Saturday, June 09, 2007

Careful, Now! Don't Throw The Pony Out With The Creek Water! A Ranch In North Miami.

I'm standing on the west bank of the north branch of Arch Creek where the kids come to ignore the "Do Not Feed The Ducks" signs. Thirty odd years ago this whole area was slated to be cleared for development, but a group of concerned citizens rallied the troops and got the city to put a bond issue on the ballot to buy the land for a park. A couple of the property owners, a pre-school and a pony ranch, were against it but they agreed to sell if they could keep the school and the pony ranch where they were. The people thought that was a better deal than more high rises, the bond issue passed, and The Enchanted Forest park was born. Generations of kids have ridden those ponies and lots of birthday parties have been celebrated there.
If the developer's plans had prevailed the historic creek, site of an early white settlement as well as hundreds of years of Tequesta Indians living there, would have been leveled, the creek converted to an underground pipe with storm drains letting the water from paved parking areas enter it, and the ancient live oaks destroyed.
Day before yesterday I posted a picture of my daughter Elena riding one of the ponies at the Rock-N-Ranch. This morning on the first page of the Miami Herald's local news section was the headline "Lack Of Insurance May Rein In Ponies".
The City of North Miami requires the owner, Shirley Chance, to carry liability insurance. Nobody wants to write her a policy. She's upset!
We live in an age when if a kid falls off a pony the parents sue. When I was a kid we KNEW that you could fall off. Our parents knew. Even the lawyers knew, and they would be laughed out of court for even filing a suit. Hell, any self respecting judge would probably cite the lawyer for contempt for wasting the court's time. Not anymore! Today if a kid gets bitten while standing there with his folks feeding a pony right in front of the "Do Not Feed The Ponies" sign some greedy attorney will gladly take the opportunity to drag Shirley to court. Since it's on city property, a potential "deep pocket", the dollar signs will glow neon in a lawyer's eyes. Don't feel bad for Shirley Chance. Don't feel bad for the ponies. Feel bad for all those hundreds of children who'll never get to ride a pony.
Here's a link to the Herald article, but these links usually don't stay active for more than a week or two:


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