Category Archives: People

Belle Isle personalities and celebrity sightings

Belle Isle donates $1K to Watson Island development fight

The Belle Isle Residents Association has given $1,000 from its legal fund to the organization suing to block a controversial megayacht marina and resort on public land on Watson Island.

The donation was announced at Wednesday’s annual meeting by BIRA President Scott Diffenderfer after a presentation from Roger Craver, one of the leaders of Coalition Against Causeway Chaos.

“We’ve been collecting dues over the last few years to protect our interests,” Diffenderfer said. “The Belle Isle Residents Association believes this is so important we have a $1,000 check for you.”

Craver told the more than 100 residents at the meeting that the proposed development threatens to overwhelm traffic on the already overburdened MacArthur Causeway, impacting the Venetian Causeway as well.

Craver and Stephen Herbits and Sharon Kirby Wynne, who filed the lawsuit, live on the Venetian Causeway. They contend the city renegotiated the 13-year-old deal with developer Flagstone Properties — which has yet to build anything — on terms that violate the city charter and some key conditions in the ballot language voters approved in 2001.

The developer, Flagstone Properties, plans to build a marina, a hotel, shops, restaurants and public spaces, in phases.

“The solution to this problem is active citizens raising holy hell,” said Craver, who referred to the project as the “Watson Island Strangler.”

“We are faced with amazing and terrific traffic gridlock,” Craver said, warning that property values will go down “when people can’t get out of their homes.”

 

Belle Isle Park becomes a nesting place

Friday in Belle Isle Park (photo by Herb Frank)

Friday in Belle Isle Park (photo by Herb Frank)

You must have noticed how our little neighborhood park on Belle Isle has become gathering spot — for stroller-pushing moms and nannys, dog walkers and the occasional tropical bird.

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Traffic double-play: Marathon Sunday morning, Alton Road flyover closure starting Sunday night

Belle Isle Blog loves the Miami Marathon, and our team will be out cheering the runners and snapping photos before dawn to share with all of you.

But we also want to remind Belle Isle and Venetian residents that with the race comes a Sunday morning traffic shutdown that begins about 6 a.m. and lasts as late as 10 a.m. So if you are making plans for brunch — or you need to get off the Beach early — either plan to walk or work around the timeline.

Our best advice, as always, is plan to cheer the runners!

Adding to our traffic trauma this weekend: The flyover bridge from eastbound MacArthur Causeway to northbound Alton Road will be closed starting on Sunday night through through Thursday while the contractor performs a paving operation and conducts bridge work.

Most of us don’t travel this way, but if you do — or your visiting plan to come this way — warn them to avoid the problem.

 

Belle Isle gets ready for the runners; Miami Marathon’s a week away

Miami Marathon runners cross Belle Isle in 2013 race

Miami Marathon runners cross Belle Isle in 2013 raceO

Start the countdown and make your choices:

The Miami Marathon happens next Sunday morning, Jan. 25. If you’re not running, you can get up early and walk out to cheer the runners crossing Belle Isle and Venetian Way, or you can sleep in and wait for the footfalls can crushed cups to be swept away.

But you probably don’t want to make plans that involve driving between about 6 and 9 a.m.

Click for a closer look at the route

Click for a closer look at the route

This year’s race is expected to feature more than 26,000 runners battling the 26.2 mile marathon or 13.1 mile half-marathon distance. They could be from your building or from the other side the world. The event is international, and you’ll people of all shapes and sizes and backgrounds working their way over the route.

If you see them on Belle Isle, they should be feeling pretty good. We’re between Mile 8 and 9 on the race course, so they should be strong.

We’ll be on the street cheering them on, and taking lots of photos to document their hard work.

 

Venetian bridge repair tops agenda for Feb. 10 Belle Isle annual meeting

The closing of the Venetian Causeway west bridge for reconstruction. Changing traffic patterns since the switch to SunPass. What’s next for Alton Road and West Avenue roadwork. Fixing the flooding in Sunset Harbour.

If any of those issues affect or interest you, mark your calendar for Feb. 10. That’s when the Belle isle Residents Association will hold its annual meeting,

Expect those topics and others to be discussed, with representatives from Miami Beach city government, the Florida Department of Transportation and Miami-Dade County on hand to explain what Belle Isle residents can expect in the coming year.

The meeting starts with a social hour at 6 p.m. in the card room at Belle Plaza, 20 Island Avenue.

If there is a topic you’d like to see discussed, email the association at  bira@belleisleresidents.org or call association president Scott Diffenderfer at 305-458-3334.

Belle Plaza introduces lecture series with Jan. 14 talk on “American Shindler”

The folks at the Belle Plaza condominium, 20 Island Ave. are introducing a lecture series with a talk on Wednesday, Jan. 14, about Varian Fry, an American journalist credited with helping to free more than 2,000 Jews from the Nazis in World War II.

The talk starts at 7 p.m. in the card room. It will be led by Belle Plaza residents Diana Pollin and Alain Guyot , who have studied Fry’s life extensively.

Fry was a foreign corresponent for The Living Age, an American journal, and visited Berlin in in 1935 and witnessed and wrote about Nazi abuse against Jews for the New York Times.

He also helped raise money to support European anti-Nazi movements. When the Germans occupied France in 1940, Fry went to Marseille as an agent of the newly formed Emergency Rescue Committee in an effort to help people flee the Nazis.

Pollin and Guyot received The Marseille Provence Cultural Committee prize in 2013 for their work. Their project involved giving a virtual life to the demolished Villa Air Bel where Fry resided and hid the famous artists and writers during his time in Marseille. They are authors of the French language book “La Villa Air-Bel 1940 un phalanstere d’artistes.” Their most recent book, in English, is “Thirty Two Acres of Paradise, Varian Fry at Air-Bel, Marseille.”

 

Miami Beach United launches speaker series

The civic group Miami Beach United is starting a speaker series on what makes a great American city with a debate.

Former Miami Beach Mayor Neisen Kasdin, a prominent land-use lawyer, will debate Adam Kravitz, of counsel with the law firm Becker and Poliakoff. Kravitz is president of the Alton Road Residents Associaton.

The topic: Changing the way we vote on Miami Beach.

It happens at 6 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Miami Beach Community Church, at the corner of Lincoln Road and Drexel Avenue. To RSVP, call 305-609-4288