Groups fight for 4-acre parkland behind AmericanAirlines Arena

Commission voted to allow Cuban Exile Museum on acreage

By Glenna Milberg - Reporter

MIAMI - A group of open-space activists are planning the first picnic in Miami-Dade County's so-called Parcel B Saturday, hoping to bring attention to 20 years of broken promises at the 4-acre waterfront site.

"Interested groups are fighting a little more aggressively to get this 4-acre site turned into a park -- the waterfront park that it should be," said Peter Ehrlich, of the Urban Environmental League of Miami, and one of the organizers of the event.

What was supposed to be parkland behind the AmericanAirlines Arena has become defacto valet space for the Miami Heat and a staging for arena events. It was recently paved for a street race. The Miami-Dade County Commission has voted to allow a Cuban Exile Museum there if private money can be raised to build it.

"Miami suffers from terrible voter apathy and terrible civilian apathy, and we're trying to correct that," said Justin Wales, with Emerge Miami, another event organizer.

A public park with soccer fields was among promises by the Miami Heat 20 years ago as the team was trying to garner voter support for public land and money for their arena deal. In a 2004 article, their consultant called the promise "key to the campaign."

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