Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez threw down the gauntlet on the Formula One issue Friday, vetoing of a measure meant to provide oversight of racing.
Miami Gardens officials and community leaders responded to the measure, pledging that the fight against F1 did not end with the mayor’s veto.
“Our community often feels the fight is over when they hear the mayor vetoing our commissioners resolution,” Betty T. Ferguson said from lectern, at a Friday afternoon press conference in the courtyard of Miami Gardens City Hall. “We don’t want them to think the fight is over. It’s important that they know this fight is going to go on even though the mayor vetoed the resolution.”
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Gimenez says he supports Formula One in Miami Gardens as long as both the community and sponsors of the race come to an agreement. The Dolphins and F1 have an understanding. But they have yet to reach one with members of the local community who consider dumping the race in their neighborhood environmental racism.
Filed by County Commissioner Barbara J. Jordan, the vetoed resolution would have halted temporary closures of roads next to residential neighborhoods for the sake of a race until the Board of County Commissioners gets to vote.
The resolution would also have mandated the sponsors of a race conduct an air, noise and traffic study, and for the mayor to make sure county commissioners have the results to vote on the road closure. Currently, the County’s Transportation & Public Works Department determines whether a road is closed.
After hours of public hearings, County Commissioners told Formula One advocates not so fast …
“This legislation would prohibit the Formula 1 race from taking place in its current form,” Gimenez wrote in a message with the veto. “And while I remain sensitive to residents’ concerns in Miami Gardens, I believe it is premature to attempt to block an event of the magnitude of Formula 1 outright.”
Gimenez also picked apart a report from the Office of the Commission Auditor about F1 in Miami-Dade County, and asked the Board of County Commissioners to investigate how the report was developed.
Gimenez wrote in a memo related to the veto: The County’s Division of Environmental Resources Management never reviewed it, information from an air quality scientist was missing, the report about F1 “falls short” of the requirements of the commission auditor to provide “objective, independent, professional analysis.”
The missing information was that the monitoring network of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality “has not shown any adverse effects attributable to F1.” The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is headquartered in Austin, where F1 races are held during the city’s 10-year contract.
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F1 in Austin takes place in the Circuit of the Americas, over 14 miles from the city itself; there are no residential neighborhoods near the race track.
A F1 event lasts three days and takes at least two hours per day. There is also set up for the track and qualifying races. The races would take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday annually for 10 years and start May 2021.
“This isn’t over,” Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver G. Gilbert III said. “The conversation is actually just beginning. The concerns that were raised by the citizens don’t go away because of a veto. The noise, the traffic congestion, those things still exist.”
Ferguson said race sponsors should consider putting the racetrack in Homestead.
As a former employee of both Hard Rock Stadium and the Miami Dolphins, where I served in sev…
“We feel there are other locations they should take a look at, especially the area of Homestead. There’s a racetrack there. What can be done to work with the Homestead racetrack and maybe reconfigure that race track? It’s not in the middle of a bedroom community.”
Ferguson had commissioned a sound engineer who gave a presentation stating F1 races generate decibel levels loud enough to cause pain and permanent hearing loss. There are residential neighborhoods near the stadium.
Ferguson implored county commissioners who voted 'no' to consider the effect of the race on the people of Miami Gardens.
“We’re asking the full Board of County Commissioners to please take a look at what’s happening to us in this community,” Ferguson said.
Stephen Ross and representatives of Formula One racing never anticipated the level of opposi…
‘WHERE ARE THE ENVIRONMENTALISTS?’
With the mayor’s veto issued, Jordan will have to sway her colleagues who voted against her resolution; it passed 8-5.
Jordan echoed Ferguson’s sentiments about what the Miami Dolphins and F1 are offering the community as residents determine what they could approve.
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“While we are going to come together and have meetings and talk about where there may be concessions, there is an agreement between the Miami Dolphins and F1," Jordan said. "They can move forward while we’re still talking.”
A meeting of all three was held Tuesday morning.
Jahdiel Murray, 25, also stood in support of his fellow Miami Gardens residents.
“The city is rising up, fighting back, making it known all concerns are important to residents and shouldn’t be taken lightly,” Murray said to The Miami Times.
Ferguson told The Miami Times that F1 racing in Miami Gardens is environmental racism.
“Unwanted developments of all types fall on minority communities and we’re a minority community.”
Jordan wondered aloud about the environmentalists.
“Where are the environmentalists?” she asked The Miami Times. “Sierra Club, Audubon Society and other environmental organizations speaking out about this race.”
Poisonous dust particles, ear damaging noise, traffic inconveniences and road closures are o…
Jordan and Gilbert are not against F1 but want it to take place somewhere else in the county.
“I’d like to see the race go someplace else,” Gilbert said.
“I’m not trying to stop F1 in Miami-Dade County. I’m not tone deaf to people who would like to have a race,” Jordan said. “We have to find the appropriate venue.”
The Dolphins have offered the community $1 million for park renovations each year, guaranteed $25 tickets to Miami Gardens residents with proof of address, paid internships to students who live in or attend classes in Miami Gardens, an annual job fair and an estimated $423 million in spending related to F1.
The Dolphins would also bring to Miami Gardens the F1 in Schools World Championship in which students build and race miniature F1 cars.
If it were up to some Miami Gardens residents, the only racing Formula One cars would be doi…
Ferguson said the over 30 years of dealing with the Dolphins makes it hard to trust what is not in writing and what she has heard does not address the community’s environmental concerns.
“We’ve been dealing with these people for so long we don’t trust anything they just say,” she said. “No community benefit package addresses our issue of noise pollution and air pollution.
“I see that as a diversionary tactic to say that they have offered a community benefit package. I see that as an attempt to not talk about our main issue which is air pollution and noise pollution. And they certainly haven’t put anything in writing about that.”