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Date: Wed, 1 Dec 1999 00:39:51 -0400
Sender: Taino-L Taino interest forum <TAINO-L@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU>
From: Automatic digest processor <LISTSERV@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU>
Subject: TAINO-L Digest - 28 Nov 1999 to 30 Nov 1999 (#1999-126)

Date: Tue, 30 Nov 1999 14:15:04 -0500
From: "Ms. Beverly Carey Torres" <titc@DANDY.NET>
Subject: County Will Get Loan For Circle (Miami Florida)

County will get loan for Circle

Deal for purchase expected to be completed today

By Don Finefrock dfinefrock@herald.com
Maimi Herald,
Tuesday, November 30, 1999

With time running out to save the Miami Circle, the Miami-Dade Commission agreed Monday to borrow $8.7 million to buy the riverfront property and preserve the ancient stone carvings discovered there last year.

Barring any last-minute glitches, the county expects to complete the $26.7 million deal today with the property's owner, developer Michael Baumann.

Title for the 2.2-acre property at the mouth of the Miami River will be transferred to the state of Florida, which is contributing $15 million toward the purchase price. The county is contributing $3 million from its Safe Neighborhood Parks bond program.

The rest of the money will come from the Trust for Public Land, a national land conservation organization based in San Francisco.

The trust agreed two weeks ago to lend the county $8.7 million so it could buy out Baumann. The county had until today to buy the property or make a down payment of $20 million to preserve the carvings.

Experts believe the Circle was carved about 2,000 years ago by Tequesta Indians who lived in South Florida.

Seven commissioners -- the minimum needed for a meeting -- voted unanimously to accept the trust's offer, despite concerns about the extra cost and the potential liability.

The loan, at 8.5 percent interest, could add $1.5 million to the final cost of the deal, county officials told commissioners.

The agreement also puts the county in an uncomfortable spot. The county must now raise $8.7 million, or repay the loan itself. The first $2 million is due in one year. The remainder is due in two years.

"In effect, we are going on the hook for $8.7 million, Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas said.

But commissioners had little choice.

If the county had walked away from the deal it cut two months ago with Baumann, the developer could have sued the county to recover legal fees and others costs associated with the delay of his proposed high-rise project.


After reviewing the county's options, Commissioner Miriam Alonso said she felt as if she had a knife in front of her and a knife behind. Whichever way she moved would be painful, she said.

"It is a very painful experience that I have right now, Alonso said.

As the deadline neared, Baumann had offered to lend the county the full $8.7 million himself -- but at 12 percent interest.

Penelas and county officials pitched the trust proposal as the best choice.

"What this is doing is buying us time, said George Burgess, special assistant to County Manager Merrett Stierheim.

Penelas and Burgess said the county's fund-raising efforts should bear fruit shortly. County officials are seeking contributions from the Jay I. Kislak Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Kresge Foundation.


Penelas said the Kislak Foundation has agreed in principle to provide $2 million for the land. The foundation previously had expressed interest in funding a Circle museum.

County officials have applied for $1 million in federal transportation money from the local Metropolitan Planning Organization and they are exploring the possibility of tapping federal funds for land conservation.

"Although we do not have hard commitments from any of these efforts, all indications are we will be getting some very good news from several of these sources within the next several weeks, Penelas said.

(C) Miami Herald HOW TO HELP
Contributions to help save the Miami Circle can be sent to the following address. Checks should be made payable to the Miami Circle Trust Fund.

Miami Circle Trust Fund
Office of Management and Budget, Suite 2710
Stephen P. Clark Center
111 NW 1st St.
Miami, FL 33128

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