Proposed Downtown Park Dispute

Man claims city's red tape is threatening new park

An activist in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood is ready to break ground on a much needed urban park. Breaking through the city’s red tape is turning out to be his biggest challenge.

Brad Knoefler says he has invested more than $60,000 in smoothing out a five acre property that is now a giant field of rocks. It’s the same land where the old Miami Arena once stood before it was demolished in 2008.

For the last seven months, Knoefler has tried to get the city’s zoning department onboard with the plan for Grand Central Park, but it’s been tough.

“We just can’t get anything done,” said Knoefler. “All these roadblocks get put in place by different directors and administrators.”

The land is privately owned, so the zoning department is requiring Knoefler to pull 78 Temporary Use Permits for the next three years at an estimated cost of $12,000.

Miami’s zoning administrator Barnaby Min says he’s just enforcing regulations set by the city.

“We encourage the park, we want the park, and I continue to reach out to that whole group as far as a way to try and find a resolution,” Min said in an interview on Thursday.

Min sent another email to Knoefler saying the zoning department may be able to work out a deal, breaking up the $12,000 fees into three separate payments.

Knoefler has architectural drawings showing a vast green space, suitable for hosting concerts and festivals. Lounging in Miami’s urban core is expected to be one of the more popular activities.

But the plans are coming at an unexpected cost.

“We are a non-profit agency, doing a great community project on the cheap,” said Knoefler. “This is not in the budget for the program.”

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