Category Archives: People

Belle Isle personalities and celebrity sightings

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 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

New restaurant opens in Costa Brava, and Belle Isle residents get a break

We have a new restaurant on Belle Isle.

It’s in the Costa Brava condominium, 11 Island Ave., and it’s open to the public.

It’s open Tuesday through Sunday to eat in and take out, and features a Bistro-style menu. Lunch hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner is 6-10 p.m. It offers Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For lunch there are salads, crepes, Panini sandwiches, tacos  as well as pasta, fish and meat dishes in the $6-$10 range. Dinners run $12-$28. Take a look at the menu.

Costa Brava community association manager Maria Mijares says it is run by Thierry Bossa, a French chef who previously owned La Cigale restaurant on Biscayne Boulevard.

Mijares says Belle Isle residents will get a 10 percent discount if they mention they learned about the restaurant in the Belle Isle Blog. (we are blushing in Blogland).

There are two other dining options on Belle Isle: the fine waterfront restaurant at the Standard, and the House Cafe at 9 Island Avenue (open Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. for dinner). The House Cafe is open for dining to 9 Island residents, and delivers throughout Belle Isle.


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!