The notion that the park on Belle Isle could host a playground while Maurice Gibb Memorial Park undergoes renovation received a mostly negative response from Belle Isle residents who attended a community meeting Thursday night.
The Miami Beach Parks Department posed the question to the Belle Isle Residents Association, which invited residents to give the city feedback during an association board meeting at Belle Plaza, 20 Island Ave.
“I wanted them to hear directly from residents” about the proposal, BIRA president Scott Diffenderfer told the roughly 30 residents who showed up. “This is literally to hear your input.”
What the two Miami Beach parks representatives heard was mostly against the idea. Some said the playground would be too noisy. Others said itt would attract too much traffic in an area that lacks parking. The dogs and the children would be a bad combination, one resident said.
Some of the concerns ventured into the bizarre. One resident said the playground would attract children, and the children would “attract sexual offenders.” (We are not making this up).
The one attendee who spoke out in favor of temporarily moving the equipment pointed out that when Maurice Gibb Park closes for renovations, “people are going to come to the park with their kids anyway,” because it will be the closest available open space for parents in the Belle Isle/Sunset Harbour area.
Cindy Casanova, assistant director of Miami Beach’s Parks and Recreation Department, told residents: “We know there is no appetite for this from anyone here, which is something we needed to hear.”
(UPDATE: There is an effort on Facebook to encourage parents who couldn’t attend the meeting to let the city know they do support the playground move.Parents are urged to email Casanova at firstname.lastname@example.org).
She said the city has no plan to move the equipment to Belle Isle if residents don’t want it.
Diffenderfer said he had approached developer Bradley Colmer, whose company is seeking to build a mixed-use project across from Maurice Gibb park, so see if he would consider temporarily making his property available for the equipment until his development gets city approval and construction can begin. Right now, the proposal is stalled before the city commission.
Diffenderfer said Colmer is”open” to the idea. Casanova said the city would reach out to him.