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22 July 2007
Funds scarce for Miami Circle seawall

One month after a section of the seawall protecting the ancient Miami Circle (Florida, USA) collapsed, legislators and an Indian shamen called for state funds to repair the damage and open the site to the public. "I beg of you," said Catherine Hummingbird Ramirez, a Carib Indian descendant, during a news conference at the site, in downtown Miami. "If you feel something in your heart - whatever help you need to get this going - don't wait anymore."
     Taxpayers bought the 38-foot circle, carved into the limestone bedrock 2,000 years ago by now-extinct Tequesta Indians, for $26.7 million eight years ago. It was made of 28 basin holes dug into the limestone. Scientists have speculated the circle might have been anything from a calendar to a sacrifice site to an ancient dump.
     Construction on a temporary seawall began last week, but a permanent fix will cost at least $1.4 million, said Frank Tejidor, an engineer with Bermello Ajamil, the firm working on the plan. But that money couldn't be found in the state's last budget. More than a dozen groups - including federal, state and local officials, scientists and Native Americans - have weighed in with plans to develop the site since it was discovered. Eventually, the site might offer a visitors' center and a riverwalk. But funding has always been scarce, and progress slow. "Replacing the seawall is a first step on the road to making this special site accessible to the public," said Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, flanked by State Representative Luis Garcia. "I never expected repair would take this long," said Representative Garcia.
     The site remains a sunburnt patch of grass. The circle itself was covered by a protective layer of limestone in 2003. Partial funding may come through a program of the Florida Inland Navigation District, which manages the Intracoastal. And Sterling Ivey, a spokesman for the Florida Department of State, which oversees the state's archaeological sites, said another budget request would be submitted at next year's legislative session.

Source: Miami Herald (21 July 2007)

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