Students and residents in Allapattah are urging city leaders to save the Miami neighborhood's library from development projects in the area.
A group of Miami Jackson Senior High School students, along with the Allapattah Collaborative, have launched a petition to preserve the Allapattah Library at 1799 NW 35th Street.
“When I would come to the library I would have time to myself. Nobody would bother me, it was very safe in there, I felt secure,” said Chelsea Hercules, a student at Miami Jackson High.
In September, Miami commissioners voted to terminate the county library system’s lease for the Allapattah site and approved a no-bid development deal.
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A non-profit housing developer, Saint James Community Development Corp., is expected to build at least 150 apartments that qualify as workforce or affordable housing.
In a letter this week, the City of Miami told Miami-Dade County officials that the lease extension for the Allapattah Library is up on Dec. 8.
“I think that this is something that came as a surprise to the library system, came as a surprise to the students,” said Mileyka Burgos-Flores, CEO of the Allapattah Collaborative.
Burgos-Flores feels members of the community should have been consulted before the vote took place.
“These are the things where the community should be asked first, where they should be included in the process first hand before any land is distributed,” said Burgos-Flores.
Fernando Salgado says he heavily relied on the resources at Allapattah library to get schoolwork done.
“My sophomore year I would always come to this library to do my projects, to just hang out with my friends, and to see it go like that is just very tragic,” said Salgado.
Many in the community also feel the library is a safe haven for youth to stay out of trouble.
“I think the library itself has a lot of programs and different things that they do within the library where you keep the kids engaged and you are using that energy that creative energy they have into positive things,” said Burgos-Flores.
NBC 6 contacted Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla, who is the commissioner for this district, as well as Saint James Community Development Corp. for comment, but we have not received a response.
NBC 6 inquired whether or not plans for the new development include a public library.
A spokeswoman for Miami-Dade Public Library System says the county is open to having discussions with the City of Miami about the future of the library and/or alternate sites.