Let's use Peacock Park as an example.
J.L. Plummer represented the Grove for nearly three decades. Beginning in the 70's, the city commissioner did all he could to suck the life out of the Grove's central park. Its recreation center was closed ("The city has no money!") Later, it was converted into office space. Neglect gave bums every reason to move into the park and, the did.
Still, nothing blocked its dreamy view of Biscayne Bay except a few curving coconut trees. ..until the eighties. That's when "JL" approved of a plan to plant mangrove trees along the shoreline.
Kennedy and Myers Parks got the same treatment. Now, with the trees fully grown, the view of the bay is blocked.
No other seaside parks suffer this. It is beyond reason.
Mangrove trees do make fish happy but we need a few windows to see the water as well.
Once I tried to discuss these problems with our City Hall representative, Mr. Plumber. His secretary refused to give me an appointment. I was told, "If he wants to talk to you, he'll call you back" and of course, he never did.
In 2002 we elected Johnny Winton. He lost his touch with the Grove when tried to turn Peacock Park into a roller hockey stadium. In 2006 he had a few too many and head-butted a cop. So long Johnny.
The commissioner appointed to replaced him spent a lot of time in her office. The city manager accused her of being impaired by a stash of vodka in her desk. She was soon replaced when we elected our present Grove representative, Marc Sarnoff.
Marc has never been drunk in public or on the job. Perhaps he has never been drunk. He's one up tight hep cat dude. Mr. Sarnoff has also done an poor job of turning Peacock Park into something good.
We've heard the his lines so many times, "There is no money to help the parks in Miami's wealthiest neighborhood" . "We can not provide Grove park programs (although many other city parks have them)".
This has gone on forever but the neglect has gotten worse.
Last spring, Sarnoff leased much of Peacock Park to a private school. It was his idea to finance "park improvements" with a park giveaway.
St. Stephens school is spending a half-million dollars to build small, fenced, soccer fields, pathways, and a large, black play pit.
Try romping in that. It is filled with tiny pieces of shredded rubber tires.
Go to Peacock to see what you're going to be fenced out of. The private school in the background, who hold the keys, had a big dedication ceremony this week. Were you invited?
There is a new circular bench (the one good thing) and
still much of the construction the mess.
Yes, this "mess" will be cleaned up next month but Peacock will still be a mess. Our city commissioner has made sure of that.
We've given away a piece of a public park again. The City of Miami has done this for years.
What was a popular public basketball court is now being surrounded by a 12-foot fence.
Who knows if any kid will be able to go there to shoot hoops again?
As I mentioned earlier, the bay view of the Grove's central park has been blocked by trees. Commissioner Sarnoff told us recently he spent four years trying to fix this but was unsuccessful. Maybe his chain saw needed gas.
The recreation building (we call it "The Glass House") is no longer an office. It sits empty.
This could be could be good news but in Miami, one never knows. We can only hope that our city leaders reads its bronze plaque that says, "Built in 1972 to serve the public".
In the mean time, if you need a place to sleep, the porch outside is available.
If Peacock Park is an example of how the Grove is treated by the City of Miami, maybe it is time to secede. It did not work in '77 or '92 but there might be an alternative.
Maybe we should start a talent search nation-wide for our next Grove leader. If they do that for hospital chairmen and school superintendents, why not for a city officials?
It is clear that everyone we elect is incompetent.
Lets grab someone from Austin, Boulder or Minneapolis. They're well run cities because their leaders are better than ours.
In the mean time Miami will continue to fritter its parks away like so much shredded rubber.