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Fla. Ocean Homes Won’t Be Torn Down

November 23, 1999

BISCAYNE NATIONAL PARK (AP) _ Ten days before Stiltsville was to have been torn down, the seven homes built on poles out over Biscayne Bay’s shallow waters have been given a one-year reprieve.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., announced that the homeowners and the U.S. National Park Service, which owns the submerged land the structures are built upon, will keep on negotiating until Dec. 1, 2000.

The homeowners are trying to reach an agreement that will preserve their homes, which are over the water a few miles offshore south of Key Biscayne, an island off Miami.

The homeowners’ lease with the government, signed almost 30 years ago, had been set to expire Dec. 1; and Biscayne National Park had planned to reclaim the houses and destroy them.

Ros-Lehtinen said she hoped both sides would ``find a permanent solution that will preserve Stiltsville _ and maintain the integrity of Biscayne National Park.″

She has proposed transferring the Stiltsville lands back to the state.

Dick Frost, Biscayne National Park’s superintendent, said the extension will give both sides enough time to find a solution.

``We want to be perfectly clear that the public’s interest in Biscayne National Park will be maintained,″ he said.

Stiltsville dates to the 1920s and 1930s, when fishermen built shacks in the area. By the 1940s, homes were being built, mostly used for retreats and for parties.

In its heyday, Stiltsville boasted 25 homes, as high as 50 feet above the waters of the bay. Hurricanes and fires have taken their toll, and only seven remain.

Gail Baldwin, part-owner of one of the homes, said he is relieved Stiltsville is saved, at least for now.

``These homes are part of Miami history,″ Baldwin said.

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