|Letters February 2017|
|Written by BT Readers|
Great Story, Bummer Ending
Thank you to Kathy Glasgow for the compelling and very sad story of Tray Battle (“Crime and Redemption,” December 2016, January 2017).
It was wonderful to read a two-part story, and I was checking my mailbox for the January issue of the BT for the conclusion. I couldn’t wait to hear how it ended.
To say I’m disappointed in this ending is an understatement. I wish guys like Tray Battle could hit the reset button and start everything over. His is an all-too-familiar a story of systematic neglect and poor decisions. It’s heartbreaking.
I hope the BT can do more serialized content in the future -- it was a great read, and a very engaging story.
I’ll be praying for Mr. Battle and wishing him a more peaceful journey moving ahead.
Thanks for the story.
Thank you, Janet Goodman, for your informative and well-researched article (“Raccoons and Robotics,” January 2017). I can always count on you to learn something new.
Your choice of the unique and challenging subject relating to raccoons, robotics, and our local park environment makes your column extremely valuable.
Thank you for Jenni Person’s article this month, about taking her daughter to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Women’s March (“Road Trip, Seriously,” January 2017). It is a crucial time for all of us to stand up and be heard.
I live here in Biscayne Times territory, but I work with Planned Parenthood Global in Latin America. I have spent the last 20-plus years working across the Latin America region to improve the health conditions for women so that they have the freedom to make their own best decisions about their lives and futures.
It is a challenging and inspiring job to work alongside so many brave and committed Latin American advocates who are fighting in very hostile environments to gain the rights my generation has taken for granted in the U.S.
And now I find myself in the ironic position of volunteering my time on behalf of women here because our country is at critical risk of tumbling backward.
None of us can take this sitting down. If it means driving across country to attend the march in D.C., or showing up at the many local events or signing petitions or calling/e-mailing your legislators, we all have a role to play.
I hope we can read more about these issues in the pages of Biscayne Times. It’s great to hear about the actions of our neighbors on behalf of all of us who are currently feeling under siege, whether we are women, queer, immigrant, disabled, poor, people of color, teachers, scientists, public workers, journalists, lovers of oxygen and the Earth, or just plain old-fashioned believers in the rule of law, respectful discourse, and democracy.
That’s a big constituency. Let’s make it impossible to ignore us.
I want to correct a false impression that Julie Mansfield’s letter on the Legion Park Special Area Plan (“Neighbors Should Stay Out of This Matter,” January 2017) may have given your readers.
Ms. Mansfield appears to believe that “neighbors” may be able to stop construction of a five-story apartment building on American Legion land, along with a new headquarters building. In fact, that is a false assumption.
Those plans are what is called “of right.” No special zoning exemptions are being sought. Whatever happens on American Legion land depends solely and exclusively on the private land lease agreement the American Legion signed with the developers, subject only to approval by pertinent City of Miami zoning regulators. No one else has any legal standing to interfere in those plans.
What the community is objecting to is that, after working out the agreement with the American Legion, the developers promptly acquired for themselves several additional acres of property immediately adjacent to the Legion’s lands. They evicted all the tenants and then turned to the City of Miami with a request for a handover of about two more acres of city-owned Legion Park land, so they could cobble together an area encompassing nine acres in total -- the minimum amount required for a Special Area Plan.
Under Miami 21, Special Area Plans allow developers to request zoning changes resulting in much bigger, taller, and densely populated developments than they would otherwise be entitled to build.
So please, Ms. Mansfield, don’t blame the neighbors if developers are using the American Legion and its veterans -- not to mention land from our public park -- as pawns to patch together a much larger development than just the land leased from the American Legion.
They want to build the largest development ever built in Miami’s historic Upper Eastside, one that is completely out of size and scale with the surrounding neighborhood.
That is what the neighbors are objecting to. We do not agree that the City of Miami should contribute public parkland -- land -- to be used to allow a developer to build a project that would dominate our urban landscape and change its character forever, irreversibly.
It is very much to be hoped -- since the developers lost no time in tearing down the American Legion’s old headquarters building -- that they will in fact follow through on all their promises to the American Legion.
There is nothing to stop them from building their “of right” nice rental apartment building and the new clubhouse for the Legion. Nothing, of course, unless they themselves choose not to honor their agreement with our veterans.
I feel compelled to respond to Julie Mansfield’s letter regarding the potential development of land adjacent to and at the site of the former American Legion Post on NE 64th Street (“Neighbors Should Stay Out of This Matter,” January 2017).
Mrs. Mansfield admits she does not live near Legion Park, yet she thinks neighbors of Legion Park should stop objecting to the proposed upzoning of land adjacent to Legion Park, which is required to permit the erection of five buildings, including a couple of high-rises, with more than 700 new residential units and 30,000-plus square feet of new retail space.
While some of Mrs. Mansfield’s enumerated goals are laudable, like repairing the Legion Park community center and building “some nice rental apartments for veterans and working people,” using these alleged goals as a subterfuge for planting five massive new structures and the resultant detriment to traffic and quality of life of all who live nearby, are decidedly not.
Further, Mrs. Mansfield appears ignorant (maybe deliberately) of the following:
• The developers can build “some nice rental apartments for veterans and working people” under current zoning. They just can’t build 700-plus apartments without getting changes and special treatment at Miami City Hall.
• The fact that building up to five new structures of this magnitude will have a permanent impact on “anyone else” is precisely what is of concern to us who live nearby.
• No one is asking the developers to contribute for improvements to Legion Park. The park functions perfectly well as it is. It provides daily enjoyment to many neighbors and as many as 200 children who are happy to have it remain in its present form. The developers’ “offer” to improve the park is a thin disguise to buy upzoning and to make use of the park to improve the marketing potential of their market rate apartments and condos.
• It appears the developers hurriedly demolished the American Legion Hall building while the City of Miami Historic and Environmental Preservation Board was in the process of requesting historic designation for Legion Park. Also, the American Legion property is being leased by the developers, as buying the property would have triggered a reverter clause, and the site would have gone back to the state.
• For Mrs. Mansfield to invoke “heroes who risked their lives to protect our nation” as a reason to grant the needed variances to build this massive structure, which will inevitably impact the lives of thousands of residents, is deceitful at best.
It is inevitable that reasonable development will come to our area. However, the quality of life of those who live around this property cannot be subservient to the profit desires of a real estate speculator. The existing zoning restrictions are there for a reason, and should be followed.
Editor’s note: See “This Land Is Your Land -- Or Should Be” for an update of the Legion Park development story.
Volume 15, Issue 2, April 2017
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