Soccer’s Melreese lease left waiting on the first tee
A somewhat different Miami City Commission will be deciding the fate of Miami Freedom Park, a planned professional soccer stadium, offices, shopping mall and hotel on Melreese, the city-owned golf course.
Commissioners unanimously voted against a lease presented Tuesday, though talks are to go on.
Tuesday’s meeting was Wifredo “Willy” Gort’s last. Commissioner Manolo Reyes had demanded the administration present a lease for a vote before the term-limited commissioner, whose district includes Melreese, makes way. The district’s run-off election is Nov. 19.
But with land appraisals and environmental and traffic studies pending, commissioners opted for the city to keep negotiating with Miami Freedom Park. A resolution for city to cease negotiations was amended, and unanimously approved, to direct the administration to present either a completed lease or a status update Dec. 12.
During the discussion, commissioners explained why they wouldn’t vote on the lease: Ken Russell said it didn’t address the city’s no-net policy to ensure no green space is lost, and Joe Carollo said his vote rests on the land appraisals.
“If we lose green space on this deal, I’m a ‘no’ vote from here to Sunday,” Mr. Russell said.
As the meeting neared its end, Mr. Reyes moved to no avail to have a new lease agreement added to the Nov. 21 agenda. He has said the administration has deliberately dragged its feet, a claim Mayor Francis Suarez has rebutted and said is the result of the commission deciding to choose the city’s counsel for the negotiations.
“I really wish they had done everything that was possible, and I know that it was done on purpose,” Mr. Reyes said.
Mr. Gort, however, raised the possibility that he could be there Dec. 12 in a different capacity:
“My understanding is… I can come and speak in the public if I have any issue.”