Dismantling of North Beach Log Cabin to Continue

North Shore

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Dismantling of North Beach Log Cabin to Continue:

commission affirms commitment to restoration

About two dozen supporters, many in Save the Log Cabin t-shirts, turned out at this week’s Miami Beach City Commission meeting to protest the dismantling of the North Beach log cabin. In October, the previous Commission voted to spend $274,000 to dismantle the deteriorating structure, catalog the salvageable material and store it until funding could be found for restoration. Expecting further discussion at the first meeting of the new Commission, preservation activists said they were surprised when deconstruction began last week and took to email and social media to question the City's intent. They came to City Hall to ask the Commission to halt the dismantling and restore the cabin in its current location on the City-owned West Lot between 81st and 82nd Streets on Collins Avenue. That site is proposed for the North Beach Yard which is expected to open a culinary pop-up and cultural center next year.
 
Mayor Dan Gelber addressed the crowd before Commissioners discussed the future of the cabin. “When I got emails expressing concern,” he said, “I understand that. What I thought was a little bit over the top was sort of an accusation that somehow the city government was trying to do something in the dark of night or something.”
 
After learning the history of the issue, Gelber said, “I don’t think that the City officials have been inattentive to the people on this. I think they have actually tried very hard to listen and to find routes that are available but just sometimes a route isn’t available and that can be frustrating but it doesn’t mean it’s because somebody was doing something underhanded.”
 
City Manager Jimmy Morales told Gelber and the Commissioners that Staff has been responsive to the direction of elected officials. Following an analysis of the cabin and then second and third opinions, he said it was determined that about half of the cabin’s original logs could be saved. Cost estimates have ranged from $685,000 to $1m for restoration.
 
Since September, Staff has worked on permitting issues, environmental surveys of the site, utility disconnection, and site cleanup prior to beginning the dismantling. Miami Beach Property Management Director Adrian Morales said, “This process could not have been more thorough. The staff and I dedicated well over 500 hours to this project. We understand the importance and we have been dedicating personnel resources to be there day and night to make sure that this is done the right way.”
 
Expert Douglas Wood is on-site watching the process to ensure that the salvageable material is properly catalogued and ready for storage in a temperature controlled facility in Opa-locka.
 
“We have procured a contractor who has done historical facilities,” Adrian Morales said. “So this has been a very lengthy process but it has been very thorough and I’m confident that everything has been done the right way.” He said deconstruction is expected to be completed by December 29th.  He also noted that instead of the estimated $274,000, deconstruction is expected to be “well under the initial budget” and cost about $100,000.
 
When asked if the deconstruction could be halted, Morales told Commissioners that all of the unsalvageable material had already been removed including the entire roof structure leaving the cabin covered by a blue tarp. Commissioners then decided to move forward with the plan laid out by the previous Commission to dismantle, store, and restore the cabin with location to be determined.
 
Commissioner Ricky Arriola linked the discussion to an item he placed on the agenda to engage Dover Kohl, the firm that completed the North Beach Master Plan to create a plan for the West Lots, eight acres of government-owned land on Collins Avenue.
 
“I think I have a path forward for us,” he said. In addition to funding, he said there is the issue of “ultimately, what are we going to do with it?”
 
“I would recommend that if we go forward with the Dover Kohl master planning of the West Lots that the log cabin restoration location and purpose be part of that discussion.”
 
Jason King from Dover Kohl noted that while the North Beach Master Plan talks about the preservation of the log cabin in place, “At the same time, the plan talks about  how in this age of climate change and resilience, preservation has to be more flexible  … As a professional city planner, I look to other cities and what have they done.”
 
He showed examples of small wooden structures that have been restored and repurposed for use in parks in Paris. “These structures should have a new life,” he said. “I know it’s expensive and I know your job is the hard one to find the funding but cities across the world have committed to these little tiny things that are so important to people and are remnants of another time.”
 
The Commission referred the item to Finance to find the money for the restoration of the cabin, later voting to get a proposal from Dover Kohl for the master planning of the West Lots, asking for a delivery date of June 1 including thoughts on the location of a restored log cabin.
 
Gelber concluded the conversation by telling the group, “I was a little concerned and I really don’t like it when people accuse city officials of doing something dishonest. I mean that’s a big accusation to me and I would appreciate it that, I think these folks are trying very hard to listen and do something and even if they don’t agree with you or you don’t agree with them I’d like the respect back and forth because I know we’re always going to respect you.”
 
Photo: Save the Log Cabin group
 

North Beach Log Cabin Dismantling Begins

North Shore


Susan Askew
Susan Askew
preservation activists caught by surprise

Commission Seeks Proposal for West Lots

North Shore


Susan Askew
Susan Askew
master plan would include log cabin location

commission votes to restore log cabin

North Shore


Susan Askew
Susan Askew
cabin will be dismantled and stored while funding is sought