Battle Over Private Road And Entrance To Public Park Came To A Head Saturday

CBS4's Bobeth Yates reports on the protest regarding the closure of Matheson Hammock Park’s west entrance.

Video Transcript

KEITH JONES: Also this morning, a battle over a private road and the entrance to a public park. Residents came together to protest the closure of Matheson Hammock Park's west entrance, saying the homes in the area are infringing on their public access rights. CBS4's Bobeth Yates has more.

BOBETH YATES: This is the entrance to Matheson West Hammock Park. It used to be open to the public to drive through, but now there are restrictions that aren't sitting well with many.

SCOTT BAXTER: Open the gate.

BOBETH YATES: Scott Baxter is among the group protesting the closure of Madison Hammock Park west entrance to cars.

SCOTT BAXTER: Anybody who wants to go to the park now is going to have to walk down a path that's almost a half a mile long.

SCOTT BAXTER: The group says, pre-COVID they would drive right into the park from the old school road entrance. But now the location has been limited to only disabled and those walking.

OLGA JUMBO: The closure of our gate, it's limiting. It's segregating an entire population of Miami-Dade residents. People with disabilities, elderly, pregnant [? women-- ?] cannot walk that path that you see right there.

BOBETH YATES: Protesters blame the Hammock Lakes Homeowners Association for the closure, but the HOA president says it wasn't them.

BILL OGDEN: Now, you know, we're the bad guys. Everybody says that we've done all this stuff to-- to politically influence the gate being closed. And we've done absolutely nothing.

BOBETH YATES: Ogden says from the mid-80s to 2009, the old school road entrance was only used for service vehicles and not open to the public. In 2009, the entrance was expanded to those with disabilities. But because it was never policed, anyone could gain access.

And he adds, prior to the gate being closed, last year for COVID, about 4,000 cars a month would use the west entrance that goes through their small residential neighborhood. And he says the bigger problem was what happened when the cars got inside.

BILL OGDEN: The Environmental Department of Dade county decided that cars driving into a pristine, highly protected environment-- that wasn't good environmentally. And we're the bad guys.

BOBETH YATES: The group says blocking this entrance violates the deed to the park, and they're hoping to have a sit down with city officials to undo it soon. Bobeth Yates, CBS4 News, This Morning.