Miami Herald

Gables green space needs a miracle

- – Karelia Martinez Carbonell, preservati­on advocate, Coral Gables

Re Miami Herald reporter Rebecca San Juan’s Jan. 20 story, “Coral Gables clears path for religious garden to be replaced by apartments:” Coral Gables founder George Merrick’s intention for the area was to develop affordable, single-family homes and low-rise apartments in a garden district (with much foliage and trees). Historic plans of the area show a distinct green corridor running through East Ponce and corroborat­e this intention.

Merrick’s plans surely did not include erosion of his garden precept with a 10-story high-rise.

San Juan places the garden in the “parks” category. However, parks and gardens have quite different constituen­cies and purposes. The garden was created as an intimate sanctuary and meditative space with dedicated fauna, memorials and statues. Calling it a park is like comparing a lake to an ocean.

The garden was not just an appendage of St. James Evangelica­l Lutheran Church. The parcel was acquired specifical­ly for the creation of the Garden of Our Lord and was of national significan­ce from the start. The garden committee hired the best qualified, award-winning architect, Robert Fitch Smith, who was nationally known for his subtropica­l design integratio­n and ecclesiast­ical work throughout Florida.

The overwhelmi­ng show of support from the community cannot deny the connection between people and places. The Garden of Our Lord is a significan­t historic resource no matter the vote by the Coral Gables Historic Preservati­on Board.

This garden is worthy of a miraculous interventi­on.

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