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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Whose waterfront is it?

I’m a big booster of Coconut Grove. I love this place. I moved here in 2013, and I don’t “remember it when.” I have always liked it the way it is. But I’m concerned about what it might become.

The closing of the waterfront between City Hall and the dry storage marina north of it is a bad sign. Everything about it has been handled badly. The indications are that no one in a position of authority over the waterfront cares about those of us who use the waterfront on a daily basis and treasure it as one of the best things about Coconut Grove.

For me, this realization started on one of my frequent bike rides along the waterfront when I encountered a fence across the Baywalk just north of City Hall. At the time there was no indication on the fence of who had closed the Baywalk, why it was closed, or when it would open. Since that time, a sign has been placed on the fence telling people who want to go to the former Scottie’s to use Pan American Drive because the Baywalk has been closed for construction—nothing about who did it or how long the closure will last.

The closing of the waterfront has been a gesture of unbelievable arrogance and indifference to the public’s right to have access to this iconic and beloved public space. As a member of the Coconut Grove Village Council, I wanted to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. My first call was to Commissioner Ken Russell’s office—specifically, to Cynthia Seymour, the hard-working staff person responsible for Coconut Grove issues. Without going into all the gory details, suffice it to say that Cynthia told me there have been “communication issues” with the various City of Miami departments that might resolve the problem or provide good answers.

So I took it upon myself to write directly to the City Manager with several questions about how the closure of the waterfront came about, who was responsible, and what could be done to prevent such occurrences in the future. I serve on a nine-member elected body that represents the approximately 20,000 residents of Coconut Grove. Presumably, that might merit a response—though even if I did not hold a publicly elected position, a response would be in order. To date I have received no response. I’ve placed the issue on the agenda of the Village Council meeting of Monday, March 11 (6:30 p.m. at Miami City Hall). Cynthia assures me someone from the City of Miami staff will be there to answer questions. I still haven’t heard one word from the City Manager’s office.

And now we have the final slap in the face in this whole ugly incident: Instead of someone from the company that’s developing the closed section of the waterfront, we have a smug message from the company’s public relations firm (published in the Grapevine on March 9) saying the closure is related to “two active permits.” The implication is because they have permits, closing the waterfront is absolutely okay. Who gave those permits? Under what circumstances? And why was the company not required to provide continued access to the waterfront throughout the construction project, just as developers and roadway builders are required to provide an MOT plan (Maintenance of Traffic) when changes or repairs are being made to public roadways?

Does the developer care at all about our community? Instead of coming down from his high place to address the people of Coconut Grove directly, he has assigned his PR firm to do the job. We don’t deserve to be in direct communication with anyone who has that much money and power. We’re the little people of Coconut Grove.

For the first time, amid all the controversy about development in Coconut Grove, I’m truly afraid of what “they” may do to us. What makes me most afraid is that our City staff are letting it happen. (“We have two active permits.”)

Hank Sanchez-Resnik
Director, Transportation and Mobility Committee
Coconut Grove Village Council

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Blogger DeepStream Designs said...

Unbelievable Arrogance and Indifference

When the City, under sell out Sarnoff, gave a 99 year monopoly lease on the waterfront, helping rig the bidding to eliminate other more qualified and vested parties because the City wanted that party to pay the taxes that their contract said should be paid by the City, what did you expect. The developer has bought and paid for their representation and they don't expect any complaints about "inconvenience" by the citizen tax payer.

March 10, 2019 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not sense a conspiracy or evil intent regarding this locked gate. While talking with the City of Miami water dock & dry storage facility manager today 6 people crawled/swung around the gate, over the water and continued walking this pathway. The manager speculated since the CITY owned the property The Hospitality Group "probably" had to obtain written permission from someone @ CITY to place this gate that was left open for weeks. He also noted the pathway was "extremely dangerous @ night", what with damaged & broken guardrails. Anyone can walk & bike the walkway to view sunsets, boats and the bay. And if a person were free to continue past this gate they would only enjoy a side street back to Bayshore Drive out by Whole Foods Market. The CITY Marina manager and I grappled with the notion there were both good & bad repercussions resulting from this gate. The two of us couldn't conjure up intent to harm/deny the general public and we couldn't speculate if the gate would be opened no matter who talks to who. The seawall is unsafe, but anyonee who wants can walk it. It might just be an insurance issue. Jobie Steppe

March 10, 2019 1:27 PM  
Anonymous Claudia de Oliveira Castro said...

I totally agree with Mr. Sanchez-Resnik, whom I have know well before he and his wife moved to the Grove.

It is of outmost importance to keep the boardwalk open to all Coconut Grove residents who use it on a daily basis.

Can constructions simply close sidewalks? NO. Common sense and the law stipulate that sidewalks cannot be closed unless an alternative walkway is provided.

This is simply outrageous.

We are stripped of our rights as tax paying citizens, and no one cares to fix the problem (just as the beautiful wooden boardwalk at Peacock Park damaged by Hurricane Irma more than a year and a half ago and NOTHING has been done to fix it!).

Are money and power going to be the new order in the Grove? The antithesis of what the Grove's philosophy used to be.

Very sad indeed.

March 10, 2019 7:01 PM  
Blogger Bruce said...

Amen Hank!
And Jobie, though your post was less rambling than usual, FWIW Whole Foods is at Sunset and Red.

March 10, 2019 9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whatever, (1) The entire seawall path is open from Scotties to the Miami Marina. (2) 50% of the railing has fallen into the water making the seawall portion somewhat dangerous and unsafe for less capable persons, baby carriages, the disabled. (3) An alternative route has been provided. (4) People who are capable simply climb around the locked fence, are undeterred, and enjoy the view. (5) If a person were to be walking from Scotties, and if the gate were opened all they would experience is a paved street with a building on each side until they reach the parking lot of Whole Foods on Bayshore Drive - They experience no divine revelations or views. (6) So, since these are facts and I walked the entire pathway beginning @ MIAMI CITY HALL, past Scotties stopping at the locked gate, turned around and took the alternative pathway, down to Whole Foods parking lot, down a paved road and up to the locked gate, climbed around the locked gate and enjoyed the view without allowing the locked gate to stress me out thinking about some perceived willful heinous evil intent. And if it were raining I would have enjoyed the adventure more so @ age 76. How's this for rambling? Jobie Steppe

March 11, 2019 8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bruce, read the previous Letter to the Editor regarding this locked gate! Mentioned are the Grove Bay Hospitality Group, The Regatta Harbor, The TREO Group, The City of Miami, the comments section, unanswered phone calls, conspiracy theories, evil willful intent, The Coconut Grove Village Council, Whole Foods which you describe as rambling & confused. We are enlightened & blessed with your insightful comment related to the locked Gate! Perhaps you could add something useful.

March 11, 2019 10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Taking into consideration all the entities involved, he said, she said, unanswered phone calls, City of Miami, Village Council, GBHB, RH, TREO Group, conspiracy theories, evil willful intent, insurance & safety how could anyone not ramble from dot to dot; speculation. All comments on blogs are rambling as they all try to touch upon the subject matter in that they are repetitive. The opposite of rambling is nothingness such as Bruce's comment and contributes nothing related to the blog. I.E., the gate remains locked.

March 12, 2019 8:57 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The Grove should have incorporated a long time ago. Miami city hall is smack in the middle of an area the mayors have not cared about. I'm afraid it's too late.

March 12, 2019 2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like this guy is throwing a hissy fit because he's not allowed to bike on potentially dangerous private property.

March 15, 2019 2:22 PM  

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