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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Parks being sold to the highest bidder

I have lived in Coconut Grove for over 40 years and have seen lots of changes, some good, some not so good.

Today, since public schools were closed, I was caring for my 8 year old grandson. He wanted to go to the soccer park in Peacock Park.

We arrived to find it locked, though no one was using it. I inquired of the attendant and he said to come back in the afternoon.

By the afternoon, I had two grandsons with me who wanted to practice in the soccer park in Peacock Park. We arrived at 3:30 pm St. Stephens was using the park and the gate was locked. I was told by the St. Stephens coach to come back at 4:15. He said St. Stephens had an agreement with the City of Miami and paid to use the park during the day until 4:15. There are two soccer courts. One was being used to teach golf(?).  I searched out the park employee and no one could be found. The bathrooms had no water nor did the water fountains.  Where the Chamber of Commerce had resided is now a Wine Bar being constructed. None of the workers could tell me where the park employee could be found.  A parent said, "St. Stephens had built the soccer park so they could use it."

So, my grandsons and I went off and came back at 4:15.  I again looked for the attendant and no one could be found.  The St. Stephen's kids were gone, but the gate was still locked.  My grandsons found a place to shimmy under the fence and I said I would take responsibility if they were scolded for entering that way.  The afternoon was flying passed and I wanted them to be able to play. One of the coaches from St. Stephens  who was locking the gate on the St. Stephen's  side (at 4:45)  was nice enough to open the gate that faces the public park, so two other boys (who had been waiting most of the afternoon) could enter the proper way.  

By 5:30, it was getting dark and I told the boys 10 more minutes. Along came a young man with a bag full of soccer balls. He drew a curtain dividing the two courts and proceeded to set up markers on his side of the soccer courts. I asked him if he taught soccer (as so many of our public parks do now) and he said the Paris Academy of St. Germain practiced there for two hours.  I asked him if the City was renting the court to his school and he said "no."  So there was only one court available to the general public from 5:30 to 7:30.

This is very disturbing to me. I pay high taxes to live in the Grove and so do my children.  It doesn't seem right that my grandchildren can't access all parts of the  parks we support with our taxes, especially when schools are closed.  

That park is public land to be used by the public. It should not be considered a money-maker for the city.  It's part of the services I and others are paying for just like fire and police.  

And what kind of message does having a wine bar in a park send to the children using the park?  Kids playing soccer, baseball, softball, basketball and pre-schoolers are climbing on playground equipment  can look over and watch their parents and other adults getting "buzzed."

Maybe the City Commission had decided that Coconut Grove should be for the rich who can afford private schools or can afford to pay for soccer programs in the parks. Or better still, maybe the Grove has become  more for the affluent professionals or wealthy foreigners without children. So, there is no need to provide space for children to play freely.

Parents and grandparents should raise their voices and demand the City provide access the land which was  set aside for the public.

I hope next time I watch my grandchildren, I won't have to drive to Pinecrest or Coral Gables so they can play without restrictions.

Karen Ryan-Young
Coconut Grove

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Blogger madreperla said...

Karen, Thanks for sharing this to us. I totally hear you. The grove seems very different today, where money and political interests prevail over neighbors. I have been myself wondering why those courts were always closed. We have tried several times to go with our kids (13- 16) and never found a soul. The wine bar seems outrageous, and the whole idea of the city loosing land to "investors" just seems wrong. We need to be aware, otherwise we will soon find ourselves locked out of all parks!!! I have also wondered if the new park across 27 th is property of the building that will be built! They made all this street arrangements on 27th but forgot pedestrian crossings.... Oh.. well.. just Ferraris, Bentleys and Aston Martins will probably be using the streets... sad. very sad. We hope that the new commissioner steps up, as fot the one before...

January 28, 2016 7:53 AM  
Blogger Bruce said...

I totally agree with you. Took my 9 year old to Peacock Park on Monday at 3 to practice basketball. The courts were locked up tighter than Rick Scott's emails. We spent an hour on the jungle gym and slides, making up games with the basketball. No one ever showed up to open the courts, even though St Stephens was not using them.

January 28, 2016 8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The city has sold out for money. As to the new restaurant Vine and Glass it is the same corporation that has taken over the old Scotties location and doing the redevelopment. I have tried to go multiple times with my nephew with the same results. The Vine and Wine restaurant should have stayed for the community next thing to happen free parking for guest or valet for the restaurant guest. I do not see why there cannot be a city employee at all times in the park, when the school pays, the city is getting rent from the restaurant and other events in the park.

January 28, 2016 8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Parks are for the PEOPLE! Over the years I've read in the Grape where folks have gone to Peacock Park numerous times to use this area only to find it locked, apparently by St. Stevens. On one occasion the police were ordering the homeless away from this area where kids were playing. Why don't some of you people get together and make an appointment with a high ranking St. Stevens rep, and commissioner Russel, sit down and talk and do your kids a favor and get this issued worked out - - - - finally. Jobie Steppe

January 28, 2016 9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another one of Sarnoff's ideas continuing to haunt Grove residents. This issue goes back several years:

Bolt cutters will make short work of the lock. Maybe after destroying several locks the city and the school will get a hint that this will not fly with taxpayers.

January 28, 2016 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The locked, gated soccer field in the public Peacock Park is the result of a deal that Marc Sarnoff orchestrated between Saint Stephen's and the City of Miami.

There is a group called the "Friends of Peacock Park" that acts as stewards of the park. The group is led by David Villano and Glen Terry. David Villano is also a Saint Stephen's parent, Board Member and a soccer coach.

The Friends of Peacock Park were very pro-active in moving the popular Coconut Grove Roller Hockey Team (the Tasmanian Devils), a youth hockey team comprised of many African-American boys from the West Grove, out of the exact same area of the park and over to another, less desirable park further away.

When the same section of Peacock Park was then occupied by a very popular skateboard park (free and always accessible to the public) the Friends of Peacock park, led by David Villano, rallied to shut it down.

That is when the Saint Stephen's Board of Director's (of which David Villano is a member) Pastor Willie Allen Faiella, and Marc Sarnoff teamed up to orchestrate an illegal deal to take over the very same section of the public park for the sole use of Saint Stephen's Episcopal Day School as a private, gated and locked soccer field.

Saint Stephen's renovated the area to suit their specific needs and the area of public park remains gated and locked at all times.

Developer Jorge Perez, whose son attends Saint Stephens and plays soccer on the now private soccer field in the public park, helped fund the renovations and is the schools biggest donor.

This is 100% illegal, however Saint Stephen's will continue to get away with this crime until they are challenged in a court of law.

There are several precedents for a case such as this, like this one in NYC that was easily won in court by a group of committed neighbors.

Whom amongst us will organize our group of committed neighbors and take back our public park?

January 28, 2016 10:26 AM  
Blogger J. Kay said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 28, 2016 11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

St. Stephen parents and administrators are VERY connected

January 28, 2016 11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said... will if 10 concerned interested parties will chip in $45.00, each, to cover the $450.00 fee to file a complaint in Federal Court.

It appears that anon 10:26 is familiar with the facts, and if correct this portion of the park can be returned to the public almost immediately, however,

I placed a phone call to St Stevens today asking for an explanation. St. Stevens must be given the opportunity to return this portion of the peoples park back to the general public.

For example: At the SE corner of the tennis courts on Oak, just to the South of the racket ball courts I noticed that a gate could be opened by the home owner(s) allowing the young to enter the property. I called the parks department and the gate was welded shut, wherefore,

Asking the police and a park supervisor to meet us at this locked gate in a public park, which is unlawful and ask the police to either order St Stevens to unlock the gate and/or ask that they issue a violation; just to get things rolling!

If this fails, the City & St Stevens would have been placed on alert, an official notification will be issued by of an intended complaint being filed in federal court.

A Help Mother Ocean corporate attorney will handle the case.

The question is; are there at least 10 interested individuals who will take the time and make an effort to get this done?

FOX News, perhaps Patrick Frasure, the Miami Herald and High Times might tab alone to lionize our concerns.

Anon 10:26, how do you know this? - Director Jobie Steppe

January 28, 2016 12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Jobie, how many lawsuits have your attorneys won in the 11 months that your non-profit has been active?

January 28, 2016 1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe had you left out your teetotaler rant, you wouldn't have seemed quite so...

anyway. I support people having wine more than them having whine.

Someone go cut the lock - if you get arrested, I'll defend you pro bono.

January 28, 2016 2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one has wronged Help Mother Ocean (HMO) since it's inception November, 2013. Jobie Steppe has filed 11 legal complaints, pro se and won 9 to date. Two are active. (HMO) participated with the Netherlands & 11 other entities last Saturday @ Peacock Park, sponsored by the City of Miami, to lionize and bring attention to toxic plastic waste in the oceans, the direct cause of autism and many forms of breast cancer and other health care issues. I've never used the section of the park where this fence is, but if I needed to use this public property that my taxes are partially used for, I certainly would have the balls to take an action, hence a law suit rather than stupid bolt cutters. Personally I don't think 10 individuals will come forward with $45.00, each to test my sincerity, but if they did I'm sure I'd get the results I wanted. The City of Miami, therefore St. Stevens would certainly be made aware of my familiarity with the Courts. Personally, I could care less if St. Stevens ever unlocks the gate, however I'm a registered Florida State Lobbyist child advocate, so I took an interest in this park, only for the children! Personally I've always enjoyed a good fight and children are worth this effort for me, what about you? Help Mother Ocean Corporation - Jobie Steppe

January 28, 2016 3:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are you referring to yourself in third person? You might want to update your lobbyist registration with the state as you do not show up on their directory of active lobbyists.

January 28, 2016 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know anything about 1st, 2'd or 3'd person(s), what I do know is this: punks go anon and I gave up registering as a lobbyist child advocate after I learned that 50,000,000 million children died annually due to one quart of water, a small sugar and salt packet @ cost of about 20 cents, to off set diarrhea resulting in dehydration. I actually enjoy it when you punks put down a good honest concept! Forget my name, go with the concept - PUNK! It's go to know your're so involved as to have checked out my registration so you could denounce children! Jobie Steppe

January 28, 2016 5:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry but you brought this scrutiny upon yourself by asking for donations and claiming that you're a registered lobbyist when you are not. You are being deceitful.

January 28, 2016 5:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never asked a favor of another human being, I've never asked to borrow a penny from another human being and I've most certainly have NEVER asked for a DONATION regarding any of my social issue concepts; check out corporations under EUGENE JOBIE STEPPE. I'm always self-financed just as I am with and, i.e., The Artistic Solution to Plastic Pollution . org.

January 28, 2016 6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, but you're suggestion/comment "you brought this scrutiny upon yourself asking for donations" that I'm "registered lobbyist, when you are not" " You are being deceitful". Kiss my butt punk! No one can say I've asked for "Donations, which I have never done. Frankly, anon, you are a liar. You punks come out of the woodwork, make statements that have nothing to do with reality. That's the privilege of going anon. I print my name to give you punks a target to attack, as in cowardly, deceitful attack, a target, I bait you and then I snag you! Let's take the locks off this gate so that youth can engage. HELLO! JOBIE STEPPE.

January 28, 2016 6:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lithium - it's a type of salt... I think you may want to look into it.

January 29, 2016 11:47 AM  

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