Category Archives: People

Belle Isle personalities and celebrity sightings

Murder, dead body dumping and Belle Isle

So, file this post under “know your neighbors,” and “interesting people who live on Belle Isle.”

Twenty years ago, a woman was murdered, allegedly by her husband, and her body was dumped in Biscayne Bay.

Yesterday in Miami-Dade criminal court, 9 Island Avenue resident Alan M. Gold revealed how he helped dump the body with the accused murderer, Cliff Friend.

He said they put her body, stuffed into a bag, on a boat at the marina docked behind Gold’s Belle Isle condo and motored out to sea.

We don’t want to spoil the rest of Miami Herald reporter David Ovalle’s amazing story. There more to it, for sure.

We live in an interesting place.

Miami-Dade Transit offers a South Beach Local workaround for Belle Isle

Among the multiple impacts from the deterioration of the Venetian Causeway bridges, new weight limits for the bridge between Belle Isle and Sunset Harbour led Miami-Dade Transit to halt South Beach Local service to Belle Isle.

That’s in addition to curtailing the route and service hours of Route A on Venetian Way.

The South Beach Local is the 25 cent bus ride that connects Belle Isle to Sunset Harbour and rest of South Beach via West Avenue and Washington Avenue. If you don’t have a car and can’t walk long distances, it’s your essential link off the island.

Route A connected Lincoln Road with mainland Miami and the Omni area, but didn’t go into Sunset Harbour. When the bridge emergency surfaced, the county first stopped Route A service, and then restored a truncated route that goes no further west than San Marco Island.

The end result: You can’t bus from Belle Isle to Publix.

So Barbara Cowen got fired up.

Cowen lives in Terrace Tower, 3 Island Ave. She depends on the South Beach Local for trips to Publix and other key points east. The decision to simply cross out the SBL stops on Belle Isle made no sense to her.

She gathered signatures more than 500 signatures from residents and employees of Belle Isle and other affected areas  and presented them to the county. And she got results.

Let her tell the story:

“As a result of 500-plus Belle Isle residents’ and employees’ request for the restoration of low-cost public transportation to Belle Isle, Miami-Dade Transit has reorganized the A bus route that runs along Venetian Way every half hour between 7 and 10 a.m. and between 2 and 6 p.m. to include a stop at Publix eastbound on the way to Meridian Avenue and 17th Street, and westbound from Meridian to San Marco Island. The stop for the A bus going from Belle Isle to Publix is at the bus shelter on the south side of Venetian Way, by the park (and the DecoBike kiosk). The bus stop on the return from Publix is at the bus shelter on the north side of Venetian Way.”

Riders can pick up the South Beach Local at Publix. This isn’t perfect, but it’s an improvement over no service from Belle Isle to Publix. For now, you can take the A bus for free.

And, of course, the work isn’t done, Cowan says. The Route A schedule is limited. The A bus used to run until midnight.

The action moves to Miami Beach City Hall on Wednesday.

Cowan: “The mayor and the commissioners will be discussing the restoration of local transportation services to Belle Isle at the commission meeting on Wednesday, April 30, at 5 p.m. This item has been placed on the agenda in response to the request of 500-plus Belle Isle residents for the pressing need for the return of local, affordable and reliable transportation. Belle Isle residents are urged to attend the meeting.”

Thanks, Barbara!

Belle Isle boil water advisory ends

Make that pot of coffee.

The city of Miami Beach says the boil water advisory for Belle Isle has ended. Testing shows our tap water is safe for drinking and cooking.

The advisory was put in place Monday evening, after a water main break stopped water service to Belle Isle residents.

Belle Isle resident leads the fight against Miami Beach water pollution

Dave Doebler

Dave Doebler

There’s a great profile in today’s Miami Herald of Belle Isle resident David Doebler, who has devoted amazing energy to cleaning debris from Miami Beach’s waterways to keep them — and the city drainage system — clean.

Doebler already has received the key to the city from Miami Beach, and his pesonal crusade has led the Beach to look into cleaning the drains more frequently.

He also put together two Slide Share presentations on all the bad stuff he found in Beach waterways.

Take a look.

Sunset from Belle Isle

These are beautiful, from the Grand Venetian, by Herb Frank. IMAG0784IMAG0786

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Belle Isle scenes from Miami Marathon 2014

The runners came dressed for success

The runners came dressed for success

It was a warm and wonderful Sunday on Belle Isle, and some 25,000 runners crossed our island, pursuing personal milestones. Volunteers gave them water and Gatorade and we cheered them on….(Thanks to Belle Isle’s Steve Neifeld for the photos)

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Getting ready for Miami Marathon Sunday

Scenes from 2013 Miami Marathon

Scenes from 2013 Miami Marathon

We’re in the countdown to Miami Marathon (and Half-Marathon) Sunday.

The big race happens Sunday morning, with a 6 a.m. start downtown near American Airlines Arena downtown. The route should bring the first races (wheelchair competitors) to Belle Isle around 6:45 a.m.

IMG_4636We can expect runners crossing the island and the rest of the Venetian Causeway in a steady stream at least until 9:30 a.m. — 27,000 in all.

Plan ahead — for breakfast at home, or a walk to the story, or better yet, getting up early to go out and cheer the runners.

When runners pass us by, they will be about 8 miles into either a 13.1-mile or 26.2 mile journey. They’d love your support, and they have worked hard for this day.

If you have to leave the island, know you can only go east, and it will be a slow slog…..

 

Hail to the chief — and a Wednesday evening traffic crunch

It’s great to be popular, as long as you can stand the traffic.

Miami Beach is a frequent destination for presidential visitors (the real deal or candidates who want to be).  President Obama is coming to town Wednesday for a fundraiser on the Sunset Islands.

His travel back and forth will take place between 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., and for portions of that time span, there will be delays on the Julia Tuttle Causeway, Alton Road and the general area around the Sunset islands.

If you are coming home across the Tuttle, you might want to consider the Venetian. Or coming home early.

Considered yourself warned.

Planning board considers 17th Street hotel at 5 p.m.; expect a crowd

Rendering of the hotel from the Collins Canal.

Rendering of the hotel from the Collins Canal.

The Miami Beach Planning Board has scheduled a 5 p.m.  hearing on the proposed Marriott Residence Inn on 17th Street and West Avenue.

Expect a big crowd and a lengthy discussion.

The Finvarb Group wants to build a 116-room hotel on the property. It’s a sleek five-story hotel designed by architect Kobi Karp, with 66 parking spaces.

The property, owned by the Miami Beach Housing Authority, is tight, tucked between 17th Street and the Collins Canal, west of the apartment building that houses the Vespa store and other retail, and the Boston Market on Alton Road.

A coalition of neighborhood groups — including the Belle Isle Residents Association, the West Avenue Corridor Neighborhood Association, Venetian Causeway Homeowners Association and six more — are asking the Planning Board to delay approval until the city can better study its impact on traffic. They have also suggested the property should be preserved as green space.

They are urging their members to show up at the meeting wearing red.

In a letter to Planning Board members, BIRA President Scott Diffenderfer said the impact of the planned West Avenue bridge, which will form the west boundary of the hotel property, needs to be considered in the plan, along with the expansion of the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Planning Board members also will hear from supporters of the project, many of whom posted comments during the weekend on BelleIsleBlog. Several praised the design and said a hotel like a Residence Inn — which caters to business travelers and longer stays — would be an amenity to residents who have friends and family visiting. They also argue that the hotel would have less impact on traffic than other businesses that could be built on the property, like a fast food restaurant or a drug store.

In its analysis of the proposal, city of Miami Beach planners recommended approving it, subject to many conditions. The on-site restaurant must be for hotel guests only. The roof-top pool must close by 11 p.m. The hotel has to provide a shuttle for employees who park off-site. And more.

The project still must be scrutinized by the Miami Beach Design Review Board.

17th Street hotel developer to meet with Belle Isle Residents Association

The developers of a Marriott Residence Inn proposed to be built on a sliver of land between 17th Street and the Collins Canal will present plans to members of the Belle Isle Residents Association on Thursday, April 4.

The 116-room hotel is proposed by the Finvarb Group, developer and owner of at least seven Marriott properties across the country, included the Marriott Courtyard on Washington Avenue in South Beach.

The land where the hotel would be built, north of 17th Street between Alton Road and West Avenue, is owned by the Miami Beach Housing Authority. Finvarb has negotiated to buy it, assuming the hotel project is approved by the city.

On March 13, the Miami Beach City Commission relaxed parking requirements for small hotels in the city’s historic district, and added the 17th Street parking to the the more generous rules. That controversial decision was opposed by the Belle Isle Residents Association and the West Avenue Corridor Neighborhood Association.

At the meeting BIRA representatives complained that the city Parking and Transportation Committee was not asked to review the parking policy change, and the hotel project had not been presented to Belle Isle homeowners. Michael Larkin, the lawyer representing Finvarb, said there had been a meeting scheduled with Belle Isle but it was cancelled because of a death in the Finvarb family.

The project still must be approved by the Miami Beach Planning Board.