square, as confirmed by years of experience in listening to their aspirations, as many of those residents are members of our congregations.

We are convinced that just delivering new buildings alone will not help bring about the transformative change we all seek. A comprehensive mix of many other human-support services must be added.

And, most important, the voices of the residents must be heard, so that they are allowed to take an active participatory role in the planning, execution and ongoing governance of this community’s transformation.

Through the building of greater trust we seek to help them gain confidence in a system that has failed them for far too long and that has resulted in their continuing and unjustifiable abandonment and neglect.

Although we hope that the qualifications and experience of our MW2.0 team will merit the award of this project, we would encourage all other bidders to commit to this ambitious and complex undertaking, holding firm to the same principles outlined above.

Furthermore, the CEG has been engaged for a long time in building a “Big Tent,” inviting all sectors of our community, faith congregations, business and professional sectors, and nonprofit organizations, as well as white, black, Hispanic, and Haitian populations to join forces to transform neglected communities, such as Liberty Square.

If we are successful in reclaiming and transforming Liberty City, we believe the entire Miami community will benefit.

The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis, board chairman and CEO, CEG, Miami