April 15, 1999

The Honorable Bruce Babbitt
Secretary
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington DC 20240

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We arc writing to express our opposition to the pending demolition of a historic Florida site known as “Stiltsville”, located in the Biscayne Bay area of Miami. Stiltsville IS 8 unique community consisting of seven wood frame houses typically resting on steel reinforced pilings, rising above shallow water about a mile from the nearest land. It’s history dates back to the I 930s

We are aware that the Biscayne National Park, the National Park Service and the Department of Interior have made an initial decision not to extend the private leasehold interests for the seven remaining Stiltsville homes beyond July, 1999, and require demolition of these historic South Florida sites. We request your reconsideration of this decision, as well as your granting an extension of the present leases within Biscayne National Park, so that they will be preserved for future generations to come.

Stiltsville not only provides a cultural and historic source of pride for our residents, but its inherent value extends far beyond this limited scope. Stiltsville serves as a sanctuary for sea and plant life with the survival of this ecosystem linked to its continued existence. The number of living things which have created a niche in this area cannot simply be dismissed.

Preservation of the Stiltsville homes (with their current owners) will not only maintain the aesthetic beauty of the region and continue to benefit the local wildlife, but also will continue Stiltsville’s substantial contribution to South Florida’s civic, educational and tourist activities. The homeowners of this unique area have demonstrated their willingness to protect and preserve their homes and the environment, as well as hosting civic groups, student organizations and tourists. If Stiltsville were to be demolished, structures with such use, beauty and rich architectural design could never be replicated, and this special opportunity for individuals to visit such a rare landmark would be lost to future generations.

In just one week, Stiltsville supporters have gathered well over 10,000 signatures on a petition to save this valuable community asset, which provides a great benefit to our area and its ecology, without any cost to the taxpayers.

Your assistance is also requested in making an immediate appeal of the initial determination of the National Register of Historic Places’ denial of landmark status with a recommendation that would grant this local treasure the status it deserves.

To ensure that this historic district is not destroyed while awaiting further review, we also request that special use permits be immediately issued by the National Park Service granting existing leaseholders permission to continue to occupy and maintain these historic structures.