The Biscayne Times

Aug 11th
Letters January 2016 PDF Print E-mail
Written by BT Readers   
January 2016

bigstock_Mail_Button_1727945Welcome to the Neighborhood -- Now Listen Up

This is in response to Anne Tschida’s article “Art Goes Uptown” (December 2015): While attending the University of Florida, I used to get extremely homesick, knowing that Miami has an emerging art scene and I was stuck in Gainesville.

What made it worse was that it was all happening within walking distance of my home in Little Haiti. During school breaks, I’d return home and marvel at the murals and what was left over from another Art Basel that I missed.

When I earned my BFA, I raced home, excited to submerge myself in an art world I was destined to be a part of. It started out with attending Artwalk on second Saturdays, then finally experiencing Art Basel. It felt great to be home.

Sadly, I began to feel like Dorothy when Toto pulled back the curtain. Wynwood wasn’t a place to experience modern and contemporary art, but a place to witness trend-seekers looking for the next hot party.

Galleries were filled with people who weren’t there to read an artist’s statement or even an artist’s name, but to take a few selfies then proceed to the food trucks and street performers.

No offense, but I stopped going.

Thank God I lived in Little Haiti, which was just enough distance to view the Miami art scene without having to deal with the crowds, the traffic, and the mockery of my passion.

I love Little Haiti. I’m born and raised here. But then I noticed another result of Miami’s growing art scene: gentrification.

My neighborhood became the new hot spot. Slowly but surely, members of my community began to disappear. Businesses began to close, replaced with bistros or shops no one who actually lives here can afford.

As I was walking to the post office one day, a woman eating outside at a restaurant clutched her purse!

The “border” of where Little Haiti began kept being pushed further and further up. “Open to the public” art collections are housed in unmarked buildings that no one would suspect are there.

My last straw was when my church was bulldozed for a parking lot -- for valet parking only.

I officially hated Miami’s art scene.

The art itself is wonderful, but Miami’s scene and Art Basel are spectacles for the rich by the rich. They’re not inclusive. I’m someone from the area, an actual artist, and yet I and my lower-middle-class neighbors feel shut out and pushed out.

When I saw the cover story “Art Goes Uptown,” I panicked. “No! Please don’t come to Little Haiti, Miami Art World. Stay in Wynwood! Go to Miami Beach! Coconut Grove! Anywhere but here!”

But then I actually read Anne Tschida’s article. Although I cringed at the fact that Gallery Diet used to be a Haitian Church, it’s comforting to see that Nina Johnson-Milewski acknowledges that Little Haiti is a “real working-class neighborhood” and she’s been trying to reach out. Another newcomer, David McCauley with Laundromat Art Space, says he’s planning community outreach events. Also it’s wonderful to know that Mindy Solomon’s gallery wants to be “respectful” of its new neighbors.

But it’s the discussion I had with the Little Haiti homeowners I’m closest to that really halted my tracks. My parents. They’re excited! They love the idea of the Art World moving uptown.

Maybe then we can actually get our streets repaved and working street lights. It’s not like Haitians don’t already have a rich art history -- why should we reject new creative possibilities? Plus, it might mean the value of our home goes up. Especially after so many family members tried to discourage them from purchasing in Little Haiti in the early 1990s -- back in its heyday, if you get my drift.

So this is me trusting you again, Miami art world. Little Haiti isn’t Wynwood. This isn’t a place of old industrial buildings and warehouses. There are real people living here, who love art just as much as you do.

So if you’re going to move here, don’t exclude us -- include us.

Midrene Lamy
Little Haiti


Miami Shores: Term Limit Truths

Your Miami Shores correspondent, Christopher Fernandez, continues to write extremely biased and self-serving articles regarding Shores governmental and council activities.

The first problem with his latest article (“Tweaking Term Limits,” December 2015) is that more than half of it was a discussion about Miami Beach and had nothing to do with Miami Shores.

The second problem is more grievous. His “disclosure” (“My father, Richard Fernandez has been chairman of the Planning and Zoning Board for more than a decade”) is a great example of his biased and manipulative reporting.

How is this for truth in journalism? His father, Richard Fernandez, has been on that committee for 27 years and has just been reappointed to another three years.

I can’t imagine a better example of why Miami Shores needs terms limits and restrictions for its board members.

I think Christopher Fernandez’s article on the our waterfront part at NE 96th Street was very informative (“Down by the Bay,” November 2015). He should stick to what he does best.

Elizabeth Cowen
Miami Shores


Miami Shores: Time to Move On

To say that the article by Christopher Fernandez regarding term limits before the Miami Shores Village Council is biased is an understatement.

Does Richard Fernandez need support? Is he so afraid of losing a position on the Planning and Zoning Board that he needs to have his son write an opinion about it in Biscayne Times?

Christopher mentions a “perceived stranglehold” on the village government. Perceived by whom? Himself? Obviously, if the worry is there, so is the reason for the need for change.

It’s time to move on, and with the new Village Council we’ve seen some of this. It needs to continue. The Planning and Zoning Board has, for far too long, been a nightmare to deal with.

It’s time to make people understand that when they’re appointed to boards or elected to the council or are hired by the village, they’re there to serve the population -- not the other way around. They shouldn’t become impediments to progress.

A sense of entitlement arises when the same people have been in the same positions for too long. This sense outweighs any experience gained by people for time served.

I’m for term limits to give a wider range of opinions, and new and differing outlooks, and to opening Miami Shores Village to more people who are interested in making the Shores a great place to live.

Richard DiRenzo
Miami Shores


Miami Shores: Board Debacle

The December article by Christopher Fernandez would have been more complete had he recounted, at least in part, the debacle surrounding the board of directors of Doctors Charter School of Miami Shores. Then, perhaps, it would make more sense to his readers as to the reasoning behind the council’s haste to make changes in the board selection process and the imposition of term limits.

Also, it was noted in that same issue’s column by Eleazar David Meléndez, “Distant Ballots,” that Brickell and downtown residents found it inconvenient to rock the vote. No voter should be inconvenienced while exercising the right and privilege to vote. Voter turnout is dismal enough without additional or cumbersome challenges.

But no one -- not reporter Meléndez, not any candidate, campaign manager, or resident -- mentioned the most practical way to resolve this issue: register for an absentee ballot, the “vote by mail” option.

It’s easy to do. Simply log on to the Miami-Dade government website, click on elections, and follow the prompts. Questions? Call 311.

Once the ballot is received by the voter, he or she completes it and mails it back to the elections office, postage prepaid.

The voter can also check the status of that ballot online. Then renew the application every two years.

Joan Dunn
Miami Shores


35 Is the Charm

I was surprised to read in Shane Graber’s Upper Eastside column (“Design Flaws,” December 2015) that someone would still be opposed to the 35-foot height limit in the MiMo Historic District.

That height limit has been phenomenally successful, with plenty of restorations, adaptive re-uses, and compatible new construction -- like the almost completed, elegantly MiMo-styled retail building at NE 64th Street.

All that success has been achieved without new vertical concrete looming over and shadowing the historic and traditional neighborhoods behind Biscayne Boulevard.

Some 40,000 cars use the Boulevard daily, so the corridor already has plenty of density and customer base. Compromising an appropriate height limit to allow a few out-of-scale buildings would not appreciably add to the customer base, but it would harm the historic character of the district.

Elvis Cruz


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