South Dade Miami residents were jubilant recently after Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava changed course and suggested county commissioners reject a plan to build a water park adjacent to Zoo Miami.
In a Nov. 15 memo, she encouraged the commission “not to renew the lease in order to protect the county’s interests and the community’s demands.” Although no vote has yet been taken, the National Park Service stepped to the fore to admit it made mistakes in approving the controversial project.
The development in question would include a water park, a lodge hotel/resort and retail shops in an area dedicated to parking. That has outraged residents and environmentalists.
Mayor Levine Cava has recommended canceling the December 12 vote on the project and is advising commissioners not to renew the lease with Miami Wilds. Residents were delighted by her statement.
“I am grateful that a strong voice like Mayor Danielle Levine Cava is speaking against Miami Wilds,” stated 22-year-old Country Walk resident Lucianna Valle de La Rocha. “Coral Reef Drive is already facing a huge amount of traffic that has been made worse by the new Walmart and apartment complex.”
Zoo Miami is located on Coral Reef Drive, a street that tends to get clogged with traffic throughout the day. Long-time residents of the neighborhoods around the zoo are troubled not just by environmental damage to a rare pine rockland, but also with the increase of traffic expected due to this development.
Fifty-two-year-old Richmond Heights resident Diana Rincon explained her view on Miami Wilds this way: “I believe that the creation of a water park is completely unnecessary and a detriment to not just our quality of life, but the animals too.”
The area has also been disrupted by recent development of a Walmart and other stores in a strip ma
“This water park will not economically improve the lives of the residents,” stated 21-year- old Florida International University student Ronaldo Cruz while shopping at the Walmart. “Hopefully our county commissioners will hear our cries following the mayor’s urge to relocate the Miami Wilds plan.”
Cruz believes that Miami Wilds was not created for residents of the area, but for the company.
Residents of the area last saw a waterpark when Larry and Penny Thompson Memorial Park opened one, But trouble arose and that water park is currently abandoned. Commissioners are set to make a final vote on Miami Wilds at the Dec.12 county commision meeting.
Opposition to the project grew in September when Ron Magill, the Miami Zoo’s communications director, came forward as a private citizen to voice his concerns about the dangers of building a water park in the zoo’s parking lot. Magill’s tour of the local media and a rally raised awareness of the threats to endangered species foraging in the parking lot proposed for the project.