Miami Dade County Community Forum

Monday, February 28, 2011

UEL BUS TOUR: Visiting the Wynwood Walls

The last stop on our bus tour was to see the Wynwood Walls. These walls are located at 2520 NW 2nd Avenue in Miami, between two restaurants, Wynwood Kitchen and Bar and Joey's. Tomorrow we will post still photos of the walls. Also see our previous post on the bus tour.
Video Link

LED Billboards -Take Action Before March 2nd Meeting

There is a special City of Miami Commission meeting scheduled at 8 am Wednesday March 2 at Miami City Hall to consider another settlement agreement to place a billboard in the Roads area of Miami in Comm. Frank Carollo’s district (District 3). The residents oppose the billboard as it will have a negative impact on their neighborhood. And, of course, it adds to the visual pollution overtaking our beautiful city. There is now a website set up on the issue:

if you click on and then the “take action” tab, you can send a message to all the Commissioners and their staff as well as the Mayor and the City Manager in opposition to the billboard --- with one click.

The special meeting is not a public hearing so emails and phone calls (see website) are your best bet in influencing the Commissioners. Some of us are planning on attending the meeting and your presence will be noted, but you probably will not be able to address the Commission.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Do We Want Dozens of LED Lighted Billboards in the City of Miami's Downtown?

This is on Thursday's agenda:

Resolution (RE 8 on agenda) which allows 14 new LED billboards with exhibit lists of 11 new LED locations and 38 old billboards to be taken down or replaced with LED signs – unclear from exhibits exactly where 14 new ones will go within 38 old locations – apparently up to Clear Channel outdoor advertising company to choose. There is also RE 7 (allowing a billboard on the city of Miami police headquarters).

Resolutions will probably be heard between 10 am and noon, tomorrow in City of Miami City Commission Chambers. Some activists are trying to get it deferred.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Little River Park

From the Open Media Miami article on the Little River Park that FIND Commissioner Spencer Crowley detailed on our bus tour:

The city’s long delayed and much anticipated plan to purchase -- with grant and state funding -- a 1.2 acre parcel of waterfront land by the Little River near NE 79th Street moved one step closer to finally happening Thursday, but several steps still need to be taken before the convoluted saga of the proposed Manatee Bay Park comes to a close.

On Thursday, Commissioner Marc Sarnoff’s office authorized the use of $3,400 in “quality of life bond dollars” to pay for the appraisal of the property that the city plans to use to create the park.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Big Cypress Update. By Matthew Schwartz

This is a follow-up to our post of January 19th.

Dear Friends,

First of all, a very big thanks to all who wrote in to National Park Service (NPS) Director Jon Jarvis and asked for maximum protection for the 146,000 acre Big Cypress National Preserve Addition Lands. In spite of our efforts, the plan was signed on February 4, 2011 by NPS Regional Director David Vela and Big Cypress National Preserve Superintendent Pedro Ramos.

For those just tuning in to this story, the Addition Lands were added to the Big Cypress National Preserve through the Big Cypress National Preserve Addition Act of 1988. After decades of protection as “de facto” wilderness, NPS has decided that the interests of these lands will be best served by opening up 130 miles of off-road vehicle (ORV) trails (plus a still unknown number of secondary trails), three parking lots off Interstate 75 (with 47 trailer sized parking spaces each for loading and unloading ORVs), and a motorized campground. According to the NPS, public access by motor vehicle has never been previously allowed on these lands.

In addition to providing some of the best quality habitat which remains in south Florida for 31 animals and 96 plants listed as endangered, threatened or species of special concern, the Addition Lands form almost the entire western boundary of Broward County. They are easily accessed by a short drive on I-75 from nearly anywhere in south Florida and are in regular use (on foot!) by those who come to experience natural beauty and tranquility on a level unsurpassed in our crowded and, unfortunately, ecologically degraded region. An important section of the Florida Scenic Trail – a 1,400 mile walking trail which connects the Big Cypress National Preserve in south Florida to the Gulf Islands National Seashore in the western Florida panhandle – will be moved to accommodate a new off-road vehicle route through the preserve.

In their Environmental Impact Statement, the NPS predicts their plan will have negative impacts to the Addition's hydrology, wetlands, soils, and plants (including the likely spread of invasive and exotic plant species throughout the Addition). NPS also found likely impacts to endangered and threatened species including the Everglades snail kite, red-cockaded woodpecker, Eastern indigo snake, and the critically endangered Florida panther - all species in rapid decline elsewhere due to loss of habitat.

It should be noted that telemetry of radio collared panthers show the Addition Lands to clearly be the most important panther habitat in the preserve and one of the most important areas in the entire state. Impacts will also extend to the panther’s prey base of white-tailed deer, feral hogs, and wild turkey. Well aware that the area does not provide good habitat for deer due to wet conditions, NPS actually believes panthers and motorized hunters in the Addition could soon be competing for the same scarce prey once their plan is implemented.

In defending his choice of a heavily motorized plan for the Addition, Preserve Superintendent Pedro Ramos recently made the following statement:

“I like to tell people it’s not just different uses, it’s a different mandate from Congress, and it’s not up to us to change the mandate from Congress to manage this place differently than national parks”

Contrary to Superintendent Ramos’s assertion, the Off-Road Vehicle Management Plan written specifically to control and limit ORV use in the preserve has a slightly different take on this congressional mandate:

"The enabling legislation states that the preserve, as a unit of the national park system, is to be managed in a manner that will ensure its ‘natural and ecological integrity in perpetuity.’ The legislation further states the management of the area should be in accordance ‘with the provisions of the Act of August 25, 1916’ (NPS Organic Act). Thus, the natural and ecological integrity of the preserve is the fundamental value that Congress directed the National Park Service to protect."

Consistent with the above mandate, two other units of the preserve – Deep Lake in the west and the Loop Unit in the south – remain closed to motorized recreation for the purpose of resource protection. The majority of the original preserve – 582,000 acres – is already accessible by a large network of primary and secondary ORV trails. With the recent decision, the former balance between motorized and non-motorized areas inside the preserve shifts dramatically in favor what NPS itself calls a "high impact recreational activity".

If you have the ability, we are also soliciting donations for our legal fight. We have retained counsel and funds are urgently needed. Your donation will not only help us with legal expenses (including field work in the Addition documenting current conditions), but will also allow us to participate in other important battles over wildlife habitat in south Florida. Among others, fights over a new residential development in panther habitat west of the preserve (ironically named the “Town of Big Cypress”) and a plan to run three massive powerlines across the eastern border of Everglades National Park are looming. We are also planning a free outings program to bring families and individuals to some of south Florida's unique natural areas. We require funds for program expenses (e.g. insurance) as well as equipment.

Our donation page with a good overview of our concerns can be found here.

Matt Schwartz
Executive Director
South Florida Wildlands Association
P.O. Box 30211
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33303

Friday, February 18, 2011

UEL DINNER: A Conversation with Marty Margulies

About 60 people showed up to hear Martin Margulies speak at a dinner at the Rusty Pelican sponsored by the Urban Environment League. He told us, under questioning by Historian Gregory Bush, about his rise to success in the development arena. He also spoke of his philanthropy and his art collection and why he joined the recall effort of Mayor Alvarez. He said he believed in term limits for county commissioners and a decent salary to attract credible candidates.

Martin Margulies answers questions about his background, posed by Historian Gregory Bush who looks on.

A Frank Stella sculpture that Mr. Margulies donated to the Miami Beach Performing Arts Center.

The audience during the dinner at the Rusty Pelican.

THE UEL BUS TOUR: Rubell Family Collection Part 3

Mera Rubell talks about Jeanne Lanvin's/Rubell's Artistic Director Alber Elbaz installation at the collection located at 95 NW 29th Street in Miami's Upper East Side.

Link to video.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

UEL BUS TOUR: Rubell Family Collection Part 2

Mera Rubell tell the Bus Tourists about a work of art at the Collection by African Artist El Anatsui.

Link to video

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

UEL Board Member Enid Pinkney in the news today.

The Miami Herald reported that:

A long-lost black-only Miami cemetery discovered by construction workers was dedicated as a memorial park.

The dedication was the culmination of a two-year effort to preserve the burial ground, all signs of which had long ago been erased, and turn it into a park open to the public even though it sits within a private housing complex.

“We preserved our history. We restored our dignity,’’ said the Rev. Jesse E. Martin, pastor of Community Outreach Baptist Church. “We have kept our promise that those who lie here today will rest in peace.’’

Among those: John Clark, the grandfather of preservationist Enid Pinkney, who led the effort to save the cemetery but was unaware of her connection to it until researcher Larry Wiggins unearthed a list of people buried in it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Last Chance to Reserve for UEL Dinner!!!

Don't miss out on a great program and dinner! Hit on the invite to enlarge it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

UEL BUS TOUR: Rubell Family Collection

Mera Rubell speaks to the Urban Environment League members during their bus tour of the Upper East Side of Miami on February 4th 2011, telling them a little about herself and the facility and telling a little bit about how Art Basel came to Miami.

Link to video.

This was the introduction:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

UEL BUS TOUR: Spencer Crowley Talks about Property Purchase For Park On Little River

FIND Commissioner, Spencer Crowley joins the bus to tell a little bit about a property available for purchase with Florida Inland Navigation District funds and City of Miami matching funds, from Bayside Marketplace returns, to buy an acre and a 1/4 lot on the Little River. The property would be used as a mini-park for the Upper East Side. FINE money can only be used for projects on navigable water. People could view the manatees that go up Miami's Little River in winter months.

Link to video.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

UEL BUS TOUR: Architect Bernard Zyscovich at the Little Haiti Cultural Center

Link to video on You Tube. Our first stop on the tour was the Little Haiti Cultural Center in Miami. Architect Bernard Zyscovich came to give a talk on the design of the center. While there, tour members were treated to a dance class in progress (see post below).

Thursday we will feature some of the art seen at the center.

UEL BUS TOUR: Little Haiti Cultural Center - Dance Class in Session

Ray Chasser tells about his farm in Little Haiti.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The UEL Bus Tour Recap: Earth N' Us Farm in Little Haiti

For the next few days we will post photos and videos from our bus tour.

This was our second stop, the Earth N' Farm in Little Haiti.
Link to video.