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Doral’s Smelly Recycling Plant, And Efforts To Preserve The Surfside Wall Of Hope

Miami Herald
Workers for HistoryMiami bag items to be preserved from the Surfside memorial on Monday, August 30, 2021.

The mayor of Doral joined the program to discuss the future of his city and the ongoing battle over a bad smell. Plus, how HistoryMiami Museum is preserving items from the Surfside memorial site.

On this, Thursday, Sept. 2, episode of Sundial. 

Doral’s Smelly Recycling Plant

The latest U.S. Census data found South Florida’s cities and municipalities are drastically changing.

One of the fastest-growing communities in Miami-Dade County is the city of Doral.

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It’s added tens of thousands of new residents over the past decade and developed a robust downtown with live music, breweries and award-winning restaurants.

But with that growth comes challenges. For years, residents have been complaining about the Covanta Waste Energy Facility that releases horrific odors.

“Imagine a garbage pail full of food and it just sits there for about a week in the heat, for example, that would be my description of [the smell],” said the city’s Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez, who lives not too far from the facility.

Complaints have gotten so bad that Bermudez is asking the county to end its lease with the recycling plant.

He proposed that the county transport the trash to the Okeechobee Landfill west of Fort Pierce, where the county already delivers waste. But county Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, told the Miami Herald, she has concerns about the environmental impact of moving the trash and whether it would interfere with the county’s sustainability targets.

Doral’s Smelly Recycling Plant
Portland recycling handlers say they've seen more diapers in recycling bins after the city switched to biweekly trash pickups. A file photo shows bags of diapers in a container at a California recycling facility.

Preserving The Surfside Wall Of Hope

The makeshift Surfside memorial site that was once adorned with flowers, stuffed animals and other mementos now sits empty.

A team with HistoryMiami Museum was there collecting items and dismantling the site Monday as part of an effort to preserve and prevent further weather damage to the sentimental pieces.

“We're being proactive in ensuring that these important mementos, a lot of them pulled out of the rubble by firefighters, that these mementos are preserved and we're working with this in Miami to make sure that that that is that these family members will always have a place to go to mourn their loved ones and to honor their loved ones,” said Leo Soto, who started the memorial wall and continues to be involved in its preservation.

Soto recently launched the non-profit Wall of Hope Foundation to continue efforts for a memorial and help other communities create similar spaces for mourning.

WLRN reporter Veronica Zaragovia and Jorge Zamanillo, the executive director of HistoryMiami Museum also joined the conversation.

The Surfside town commission is meeting this month to discuss the future of the memorial wall.

Preserving The Surfside Wall Of Hope
Family members hold vigil last month for the deceased victims and people who are missing from the condo collapse in Surfside, Fla.

Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.