Saturday, February 24, 2007

It Was Supposed To Have Been a Golf Course

For a few brief years people were expecting a golf course where there was only a mangrove swamp east of Biscane Blvd. and south of 163rd St., just to the north of North Miami. The area was known as the Graves Tract. When local civic activists discovered that the land was about to be sold to some developers who planned on building hi-rise condos on the site they succeeded in rallying the citizens of North Miami to save the Graves Tract and the scenic Oleta River which winds its way through it to Biscayne Bay. The city passed a bond issue to raise part of the $12,000,000 to buy the land, lobbied the state to come up with the rest, and annexed it into the city. The state built the North Campus of Florida International University on their parcel, an area that had already been filled in.

The city contracted with a company called Munisport to build a golf course on part of the property. Munisport promised to save the city millions by operating a garbage dump there for several years to build up the elevation of the land. Of course that polluted the ground water and the golf course never progressed beyond about 6 holes before the Environmental Protection Agency shut things down. The city was stuck with paying off the bond issue. Monitoring wells were installed to keep track of the pollution. Finally, after close to thirty years the city got the all clear. The land was safe to use.

The golf course was a dead issue. Munisport was just memories. Instead, another developer came along with a really brilliant idea: Hi-Rise Condominiums! Well, what did you expect? What's really amazing is that while $12,000,000 seemed like a major fortune a few decades ago, today it'll barely buy a couple of penthouse condos. Small change! Maybe half of the mangrove swamp is now a protected preserve. Along Biscayne Blvd. in front of where the condos are being built are some new shops and a Publix supermarket. That's where I'm sitting while waiting for Mary to finish her grocery shopping.


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