Paving paradise: Another Miami park gets the concrete treatment

125

A city predisposed to paving paradise is at it again, this time giving the concrete treatment to a soothing pocket of bayfront green called E. Albert Pallot Park.

Is a park still a park if one-quarter of the land is covered by pavement, if the grass is buried under a hard, gray slab, if the shoreline is bordered by what looks like an airport runway?

Dismayed neighbors of the three-acre oasis located two blocks east of Biscayne Boulevard at Northeast 38th Street and just north of the Julia Tuttle Causeway ramps don’t understand why improvements to the park are turning it into something they don’t recognize. They’re uneasy that the area’s signature piece of public art will be a 10-foot tall sculpture that memorializes its prime developer, the late Jose Milton, who was sued for housing discrimination.

“The park needed a manicure, not plastic surgery,” said Ana Cristina Desa, who lives nearby and visits the park twice daily with her dog, Panda. “It feels very artificial. Miami already lacks parks and trees and now we’re subtracting from our green space. Every time I look at it my heart gets smaller.”

Neighbors are broiling mad, too, as they realize how painfully polarizing the 30- to 40-foot-wide swath of concrete by the seawall will be on hot and sunny days, like a sizzling griddle. They don’t want to fry an egg. They want to sit on the ground, enjoy the view of Biscayne Bay and absorb the breeze. Even more concrete is being poured to create broad perimeter and central walkways.

“They’ve installed a giant hot plate and removed the shoreline trees that provided shade so that no one will want to step foot there,” said Geoffrey Bash, who lives on Northeast 39th Street. “This pavement is also a canvas for graffiti artists. I guarantee it will be covered with spray paint.

“The amount of concrete is totally out of proportion to the size of the park. This isn’t the Lincoln Road Mall promenade.”

Neighbors Geoffrey Bash and Elizabeth Kristin on the waterfront strip at Pallot Park.

LINDA ROBERTSON lrobertson@miamiherald.com