It is amazing that everyone knows what’s best for Overtown! A recent Miami Herald editorial, and UM responses have dismissively cited that those expressing a desire for the UM Life Science and Technology Park/Wexford to commit to a long-term investment in the neighborhood are ‘a few community activists’, meddlers looking for a handout. On the contrary, there is an entire neighborhood whose voice is going unheard!
The Overtown Community Oversight Board (OCOB) has recently drafted a resolution on behalf of the Overtown community, asking that a Community Benefits Agreement be drafted and that residents are represented at the negotiating table. We are not a group of agitators, but rather official community leaders, residents, business owners and other stakeholders. Overtown residents are not interested in handshakes, backslapping, and empty promises. An agreement is the only guarantee that will assure that each party keeps its promise.
We seek partnership in a meaningful, long-term relationship with UM/Wexford and other developers and businesses that will receive public funds to bring about redevelopment in Overtown. This is a community that is not looking for something for nothing; this project is set to receive a $60 million bond, a $25 million county grant, $8.33 million New Markets tax credits- funds only available because the construction is being done in the low-income community of Overtown.
Now, the university stands to receive a rumored $8 million in CRA dollars, which come from tax revenues generated in the CRA district. While there has been some community interaction, it falls miserably short of what residents are asking. Legitimate, credible leaders have sought to bridge the disconnect that still exists, but have not been successful in reaching those who are the real decision and policy-makers.
Bishop James Adams, Senior Pastor
Overtown Community Oversight Board, Chairman
St. John Institutional Missionary Baptist Church (Overtown)
1328 Northwest 3rd Avenue, Miami