Miami is in dire need of park space. The City was ranked dead last in park and recreation spaces out of 27 medium density cities and we continue to cover our public spaces with buildings and parking lots. For decades, Miamians have cried out for a showcase park, a “Central Park” for Miami. Well, there’s an opportunity right under our noses. The Old Miami Arena site, currently a blighted five acre area of rocks, offers this possibility. The current owner is open to sell, and there are no other sites in Miami that could offer such radical urban transformation.
Imagine transforming the entire downtown area by turning this dilapidated parcel into a green, multi-use neighborhood space including community gardens, a nursery, a football field and a bandshell for outdoor performances and events. With the construction of Museum Park, the City will need to relocate important events such as the Cirque de Soleil, and music events. Moving them to the old arena site will activate a non-utilized area and create economic opportunities for Overtown residents. The purchase of this site could also house the “Grand Central Station” for downtown, a perfect location for the upcoming commuter rail and/or Tri-Rail downtown expansion. Utilizing this site for the public benefit offers the perfect combination of green, public facilities, urban transformation, and quality of life improvement for long suffering residents of the area.
So how do we pay for this? Aren’t the City and County undergoing a budget crisis? Enter the City of Miami Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). Flush with $50 Million in cash, the CRA is planning on issuing $100 million in revenue bonds in upcoming months, primarily to finance large scale development projects debatable benefits. Why not use a portion of these bonds to create Miami’s Central Park, which could have major benefits to everyone in the community?
Miami, its time to grow up. We have the potential to have a world class, pedestrian friendly city if we could efficiently spend public funds for the greater good. Let’s not miss one of the last opportunities for a “Central Park” in downtown Miami.
The Miami Herald reports today the Mayor Matti Bower has set an “Economic Summit” for December 18, 2008. We hope that Her Honor will include on her panel experts who will speak to the importance of The Beach implementing a mass transit system that serves the City’s residents and tourists, the mainstay backbone of our “Worlds’ Playground” economy.
From this Summit, the City should press the County to provide a fast, efficient, and attractive way to bring visitors from the air and seaports to the Beach that does not involve multiple bus transfers or a single passenger automobile. The Beach needs to demand transit respect. We shouldn’t be just the turn around point for a dozen bus routes that follow each other up and down the two most congested streets in the City. We need a rational, circulator system that facilitates mobility and is more cost effective per passenger mile. We should take a cue or two from Disney, and look at our 7 square miles as the tropical attraction it is, and exploit it to its highest potential by bringing 10 times as many folks in half the number of cars to the Beach each day for leisure or work. We should promote our historic seaside communities tranquil offerings by designing better uses of our limited right of ways to make them safer for pedestrians and non-motorized transport.
Panelists should all read “Growth or Gridlock? The Economic Case for Traffic Relief and Transit Improvement for Greater New York “, published by the Partnership for New York City and see how not addressing our growing parking and transportation crisis in our City today will undermine any hopes for an economically sustainable Miami Beach tomorrow.
On the bike ride to work this morning I stopped to snap a couple of photos. The first displays the Miami Arena on its way out. The second, the once beautiful and ‘coulda been saved if the political will was there, ala Coppertone Girl and Marine Stadium,’ East Coast Fisheries building on the Miami River.
As I bicycle around downtown it sometimes seems this city has had almost as many buildings knocked down as put up in recent years. Some had to go, but others… alas, another day, another demo.
The urban metrorail station in Miami’s Overtown district has been renamed the Historic Overtown/Lyric Theatre station. The recent sale of the Miami arena and the revival of the Overtown historic district prompted the name change. The station name change will be officially dedicated today (1/31) along with the inaugural bus service of the Overtown (211) circulator…
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