I was a member of the mediation board for the Met Square/Tequesta site last week. I was asked (as UM’s Director of the Institute for Public HIstory) by Comm. Marc Sarnoff to be involved in trying to find a solution. I felt then and now that the City’s Hep Board’s decisions should have been allowed to be played out for such a momentous decision but I also thought it was important for me, when asked, to be involved in forging a solution that did not totally eviscerate the site- which was and is possible.
I did not personally sign the final agreement (it was signed by the city and the developer) but there was an overwhelming majority of the mediation group that did agree to it in principle.
I had and still have some significant reservations. In my view the entire site should have been saved for archaeological and historical purposes. It is that important for our identity and sense of place. It would have also provided needed public space for downtown Miami residents.
The problems were political, legal and financial. Who would come up with the $100 million (who knows how much) to pay for it? The city? the state? The federal govt? A private philanthropist? The Seminoles? I doubted it then and now though I continue to wish some such entity would step up. Who would pay for a lawsuit? It appeared that the City of Miami Commission might well be cowed by threats of lawsuits. So in one sense it became a sad bargain. I also did not see a broad public outcry (similar to the Miami Circle) that could have made a political difference. Maybe it could still happen but I doubt it. There was much hidden in the process (lack of adequate reports on a timely basis) that hopefully will come out later.
So I have very mixed feelings about the result. We saved some of the site (under the building for future archaeological examination) and several circles and a plaza. We also forged an agreement that the interpretation would be done by a consortium of participants – not simply HistoryMiami which had never spoken out in favor of the site to the Hep Bd – so that a broader array of experts can become involved.
So the public should weigh in on this process as it sees fit. I am saddened by the inattention of the public in relation to such momentous matters (in stark contrast to the shameful attention given David Beckham and his stadium on the evening news on March 14) but it fits with the weak news media coverage we receive (though Andres VIglucci- did a relatively fair and credible job in reporting this issue for the Herald.) Where was TV, radio or other political leaders in weighing in on the Met Square Tequesta issue? Our past
seems not to matter much to our political leaders. We appear to be a rather placeless place- beach, sun celebrities, and endless disposable buildings with little regard to where we have come from. I try to remain hopeful and involved in the process – however limited it may be. Others should speak up as they choose -before the city commission meeting on March 27.