When will we fix Matheson Hammock?

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This is usually an art column, but this one is about the art of ugliness and neglect. These times provoke unprecedented anger and frustration yielding this refrain: how did we get here? My question is this: if government is the problem, not the solution, who is charged to solve our public issues? Citizens deserve parks, gardens, beaches, playgrounds, and other places where we can escape the dusty couch and the remote, isolated, Netflix-addicted, 24 hour ESPN/cable news lives we have oddly surrendered to.

Perhaps you do not feel the anger I am referring to, or equally possible, you assume it refers merely to something political. Yes, nearly everything – anger over the climate, traffic, guns, education, fake news, or simply foul discourse – is driving us to the edge. How the greatest country in the history of the world got here is beyond me, yet there is something we need to address.

The decal on the car says Miami-Dade County: Delivering Excellence Every Day, but if this is serious, how can that million dollar walk around Matheson Hammock still be closed? I have no idea how things work or how things are supposed to work, but you don’t need to be a genius to see that they don’t work. Matheson’s condition is a disgrace, and there is no excuse, yet where there’s a will, there’s a way, so fix it! Our famous Matheson atoll view is precious, and therefore, we must treat it as if it is special. It is in local DNA to take in-laws from Michigan on a loop which includes it. Would you fix it?

This rant includes contempt and disrespect for what we allow the public sector to suffer and endure. Miami’s system of parks, compared to any other city in the USA, ranks as an embarrassment. New York, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, San Francisco, etc. all have massive city/county parks. The Trust For Public Land’s 2014 City Parks Report shows how our abysmal Miami park system lags behind other high-density cities in the parkland we provide per 1,000 residents. Matheson Hammock has 462 acres we cannot manage to get together. New York’s Central Park has almost double that. Why can’t we fix it?

Nearly every other country of similar means has a devotion to public spaces which we forfeit in order to do what, privatize? In an area so beautiful, in a neighborhood so flush with cash, in a marina with million dollar yachts and state of the art vessels, how can you feel so little for the masses who frequent Matheson Hammock with kids and sun cream, bikes and strollers, and simply wish to take a walk? I cannot fathom how inept government can be, how ineffective leaders can be to stomach inactivity so glaring. Don’t abandon it or turf it out to some private entity; this is public space – fix it!

We pay taxes. If they are too low, raise them. We pay entrance fees. How can there be no money? Where is the progress? Who is responsible? Who is in charge? Is it local? Is it the county? Is it the state? The parking system is collecting from PayByPhone. Charge them. Do we have to blame Rick Scott? Doesn’t anyone care for the miserable quality of what was once a jewel in our crown? Where is the pride? How do we allow this treasure to remain neglected? Fix it!

If ever there existed a simple, solvable problem that had a right and a need to get solved, this is it. Why do we care so little about the beauty that beautifies this beautiful vista. Where is the spirit of Peter Finch, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”?

This is usually an art column, but this one will have to be about the beauty of anger and frustration. We deserve a beautiful Matheson Hammock. Fix it.


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