|22 August 2009
Ground broken for new park at ancient Miami Circle
The Miami Circle, the 2,000-year-old Native American site that taxpayers shelled out $27 million to buy 10 years ago, may finally open to the public under a frugal state plan that would create a low-key park around the ancient landmark. The $750,000 plan calls for a paved promenade around the 2.2-acre site at the mouth of the Miami River, a drop-off circle for school buses and cars, modest landscaping and lighting and a few interpretive signs.
The circle itself - a carving in the limestone that archaeologists believe supported a structure with ceremonial uses - will remain invisible for now because the state has neither a plan nor the money to display it yet. Instead, stones would mark the circumference of the circle, which is protected under several layers of fill. The future is now for the three Miami museums that will transform downtown's bayfront Bicentennial Park from vacuous public space to community cultural campus by 2013. "It's difficult to know who you are today or who you should be in the future if you don't know where you came from," Miami Mayor Manny Diaz said.
Architectural designs and construction plans are in the works; contracts with public agencies are under negotiation, and private donations are being raised to match the public dollars that will share the costs for two new buildings to house Miami Art Museum on the waterfront and Miami Science Museum and the Historical Museum of Southern Florida next door on Biscayne Boulevard. Miami commissioners passed several votes that they hope will trigger a transformation of the downtown waterfront the city has sought for decades.
Archaeologists believe the 38-foot-wide limestone circle's carvings were postholes for a round structure built by the Tequesta, Miami's original inhabitants. The sacred site was discovered in 1998, when a 1950s building was demolished to make room for a modern high-rise. A public outcry led county and state officials to purchase the land the following year.
Source: The Miami Herald (15 August 2009)
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