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Boat Warehouse May Be Built In Matheson Hammock Park

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William J. Matheson opened Matheson Hammock Park on Biscayne Bay in 1930 to "preserve the wild and natural beauty." But all that beautiful nature may finally succumb to Miami development.

According to Save Our Matheson Hammock Park, Miami-Dade County has approved a private company's plan to build a 5-story, 62,000-square-foot boast warehouse in the park.

Even more shockingly, according to the Coral Gables Gazette, is that the chair of Coral Gables' Historic Preservation Board, architect Richard J. Heisenbottle, has been behind the project -- a previous version of which was shot down in 2008.

Opponents to the structure are concerned about an increase in noise pollution and more traffic congestion on the already backed-up Old Culter Road. They also question the extent of the warehouse's impact on the ecosystem, which is rich in mangroves, raccoons, and manatees.

(Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces did not immediately return a request for comment.)

"The methods the promotors have used to try to sneak this thing through will outrage anyone with a sense of community," wrote Gables resident Kathy Newman in a Friday letter to the editor of the Gazette. "I have used and loved that park my whole life and they will destroy it with this plan. Once the thing is approved and the bulldozers start there is no stopping it."

Save Our Matheson Hammock has organized an online petition in an effort to ensure the City of Coral Gables doesn't approve the boat warehouse plans.

Maria Higgins, City of Coral Gables' Public Affairs Manager, confirmed that officials have seen plans for such a structure: "There has been an application for a boat warehouse, which has been reviewed by the Development Review Committee. It is the first step of many steps."