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Little Haiti boundaries now official

What’s in a name?

In Lemon City — make that Little Haiti — the answer, for those who live and work in the community, is everything.

And so cheers erupted and brows furrowed Thursday in jam-packed Miami City Hall when commissioners voted unanimously to designate Little Haiti as an official city neighborhood. The creation of legal boundaries for the community in northeast Miami has been pushed for years, but always unsuccessfully due largely to overlapping boundaries with Lemon City, a historic neighborhood that predated the incorporation of Miami.

For proponents and opponents of the proposal, who debated for hours Thursday, the at-times racially-tinged conflict came down to preserving history and heritage. Lemon City advocates worried the city would wipe out the story of the place where Miami’s first school and library were founded. Haitian activists argued developers are already buying up property and gentrifying the neighborhood, clearing out their community.

“We are elated. Now no one can come and erase the name of Little Haiti,” Marleine Bastien, executive director of Fanm Ayisyen nan Miyami, said after the vote. “If this decision was not made today, in a few years Little Haiti would disappear.”

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Written by David Smiley and originally published by the Miami Herald.