Grove residents protest Gables trolley garage
COCONUT GROVE, Fla. (WSVN) -- A new trolley parking garage in a South Florida community is under construction, but some say the project is already off track.
Residents in Coconut Grove fear the impact the garage will have on their neighborhood, even though the trolley will not serve any of that city's residents. The construction located in the heart of West Coconut Grove has created quite the controversy.
The building is slated for completion in 2014 and will house the trolleys used in Coral Gables. "It is a disgrace," said Cheryl Jackson. "We don't need this here."
The current trolley garage in Coral Gables on LeJeune is being replaced by condominiums. The developer made a deal with the City of Coral Gables that they would build the new garage on land they had in Miami's Coconut Grove neighborhood. "Nobody from the City of Coral Gables, not the commissioner, not the mayor asked the residents how they felt about it," said Jackson. "They just built it."
The people who have been living in the area for more than two decades call it a disgrace that big business and big politics have steamrolled the voice of residents. They said they were never consulted.
This controversy hit a crescendo in Coral Gables City Hall last week. Commissioner Ralph Cabrera was concerned the City of Coral Gables did not do enough to reach out to Coconut Grove residents.
Reporter: "What would you say to people who say this is unfair? The residents of Coconut Grove said they were never advised, they were never spoken to about this, and all of a sudden, there's a garage for trolleys that aren't even used in their city."
Coral Gables City Manager Pat Salerno: "I'll let the City Attorney answer some of those questions. But with respect to the trolley, the trolley route begins across the street from the Coconut Grove community."
Coral Gables Commissioner Ralph Cabrera is upset about the way this issue has been handled. "The city did nothing to reach out to this community," said Cabrera. "To me, it's a sign of disrespect and a lack of sensitivity."
The residents of Coconut Grove believe they should have been consulted. Although the matter was agreed upon in city hall in Coral Gables months ago, according to the City Attorney, this may not be a done deal. "At this point, we've let the developer know that they have to address these concerns," said Craig Leen, "and that they have to be in the position to present us a legal building."
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