Readers see American Dream as a South Florida nightmare

The American Dream — the megamall, not the national ethos, though one could argue the two are somewhat related — took another step toward reality when the Miami-Dade Planning Advisory Board gave the 6 million square foot project a thumbs up.

We asked readers what they thought of the massive mall, to be built just south of Miramarover the Miami-Dade County line. We did get a few folks who wrote approvingly of the mall’s 14,000 promised jobs — “Build it, put more people to work!!!” emailed Bill Jones — but most readers were not fans.

Along with the promised jobs, we also pointed out some of the criticisms attached to the American Dream — worries of environmental degradation and traffic jams. But for many readers, it was a lack of faith in the project’s success that led to them speaking out against it.

And even the proposed 14,000 jobs drew worry from some.

“I’m very concerned about the economic impact on the current businesses in our area,” said Ryann Greenberg of Pembroke Pines. “Obviously, I want everybody to have a job, but we are at a pivotal point in our state. We’re bringing so many people down to South Florida for jobs that it’s almost creating unsafe conditions with the traffic and everything — look at the hurricane evacuations we had to do back in September. It took 24 hours to get out of the cone. … We need to start thinking about growth strategically, and I don’t think they have a sufficient traffic plan.”

Others cited environmental concerns — the mall would take up some 174 acres of wetlands next to the Everglades — and even proposed more environmentally friendly tourism draws.

“The last thing we need is another mall, especially there,” emailed Tye Culver. “Let's draw tourists by opening up the beaches, cleaning up the waterways and enhancing Florida's natural beauty. That's something we can all benefit from, including nature. Lead the way Miami-Dade! Do something you can really be proud of for a change.”

Still others reflected the slow-growth movement that was a major issue in many local elections this year.

“It’s like jobs are sacrosanct. What about the people who live here? The surrounding communities? The traffic?” emailed Cornelia McNamara. “Way too much development at too high a cost to the environment. Time to limit growth in my opinion. The area is losing all semblance of natural beauty and for what?”

One Twitter user put the ball back in our court — or at least that of the opinion section of the paper.

It’s probably worth pointing out here that the editorial boards of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post, along with WLRN, have all joined forces to produce a climate series, The Invading Sea. Very much worth checking out — it’s not often the three competing papers in South Florida cooperate like this, which gives you some sense of the urgency of the mission.

By Dan Sweeney

Read more: