- Faith & Family
Developers proclaim that the new University of Miami Life Science & Technology Park that recently opened in the heart of Overtown, will anchor what will one day be a “vibrant community where people can work and play.” But there are some who wonder if those who benefit from these new work-and-play options will reflect the hundreds of men and women who have lived and struggled in Overtown for generations. And while some claim they have these citizens’ interests at heart, it’s tough to determine who is best-qualified to represent their often-ignored needs.
What is evident is that there are big dollars to be made for UM and a select, privileged few developers who have been awarded the contracts for construction. Overtown’s CRA communications director says her group wants to get the best deal for residents. At the same time, community activists like Power U’s Keith Ivory criticize the entire negotiation process, citing the enormous amounts of tax money that continue to be awarded to UM. One has to wonder how much more our county officials will give to UM before they start demanding something more tangible in return than just promises of future jobs. Again, UM seems to have scored a coup as its most recent request for an additional $90 million in tax-free bonds appears to be a done deal.
Perhaps the individual or group that eventually emerges as the most competent to speak for Overtown’s ignored residents will realize that they have very little with which to bargain. That’s because most of the deals have already been made. Real negotiation should have been solidified before any groundbreaking ceremonies occurred. Now perhaps the best Overtown’s jobless can hope for are job training programs like the one recently awarded to the South Florida Workforce. Sadly, it will take considerable time for residents to be re-trained so that they are even eligible for the thousands of anticipated jobs. In the meantime, Overtown’s unemployed will be forced to watch others grow richer while they continue to live on handouts.