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Letters June 2016 PDF Print E-mail
Written by BT Readers   
June 2016

bigstock_Mail_Button_1727945Cabin Fever: It’s Catching

Thank you very much, Biscayne Times, for Erik Bojnansky’s cover story on the cabins at Oleta River State Park (“Downtime,” May 2015). Now my significant other wants us to duplicate the experience of Erik and his girlfriend. Maybe next year.

All I can say is thank goodness for the passes that allow overnighters to enter and leave the park after hours. If leaving the park to eat at a nice restaurant is good enough for them, it’ll be good enough for us. And less garbage as temptation for the raccoons.

I’d also like to thank Erik for the shortcut to the entrance and skipping (sort of) the long line.

Really, it’s great to remind us of our local treasures.

Bethany Harrington
North Miami

 


MiMo Death Predictions? Dead Wrong

I was disappointed to read in MiMo Biscayne Association president Shane Graber’s column (“Big Plans, High Hopes,” May 2016) that there are plans to demolish the American Legion building for 150 apartments, but I was glad to read that Graber is “not thrilled to see the building disappear.”

Perhaps his next column can elaborate on a fact reported in the December 2003 Biscayne Times: “In 1934...the Florida House and Senate voted to deed the property to the American Legion Harvey Seeds Post #29 for one dollar, with a stipulation that if the American Legion, for any reason, ceased ownership, it would revert back to the State.”

How ethical is it to build a private apartment building on land that the State of Florida sold for the expressed purpose of an American Legion Post, for one dollar with a protective reverter clause?

Unfortunately, Graber also calls for the placing of commercial uses in current residential zoning. Protecting residential zoning from commercial intrusion is a basic premise of zoning law.

And Graber also repeats his desire to eliminate the 35-foot height limit in the MiMo Biscayne Boulevard Historic District.

May 20, 2016, was the sixth anniversary of the 35-foot height limit. It has brought great success, including the Vagabond, South Pacific, Stephens, Sir William, and New Yorker motels, Fifty Eggs, Ms. Cheezious, the 5555 Biscayne Blvd. office building, new MiMo-style retail buildings at 61st, 64th, and 75th streets, and the new Starbucks.

Lyle Chariff has just completed an excellent restoration of a small office (originally a single-family home) at 5801 Biscayne Blvd. And there’s more on the way. Fresh off their great success with the Miami River Inn, Avra Jain & Company are turning their attention to the Bayside Motel at 5101.

I have lived in Morningside since 1977. The 35-foot height limit is the best thing that has happened to Biscayne Boulevard. That law has protected the character and scale of the MiMo Historic District while also stimulating it economically and protecting the residential neighborhoods behind the Boulevard from overdevelopment. It has been a win-win for both residential and commercial interests.

Graber and the MiMo Biscayne Association, a small group, have been determined from the beginning to repeal that very helpful law. As their former president Nancy Liebman who testified before the Miami City Commission on October 22, 2009 put it: “You’re voting for the death knell on Biscayne Boulevard in the historic district by reducing it to a level which will never be developed, and that spillover will happen on all of the surrounding districts, I assure you.... The hardships that will follow are standing in the way of any real restoration in that district..... The MiMo District is not going to survive.”

Predictions of MiMo’s death were dead wrong. So now the MiMo Association is in the bizarre position of arguing against the MiMo district’s success in order to try to overturn the 35-foot height limit. Mr. Graber calls that height limit controversial. The only thing controversial about it is why the MiMo Association refuses to recognize that success and enjoy it.

Perhaps they don’t remember what existed in the MiMo District before the 35-foot height limit: speculation stagnation, when many landowners sat and waited for a developer with an edifice complex to come along with a big check.

Not only should the 35-foot height limit stay and be vigorously protected, it should be extended northward to the city limits at 87th Street, as was proposed by the Shorecrest community a few years ago.

Elvis Cruz
Morningside

 


Height Limit Saved the Boulevard

I have to take issue with several of the comments made by Shane Graber in his article “Big Plans, High Hopes.” Let me say that I have lived in Morningside for over 25 years and have seen the Boulevard through many changes.

Graber laments that some renters are being turned out to make way for 150 rental apartments in a mixed-use facility in a promenade along Legion Park. First, Miami is woefully short by comparison with other cities with regard to park amenities per population, ranking 40th out of 74 major cities compared (parkscore.tpl.org/rankings_advanced.php).

Miami ranks lower in parkland as a percentage of city area, park spending per resident, amount of dog parks, playgrounds, and senior centers, among other measures. This is a result of allowing density growth without the addition of corresponding parkland, as has happened in Midtown. Increasing density abutting Legion Park exacerbates a bad situation, regardless of any benefits of mixed use, retail shops, cafés, and restaurants that might be added.

With regard to Graber’s comments on removing the 35-foot height limit, I wonder where he has been living in the six years since the height limit was established for the MiMo Historic District on Biscayne Boulevard. The Boulevard as a thoroughfare was cut through single-family homes -- never contemplating high-rise structures to line it.

Predictions of the death of MiMo as a result of the 35-foot height limit have never come to pass. Instead there has been a flood of successful new and adaptive reuse structures up and down the Boulevard. I might only mention a few, such as the New Yorker Hotel, the Vagabond, Balans restaurant, Starbucks, Chase Bank, and several refurbished MiMo-style retail buildings.

As I write this, more are under construction or waiting for their new tenants to move in. Many restaurants have opened, only held back by limited parking.

Yes, at first the 35-foot height limit and the TDR [transfer of development rights] program may have been controversial, but time has proved them to be a godsend for development of the Boulevard.

There is no reason to back off from it now.

Alfred Sasiadek
Morningside

 


Don’t Mess With Perfection

Regarding the column “Big Plans, High Hopes” by Shane Graber in your May publication, why does Miami have to ruin everything beautiful and authentic!

As a native Miami girl and a resident of the neighborhood, I’m extremely upset about the possibility of Legion Village development and its beautification of Legion Park.

Legion Park is perfect just as it is. It’s diverse, its trees are magical, it’s a playground to so many beautiful children from all walks of life, it’s quiet, and we love it just the way it is.

We don’t want more development and the traffic and noise that come with it, and we certainly don’t want upgrades to our perfect park.

Lizzie Easton
Upper Eastside

 


There Should Be a Law

Legion Park is a peaceful oasis in a hub of commercial sites along Biscayne Boulevard. As a native of Miami and with 15 years living in this neighborhood, I’ve seen that the park has improved continuously, resulting in a well-utilized, safe, clean area for our diverse neighborhood.

It brims with activity but still maintains its tranquility, which we all need in this urban area. We need to protect it, not overdevelop it.

I’m appalled by the short-sighted urging of someone who is claiming that a commercial presence would help the community. What Shane Graber is suggesting would change the very essence of our beautiful, peaceful park. There must be laws that protect our park from people with ideas that could destroy our few remaining natural settings.

Lang Hudepohl
Bayside

 


Miami Circle: Dog Park

In her April “Going Green” column, “Our Bedrock,” Blanca Mesa has written a lyrical ode to a special place, the Miami Circle: a dog poop park.

Miami sucks.

Nancy Lee
Aventura

 


Correction

In James Teeple’s Community News story “Big Cleanup on Little River” (May 2016), owing to an editing error, NE 2nd Avenue was misidentified as NW 2nd Avenue. El Portal resident Hugh Gladwin had stated that the Everglades once stretched as far east as NE 2nd Avenue.

Also the author intended to refer to the firing of gunshots and revving of dirt bikes as “wild life,” not “wildlife.”

 

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