Guide To Trashing Taxpayers: Hialeah Okeechobee Road Landmark
Today, we visit a monument stroking the ego of Hialeah's most famous king.
Hialeah landmark and fountain
Year built: 2005
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!
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
The Metrorail M-Path
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