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New Virginia Key Trust will be accountable for restoration of historic Black beach

A cyclist rolls past a plot of land between the Virginia Key Outdoor Center and the mountain bike course at North Point.

Posted on November 7, 2022

Historic Virginia Key Beach’s current condition is unacceptable. It is neither a cultural destination, nor exemplary recreational space for families to enjoy as envisioned by the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust.

I am honored to accept the responsibility of championing the vision of the Trust and committed to restoring what was once the “colored only” beach.

The fight to restore the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust has received a lot of misguided attention from the media, including the Miami Herald’s editorial with the headline “Miami’s disrespectful takeover of Virginia Key Beach Trust is sudden — and suspect,” and a column, “Commission cheats Black Miamians.” I wholeheartedly understand the historical significance of Virginia Key Beach and why some feel that only Black people should be a part of its governance.

I also understand people’s mistrust of the Miami City Commission. What I do not understand is why the members of the Black community demanding the Trust be restored have not also demanded more progress for the beach’s restoration with the same fervor.

It has been 18 years since the voters of Miami-Dade County approved funds to “construct and improve cultural, library and multicultural educational facilities.” Yet we are no further along in restoring the historic beach or building a Black museum than we were in 2004. There is not much you can do at the beach right now including enjoying the water. Who is being held accountable for this?

Members of the Trust have said, “We did not have support.” For 18 years? There is an annual budget of $869,000 for staff that includes three consultants. Miami provides hundreds of thousands of dollars to aid the Trust in its mission. I would argue that the city has supported the Trust. It is disingenuous of the Trust to blame its woes on the Miami Commission’s decision to be more accountable for the restoration of this treasured beach.

The terms of every Trust member, except one, have expired. If the City Commission wanted to be disrespectful, it could have, without much fanfare, removed members of the Trust as was provided for in the previous legislation and appointed new members without changing the number of Trust members.

If the commission adopted that option, the Trust could easily have been six Hispanic members, or seven, if you include the mayor’s appointment. Let’s be clear: If that were the will of the body, there is no question, the votes would be present to make it so.

Instead of choosing that option, the commission named the only Black commissioner as chair of the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust and gave the chair two appointments, who most certainly will be Black. That is not a takeover.

I voted for what I know to be the right decision for our historic Black beach and the community. I voted for progress.

Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami share the responsibility of this vision becoming a reality. Both the county and city are committed to the restoration of the historic Black beach. For the first time in more than 20 years the county and city commissioners who represent the area have an amicable relationship. They have pledged to work together to bring this long-standing vision to reality.

The community has waited long enough for results.


Miami City Commissioner Christine King represents District 5.


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