The Biscayne Times

Aug 11th
Letters September 2019 PDF Print E-mail
Written by BT Readers   
September 2019

bigstock_Mail_Button_1727945Public Land and Bad Faith

In response to Janet Goodman’s article about city parks and the Trust for Public Land (“Miami Gets a Grade,” August 2019), I was on the parks committee of Miami Neighborhoods United (MNU) in the mid-2000s. We asked the City of Miami to begin charging impact fees [to developers] for parks because, as the population of the city grew, the amount of park space per resident would decrease. It was our expressed intent that the impact fee money be spent to buy more parkland.

The City of Miami loves to hear about a potential new revenue stream, so they liked our suggestion and soon began charging new developments for park impact fees.

But like too many City of Miami stories, this one got twisted.

It turns out the enabling Florida statute says that impact fees must be used to “add capacity” to parks.

We, the trusting and hopeful activists, thought that meant “buy more parkland,” to add capacity to the park system.

But instead, the City of Miami was soon interpreting that to mean they could use impact fee money to rebuild existing facilities as long as they made them bigger.

For example, Morningside Park had seven tennis courts that were in bad shape. If the city were to fix the seven tennis courts, that would be considered “maintenance” and be paid for with funds from the city’s general fund.

Instead, the city decided to add an eighth tennis court, even though it wasn’t needed and the neighbors hadn’t asked for one. The city said they were “adding capacity,” so they could use impact fee money to completely rebuild all eight courts, not just the one extra court.

In doing so, they put the eighth court where a second basketball court should have gone.

Circumventing the intent of “adding capacity” to the park system is not what MNU asked for. City officials are using park impact fees as part of their bad habit of under-maintaining facilities to the point of neglect, then demolishing and rebuilding them with capital-improvement money.

It is financially irresponsible and a waste of the taxpayers’ money.

Elvis Cruz


Thanks for the Lesson, and the History

I was greatly impressed with Fred Jonas’s “My View” article “Red Scare Rising” (August 2019). He brought to light the jazz great Hazel Scott with such grace, clarity, and pathos. He presented readers with not only an overview of Ms. Scott’s illustrious life as a musician, but further impact she had on the world during that time in history.

Kudos to Fred Jonas for bringing Ms. Scott out of obscurity, and delivering her to us with his top-notch writing and an eye for all the right details.

I look forward to reading more of his work. He has a compelling style that painted a stunning word-portrait of this great lady. Loved the photo, too.

Judith Marks-White
Westport, Connecticut


Hazel Scott, Joe McCarthy, and a Plea for Decency

What an excellent article is “Red Scare Rising.” The story of Hazel Scott and the specter of the McCarthy era ring true today and should serve as a reminder of the compelling need for decency in our private and public lives.

Nancy Frehling
Miami Shores


Some Great Parting Shots

A few words about Erik Bojnansky’s story about the closing of Laurenzo’s Italian Market (“Thanks for the Memories,” August 2019): Loved the photos!

Allen Perl
Bal Harbour


Editor’s note: The photos were shot by Marsha Halper, who for many years worked as a photojournalist at the Miami Herald.


Whisky in Glass Bottles: One Man’s Solution

In his column about one-use plastic bags (“Plastic Pileup for the Ages,” August 2019), your Greater Miami Shores correspondent, John Ise, wrote: “And herein lies the solution. Consumers can reward the Aldis [markets] of the world for being good environmental stewards and shun Publix. While policies like the one [Village Councilman] Jonathan Meltz promotes will nudge the plastic polluters of the world to do the right thing, the consumer’s purchasing power has the strength to shove them.”

Although Meltz is couching his approach to nixing plastic bags, he surprisingly is the only one on the Village Council dais who is actually addressing the problem, something also tied to our larger global climate crisis.

Aldi market is muy worthy on the Green Scale, but it can’t compete with the variety of products Publix offers, or its BOGOs.

Perhaps if they added their award-winning branded whiskies, which are also budget-friendly, more people might be persuaded to shop there and, with each sip, know they’re doing their share to save the planet.

Perhaps, then, the village should allow its Aldi to sell liquor, too. In glass bottles, of course.

DC Copeland
Miami Shores


One Woman’s Dog Poo Epiphany

It’s interesting that Miami Shores Councilman Jonathan Meltz is edging toward a ban on plastic shopping bags, and good luck with that. (I don’t live in the Shores, but I’m guessing he’ll need some luck.)

We consumers can cut down on the plastic use in other ways every time we shop at an Aldi or a Publix or any other market or drugstore.

I was aghast at my own purchases of single-use plastic containers from those kinds of businesses. So now I’m buying milk and juices in cartons; boxed versions of as many other products as I can; my dog food in cans, meat and fish right from the butcher counter so as to avoid Styrofoam; and I no longer use individual baggies set out for packaging produce. Straight into the cart they go; I wash them at home anyway.

Also important: I’ve quit using those plastic poo bags when I walk my dog. All I was doing, I realized, is preserving poo in plastic for a few centuries. Now I pick up the poop with newsprint (thanks, BT!), fold the paper, take it home in a plastic bag that I can reuse, flush the poo, and quickly rinse and recycle the paper.

I know I can’t avoid plastic, but I get some satisfaction for doing the right thing in small doses.

Rebecca Schultz Westbrook


Tallahassee Deals a Blow to the Environment

Once again, state Republican leadership is driving nails in the coffin of the state’s future environmental health. Thanks to Jeff Shimonski and his latest “Your Garden” column, “This Is Not Resilience” (August 2019), for noting the recent law out of Tallahassee and signed by the governor that gutted tree canopy protection and will prevent rainwater from replenishing the aquifers -- all in the name of enriching developers and their GOP enablers.

It was ironic that the tree in the photo was able to grow out its trunk to surround and engulf a large metal pipe and faucet. That kind of resilience took the tree years and years -- yet time is what leadership can’t grapple with as they pursue short-term and special-interest goals.

What are these people smoking that clouds their thinking and their vision? That allows them to trade away the state’s long-term sustainability for another decade or two grabbing cash that will likely be taken offshore (in my humble opinion)? Why are they spitting fire about an embryo, but indifferent to the deterioration of the human, natural, and societal life in front of their faces?

Christopher Parrillo


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