MIAMI — Several residents of Miami’s Overtown neighborhood left a meeting Monday night of the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) angry and without answers. The CRA was supposed to discuss the future of a six-block piece of vacant land known as Sawyer’s Walk Project.

A previous meeting on the subject scheduled for July 11 was postponed to Monday – but this time the topic was not on the agenda.

That did not sit well with Minnie Chalmers, 64, who said the matter was “swept under the rug for the second time.”

The meeting was supposed to provide details of settlement agreements with two companies and Miami-Dade County and also decide what projects would be allowed on the property.

The CRA’s executive director, Pieter A. Bockweg, plans to bring the issue before the agency’s board in September or October, said Chelsa Arscott, the CRA’s program administrator.

“That does not give the CRA a pass on this controversial issue; it will be addressed,” Miami City Commissioner Richard P. Dunn II, who is chairman of the CRA, said after Monday’s meeting.

Almost 150 residents attended the meeting at Frederick Douglass Elementary School, 314 NW 12th St. in Overtown. 

Reese Smith, 49, wanted to know whether a Walmart would be among the projects for the site and who was behind it. “But I don’t know what happened here tonight,” he said after the meeting. “[The CRA] shows up, the meeting ends quickly and all the commissioners disappear. So we are left in the dark, again.”

Dunn said no developer has been selected and that the CRA will put any project out to bid “so it will be fair.”

The CRA is under a great deal of scrutiny, its vice-chairman, Francis Suarez, said. “We have to make sure that everything is done correctly.”

For Estelle Johnson, 69, the issue is a simple one: “All we want is the money for Overtown to stay in Overtown,” she said after the meeting. “I want this to be the project we can finally trust.”

Cynthia Roby can be reached at