When developer MDM Group managed to yank away from Miami’s historic preservation board last week the question of what to do with the discovery of a significant prehistoric Tequesta Indian village site, they moved the ball into a potentially more advantageous court — the political, deal-making world of the City Commission.
And, in fact, the negotiating has already begun over the array of carved postholes that archaeologists say likely represent the foundations of a 2,000-year-old village.
Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, whose district includes downtown, summoned MDM attorney Eugene Stearns to his office Monday to urge a compromise that would save the most important archaeological features on the site, both participants said. Sarnoff is also proposing the unusual step of asking the property owners to enter into mediation with preservationists.
But therein lies the rub: Who gets to decide what those “important” features are, how they’re best protected and displayed, and what would be destroyed and re-buried? And who would enforce those decisions?