Saturday, February 11, 2012

Don't Give Up Matheson Hammock to Developers

My Idea of Urban Beach Week ...

UPDATE: Save Matheson Hammock PHOTO DAY scheduled for Sunday, March 4 at 2 PM.


About three weeks ago, I attended a presentation at the exclusive Gables Club condo with the big players behind the Matheson Hammock dry dock development behind the helm. Coral Gables architect Richard Heisenbottle presided with a Powerpoint and lobbyist Dusty Melton was in the room. Front man Nick Buoniconti was there too, as well opposition activist Charles Girtman and a handful of residents and boat slip owners.

I intended to write a more investigative journalist piece on this issue. I took over 10 pages of notes. But it's impossible for me to not get personal. I'm exhausted too and at the end of the day, I'm only going to write from my heart.

I will, however, give you my take-away and my bottom line: It's not about this boat warehouse facility, it's about where it could be built.

And it certainly isn't about the common good. This is about money in developer's pockets. And if developers can be selfish, so can I.


Stillness is Serenity

I don't have children. I have no legacy. But I do have Matheson Hammock Park.

I have the wily raccoons that greet me when I walk through the marina uninterrupted and unthreatened by fork lifts.

I have the clank, clank of ropes against the masts of sailboats, with the sound of nothing else, which I dearly love.

I have the sound of that crazy parrot that chirps like mad during twilight. I think it lives on someone's boat.

I have feral blue and gold macaws flying overhead, speaking of birds.

I have breathtaking moonrises.

I have the memories of fishing for reds or bones with light tackle, wading in the south end of the park.

I have the thrilling anticipation that I might see a crocodile on said wading beach. Just maybe. Please!

I have the herons and gallinules and seagulls and pelicans and terns I have come to consider quiet friends in my afternoon walks.

I have the myriad of tidal variations I have observed day to day while circling the lagoon on foot. No day or hour is ever the same at Matheson Hammock Park.

I have the memories of romantic picnics.

I have the boundless variations of light that each glorious sunset brings with Matheson's palm trees to frame my blessed view of the universe.

I have the sound of manatees and dolphins coming up for air.

I have the sweet yet musky smell of mangroves, not the smell of diesel and oil.

I have the memory of an alligator that I once photographed in the pond.

I have the experience of walking under the moss-covered oak trees, which is always magical.

I have the peace, quiet and serenity that makes this park a respite from Miami's hectic energy.

For pete's sake, Matheson Hammock is one of the reasons I moved back to South Miami after living in the concrete jungle of Miami Beach.

Matheson Hammock is living, breathing poetry for me. Matheson Hammock has me.


The Sexiest Twilight

Matheson is mine. It's yours. It's ours. It belongs to all of us. We all "have" it. Do you really want to hand over such a huge chunk of it to a private developer? Bring in a project like this and no matter what you argue, it aint gonna be the same.

So no, Nick Buoniconti, when you talked about capitalism and how "it's just like building an ice cream parlor," it's not. How can you compare this enormous marina structure to a simple concession stand? Would that it were only ice cream!

Building this boat facility in Matheson Hammock Park reminds me of Werner Herzog's brilliant movie Fitzcarraldo -- a dreamer tycoon who dragged a steamship across a steep hill in the Amazon in order to reach a rubber plantation so he could make enough money to build an opera house in the middle of nowhere. Bad idea in the wrong place.

Opera house? Sure, why not? Just not there. And at what environmental cost.

You get my point. So much hubris and not enough respect for the simple nature of this place that is practically sacred to so many of us. We kept the Icon Brickell from smothering Miami Circle. Why can't developers draw the line?

As I sat through Heisenbottle's presentation, I kept thinking the proposed building would look great in an already urbanized boating community such as Barcelona in Northern Spain. But not Matheson. No way. Far from it.

The building is supposed to have special artsy lighting at night. Why? The park closes at sunset. Something like that would work at Museum Park in downtown Miami not at Matheson.

I ask that all citizens who love the integrity of Matheson Hammock to oppose this development. And I respectfully request that the developers take their idea to another location. Again, it's not about the building itself, it's about where it's proposed. I'm an architect's daughter and I love the idea of great new buildings. Just not here. Matheson Hammock marina does need some improvements but not in this order of magnitude.


Please join me on Sunday, March 4 for a Matheson Hammock Photo Day where we'll capture the natural beauty of this park. Instagramers, hop on board! Maybe we could even get a naturalist from History Miami to give us a tour.

Stay tuned. Want to help? Sign the petition. Follow and use the #savematheson tag on Twitter. And check out the SAVE OUR MATHESON HAMMOCK Facebook community page.

What are your memories of Matheson Hammock? Please share in comments.


Bob Bishopric said...

I remember as a young boy my mother taking us three boys to Matheson. This would have been about '57-'60. We would go in the morning, play all day. There was a hot dog/hamburger stand where the Redfish Grill restaurant is now. The roof of the building was open and accessible with wide stairs leading up. You could go up there and see the whole lagoon and Biscayne Bay. My wife and I were married ten years ago at Matheson. We were planning to have a ceremony by the lagoon, but it poured rain that day and we did the wedding in the private room at Redfish Grill. We still go back every year for our anniversary and at least once a month go to watch the sun set over the lagoon and the moon rise above Key Biscayne. I believe that it would be an enormous shame to develop the park with a big, commercial boat storage facility. A large part of the magic is the low-key nature of the place. Perhaps reason will prevail and this will not happen. I surely hope so.

Anonymous said...

I remember going there as a five year old, and it was even better than Crandon Park!!! It was your own private beack. You and a close 25 friends. Driving there was an adventure, going thru the mangroves, (or jungle), a child's mind does wonderful things. Matheson, to me will always be the quite place, where one could think, driff off to neverneverland, or just enjoy the sounds. Matheson is special, it's not your typical beach, it has life of it's own. I beg you, please don't take this away.

Anonymous said...

I have not known Matheosn for a very long time but I like it and I feel its fragility. That is why it is charming, that is why it is an easy prey for developpers, that is why we need to care for it. STRONGLY ~