Don't attack the messenger
Yesterday, after I published my piece on my wish to see Shake Shack at the Glass House, I received this anonymous comment:
"Tom, how can you think that selling off public property in a public park to private companies is is any way, shape or form is a good idea? It was built as a community center for the residents of Coconut Grove. The NET offices and Chamber of Commerce took it away from the residents years ago."
He went on: "I feel that you are a voice for the Grove and when you stand up and make suggestions like Shake Shack instead of questioning the wisdom of selling a public park to private investors you ARE supporting and promoting that idea."
My response to that is, I have been questioning the issue for four years now. I have been writing about it and people have been debating it. And while I am not in favor of a restaurant over a community center, what if I was? Why do I need to take his side? Who says, the "voice of the Grove" shouldn't like a restaurant in the space? Who is to say what is right and what is wrong?Again, I did not say I was in favor of a public park being taken over by private companies, in fact, starting in 2009 I was at meetings including one with with the Friends of Peacock Park to question this idea. I don't believe our accuser was at any of those meetings.
At the time, a friend left a comment under the story I wrote, which stated, "I attended the meeting and felt that unless the residents get involved and ask questions and demand answers Peacock park will have a full service restaurant with a wine and beer license, full catering rights to the park and possibly the park could be eventually privatized."
That comment was published here in the Grapevine in 2009.
Back to our anonymous commenter; I told him I would not debate anonymous people so he kindly revealed his name and said he has been a Grovite since the 1960s, so I suspect most of the changes that have gone on around here have been a thorn in his side. I do have to agree that too much is changing too fast, but to blame the messenger for what is happening at the Glass House is out of line.
I am not here to take sides. I don't have to take his side or anyone's side and I am not going to fight his or anyone else's battles. When the RFP (Request for Proposals) for the Glass House and the proposed restaurant was brought up by me, right here, years ago, where were people then? Why wait till it's too late to fight the issue? The RFP has gone out, that's it.
In my article yesterday about the Shake Shack, I was just answering the question, which was not asked, but I answered, "What type of restaurant would you like to see in the location?" I chose Shake Shack only because if a restaurant goes in, I would like to see something that everyone would use. I passed a bunch of kickball teams in the park yesterday, I am sure that most of these guys and girls would visit the Shake Shack after their games rather than if it was a high end restaurant, which I believe most, if not all, would just bypass after their games. So a restaurant for the masses seems to be what is needed.
Would it be great if a community center went in there. Sure. Would it be great if they knocked down the whole thing and made it a lawn? Yes, why not? Would it be even better if new, clean bathrooms, water fountains and shade was brought in instead? Of course.
This public/private park thing has been going on all over the country. In New York City now, most parks host vendors. Union Square has a large farmer's market most of the year, which runs most of the week, not just weekends, which was the original plan, and in the fall and winter, along with the farmer's market, there is a huge bazaar that takes over a big portion of the park. They start with pumpkins and Halloween items and then it ends up being Christmas trees and Christmas stuff and all the while the farmer's market is going on.
The same people run a holiday bazaar in Brant Park and also inside Grand Central Terminal. Fashion Week tents, an ice skating rink and a carousel in Bryant Park behind the NY Public Library are also a big part of that city park, various times of the year. There are also little snack and ice cream kiosks that dot one area and there are lots of little cafe tables where people eat and hang out. All this was parkland a few years back.
Am I in favor of it? I don't know, I just looked up one day and it was all there. Perhaps the people of New York fought the idea, but it happened. The parks are all commercialized now, whether it's right or wrong.
For more years than many of us have been alive, the Boathouse restaurant has operated in the center of Central Park and on the other side of the park, inside the park, Tavern on the Green operated for many years. This is not just a Miami thing and it's not such a new thing.
And if people are against the Glass House becoming a restaurant on city owned land, let me ask you, do you go to The Fresh Market, Scotty's Landing, Red Fish Grill (at Matheson Hammock) and other places on the waterfront? Did you go to Sundays on the Bay on Key Biscayne in the past? Have you eaten at the restaurant at Black Point Marina or the lighthouse on Key Biscayne? Then you are feeding into the problem. In all of these cases, the businesses are leasing the land from the city, county or state.
And if you don't like the Glass House project, just wait, the future plans for the waterfront where Scotty's and the Chart House is now, is supposed to one day become Coconut Grove's version of Bayside. Just like I told you about the Glass House plans four years ago and I repeated the plans many times over the years, I am telling you about the waterfront plan. You know that Starbucks is going in at Monty's, right? Well that could be the start of things to come.
So stop blaming the messenger. I am only here to give you the message, that's it. You need to take it and run with it from here. I can't stop these projects, I can only inform you about them. And I do right from the beginning. I can't help it if you wait years, until it's too late.For the record, I am against a private, money-making venture taking over city or county owned property to run a restaurant or any other type of business. And yes, I am guilty of frequenting the places that do eventually take over the land for private businesses. I think most of us do and that is why it keeps happening.
YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.