Miami-Dade Superintendent stands up for kids and against developers who disrespect schools

At today’s #AskMiamiSup Twitter chat, Miami Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho was asked what he and others can do to prevent the construction of a six-pump WAWA gas station less than 300 feet from George Washington Carver Elementary School.

His answer couldn’t have been more emphatic.

“We stand with parents and the community against the infringements on school areas and zones,” he wrote from his @MiamiSup account.

Carvalho’s comments seemed to crystallize the concerns of more than 300 parents and residents who have rallied behind a lawsuit by the Gables Accountability Project (GAP) against the City of Coral Gables, WAWA and the developer for a poorly conceived project that threatens one of Miami’s most diverse neighborhoods and poses numerous health and safety hazards. Among them:

  • An increase in toxic fumes that disavows EPA recommendations against locating schools within 1,000 feet of gas stations.
  • An increase in traffic that threatens child safety at a widely used crosswalk that is adjacent to where motorists and delivery trucks will be turning into the WAWA during school
  • The sale of beer and wine that sidesteps Coral Gables Zoning Code (Section 5-702) banning the sale of alcoholic beverages within 500 feet of Sugary foods will also be sold.
  • A step backward for a traditionally underserved community that has been fighting the twin forces of overdevelopment and government neglect for years.

Superintendent Carvalho’s statement complements a commitment made recently by Miami- Dade County Public Schools to rely 100% on clean energy by 2030.

The School Board in November also passed a resolution, sponsored by District 6 Member Maria Teresa Rojas, requiring developers to notify the Superintendent’s office by certified mail of any planned commercial development that is to be built within 1,000 feet of a public school.

The WAWA project arose from a legal settlement forged in 2017 by the City of Coral Gables with the developer that explicitly waived all public hearings regarding the use of what was County-owned land originally designated for affordable housing. Despite the City’s involvement since 2015 in litigation about development of the 1.7-acre site, neither Carver Elementary School, its Principal nor the School Board were ever informed of the plans until after decisions were taken and the appeals period was over.

The project is located at the entrance to the MacFarlane Homestead district, which is on the National Register of Historic Places for its singular role as the destination for pioneering immigrants from the Bahamas who built Miami. The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation last year named the district one of the “most-threatened” properties in the state as a result of uncontrolled development and neglect. Two gas stations sit a block from the proposed WAWA.

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