Miami Mini Park to Ward Off More Sex Offenders

Park created to keep sex offenders from moving into neighborhood

By Ari Odzer and Brian Hamacher
|  Monday, Apr 16, 2012  |  Updated 8:46 PM EDT
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Sex Offender Success Story

Ari Odzer/NBCMiami.com

The "Little River Pocket Park" could keep more sex offenders from moving into a Miami neighborhood.

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Miami Mini Park To Ward Off More Sex Offenders

It may not look like much, but a new park built on an empty lot in Miami may keep sex offenders out of the area. The "Little River Pocket Park," on NE 10th Avenue just south of 79th Street, was created by Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff to do just that. Sarnoff said he learned about the small patch of land from homeowners concerned about a dozen sexual offenders who spend their nights on a nearby sidewalk. Last month, commissioners voted to sue the Florida Department of Corrections, after some of the offenders said they were told to live there by their probation officers. The department denies the claim. "You can't be within a thousand feet of a park under state statute, so they (DOC) can no longer drop off any sexual offenders, predators, on 10th Avenue and 79th Street," Sarnoff said. "This park we've created has children's equipment so it's gonna preclude the state from dropping them off there and using us as a dumping ground."

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It's moving day under the Julia Tuttle Causeway as the sex offender encampment is broken up
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It may not look like much, but a new park built on an empty lot in Miami may keep sex offenders out of the area.

The "Little River Pocket Park," on NE 10th Avenue just south of 79th Street, was created by Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff to do just that.

Sarnoff said he learned about the small patch of land from homeowners concerned about a dozen sexual offenders who spend their nights on a nearby sidewalk.

Last month, commissioners voted to sue the Florida Department of Corrections, after some of the offenders said they were told to live there by their probation officers. The department denies the claim.

"You can't be within a thousand feet of a park under state statute, so they (DOC) can no longer drop off any sexual offenders, predators, on 10th Avenue and 79th Street," Sarnoff said. "This park we've created has children's equipment so it's gonna preclude the state from dropping them off there and using us as a dumping ground."

A county law says the offenders cannot live within 2,500 feet of a school or any other area where children are known to congregate.

There is barely anything in the new park at the moment. In fact, neighbor Paul Anderson said, "I've seen Third World countries with parks better than this."

"It would be nice if they fixed it up, put in some benches, maybe a paved path, something that makes it look like a park instead of a little swamp," he said.

Sarnoff said "the parameters of a park" have been created in three days.

"We're gonna sod it, put more equipment there, it's going to be a real park," he promised.

City officials say a state law allows offenders already living in an area to stay if a park is created after they move in, but Sarnoff said he created the park to keep more from moving into the area.

At Sarnoff's request, the city has notified corrections officials about the park's existence.

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