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17078: (Hermantin)Miami-Herald-Leaders shed light on plans for park (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Posted on Thu, Oct. 30, 2003

Leaders shed light on plans for park
A meeting on a long-anticipated park answers some questions, but residents
are still not sure when work will start on the 8.9-acre facility.
U/Miami News Service

Leaders reveal info on park

For the past five years, Little Haiti residents have been hearing a lot
about plans for a park in the community. Last week, at a meeting convened by
Miami officials, they heard a little more.

The three-hour Oct. 15 meeting at Miami Edison Middle School was heavy on
the ''what'' of the 8.9-acre park, but it left the 150 people in the
audience at a loss as to ''when'' the park will be built.

The presentation included overhead slide shows and discussions on the
recreational and cultural components of the park, which is to be constructed
at the Keystone Trailer Park site at 6307 NE Second Ave. The park, funded by
$25 million of Homeland Defense/Neighborhood Improvement Bonds, will feature
two soccer fields, a jogging trail, playground and picnic areas. Plans also
call for the renovation of the Caribbean Marketplace to be upgraded and
turned into a community center.

But there were no specific dates detailing when the park would be completed,
nor was there information on when construction would begin. Nevertheless,
city officials told the audience, which included a number of children, that
the park is a sure thing.

One of the reasons construction dates remain elusive is because the city has
not yet purchased the Keystone Trailer Park site. Miami Commissioner Arthur
Teele Jr. said city leaders could not comment on pending acquisitions.

''The dream of Little Haiti Park is going to happen,'' said Miami Chief
Administrator Joe Arriola, who left the meeting early, ''and it's going to
happen very soon. Trust me. The culture component and soccer component are
just the first. Within 90 days, there will be more components,'' he said
without providing any details.

Some in the audience said they based their skepticism on the fact that the
park has had so many different definitions. The original project planned for
a 60-acre park, but after business owners complained that several businesses
would be displaced, leaving hundreds of residents out of work, the plan was
scaled down to 45 acres, then 15, then to the current 8.9.

Supporters maintain that the park will be a catalyst for community

''This is the most significant project I've seen to help make the community
better,'' said Pierre Bayard, a local businessman. But Bayard and others
expressed that the park's long road to fruition may be a result of a
negative attitude about the Haitian community.

Teele, who first proposed the project in 1998, also tried to reassure the

''We have unbelievable resources to do the first two phases,'' Teele said.
''I don't want to bite off more than we can get done,'' he said.

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