Local Communities Oppose Matheson Hammock Park Marina Development

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An artistic rendition of the park via iPhone on Instagram.

A group of concerned citizens gathered on March 4 at Matheson Hammock to take photos of the beautiful 630-acre park as part of a social media campaign designed to create awareness about a proposed dry dock facility in the marina.

The proposed concrete structure is five stories high at 62,000 square foot capacity for over 300 boats. At issue is the potential for pollution, noise, additional traffic – seabound and vehicular – as well as the destruction of pristine mangrove environments in an environmentally sensitive area.

The proposed project, spearheaded by Aqua Marine Partners, is actually a beautiful building that would work better in a different location, but not at a pedestrian-friendly park already burdened by heavy boating activity.

A NOTE ON LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE

Architect William Lyman Phillips designed Matheson Hammock, Miami-Dade’s first park, which opened in 1930. He also designed adjacent Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens.  Although both of the spaces appear as if mother nature had carved them out of her fancy, in fact, much thought went into the layout of both the park and the gardens.

Phillips was inspired by the three point perspectives, sweeping vistas and intimate corners of the gardens of Versailles in France.  Wherever you see a row of palm trees in symmetrical alignment and experience a sense of wide, open nature or cozy shelters in the mangroves, oak tree fields and palm groves, think of what Phillips had in mind — outdoor spaces for personal enjoyment and no building structures other than small scale, vernacular facilities.

(Note: the park and gardens are separate entities.)

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A photographer exploring the mangrove nature trail.

WHAT NEIGHBORS ARE DOING

To date, over 7,500 people who have signed the petition against the boat storage facility appreciate the current state of Matheson Hammock Park.

Matheson Hammock is a premier site for birding in Miami-Dade County and the only respite from urban congestion in the area.  This section of Coral Gables is free from tall buildings — a truly tropical haven for nature lovers, families, joggers and cyclists. The park boasts a romantic restaurant, Redfish Grill and offers water sports concessions for kiteboarding and paddle boarding.  Numerous nature trails and a stunning picnic area shaded by live oaks draped in Spanish moss make this park paradise up close and personal.

The following communities oppose this development; all have studied the proposed project and some have even met with the developers in community hearings: Gables By the Sea, Pinecrest By the Sea, Old Cutler Bay, Gables Estates, Matheson Hammock Yacht Club, Hammock Oaks, Tahiti Beach, Journey’s End as well as City of South Miami and City of Pinecrest.

WHAT CAN I DO?

There’s still time to prevent this development from going forward.

Sign the petition, send emails or letters to Coral Gables government officials, interact with others on the Facebook page and follow @savemathesonHP on Twitter.

See a video from PHOTO DAY on Vimeo.

Maria de los Angeles is a freelance wordsmith based in South Florida.

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