Guide To Trashing Taxpayers: Hialeah Okeechobee Road Landmark

This week, Miami New Times is publishing a guide to the eight of the worst public works projects in Miami-Dade, where bureaucrats and elected officials take pride in wasting millions in taxpayer dollars on crap residents have little-to-no use for. As we reveal each one of these boondoggles on Riptide, we're asking readers to send us their suggestions of the most asinine things local government has built in your neighborhoods. We'll pick the best one and send the winner a seven-day pass to try out the wonderfully terrible public bus and rail system provided by Miami-Dade Transit. Leave your suggestions in the comments or email them to Banana Republican. Enjoy!

Today, we visit a monument stroking the ego of Hialeah's most famous king.

Hialeah landmark and fountain
Year built: 2005
Cost: $411,848.56
What's dumb about it: You can't enter this building because it serves no other purpose than to be a six-figure backdrop for a fountain.
Why it got built: Raul! Raul! Raul!

hialeahlandmark.jpg
During the 1980s and 1990s, a coral rock fountain on a grassy patch at SE Fourth Street and Okeechobee Road was rallying point for Hialeah candidates. Signs for council contenders Jimmy Gunn and Silvio Cardoso and the city's then-on-the-rise mayor, Raul Martinez, littered the city-owned property, which is conveniently located at a major entrance to Hialeah. On weekends, Martinez, his allies, and their opponents would stand in front of the fountain where they would wave to the passing, honking motorists. "In 1983, this was the place to be," Martinez says. "It was a prime corner."

The site's political history gave el alcalde (now in a runoff to regain his job) the excuse to erect an expensive grand daddy beacon to greet residents and visitors entering la ciudad que progresa.

Today, driving west on Okeechobee Road, you can't miss the two-story pale yellow structure. The Mediterranean-style building, which features two sentry towers and a stone fountain on the ground floor, is an oddity among the rows of lowbrow motels and warehouses. It is a gargantuan reminder that you are no longer in the United States of America. And it cost Hialeah taxpayers.

In the original budget, the city figured $20,000 was enough to cover the railings and other metal work and $23,010 would buy all the stucco needed for construction. Wrong! The city council had to approve an extra $12,700 to finish the structure.

When the plaza was completed six years ago, Martinez hailed it as a monument to the diversity of Hialeah's Cuban residents, from recently arrived balseros to the older exiles. "We are proud of the city of Hialeah," he said. "And the people we sometimes tend to forget."

Yet the plaza is no tourist attraction. There are no sidewalks that allow people to walk up to the structure to take pictures. There is no parking either. You can't even enter to enjoy the view from the second-floor terrace. It is a six-figure waste of taxpayer money brought to you by the city's longtime ruler.

Guide to Trashing Taxpayers:

Marc Sarnoff's Circle
South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center
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7 comments
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Manny Celdran
Manny Celdran

What about that over sized fountain in the middle of Palm Ave?  That thing is horrendous, and a pain in the ass!

urbabymama
urbabymama

AND THEY WANT THIS RAUL BACK IN OFFICE???? KILL ME NOW LMAO

Eduardo Especial
Eduardo Especial

I dunno. I kinda like it. It's nice to see driving up Okeechobee.

CJ
CJ

How about all those nice new toll plazas they just finished building to tear down?

anon_e_m00se
anon_e_m00se

"When the plaza was completed six years ago, Martinez hailed it as a monument to the diversity of Hialeah's Cuban residents, from recently arrived balseros to the older exiles."Diversity takes on new meaning in the City of Progress...

Idiots
Idiots

Wait until the taxpayers realize the broke (and no collection) Miami Art Museum and the broke (and rundown) Miami Science Museum used lies to con over $1.0 BILLION out of the idiots at Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami. Neither fake museum raised the money they promised to raise. Watch as the cost over-runs push the scam over the $1 BILLION mark.

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