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Residents' frustrations grow over Miami Riverwalk safety concerns

By Larry Seward,


Residents' frustrations grow over Miami Riverwalk safety concerns 02:43

MIAMI - There is frustration growing over safety on Miami's Riverwalk. Residents of nearby One Miami said that at night the walkway is too dark, too dim and repairs to lights are taking too long.

A spokesperson for the City of Miami said the area is private property with a public easement.  In other words, the walkway is open to the public.  Security is the city's responsibility but maintaining working lights along the path is up to the property owner, according to a city spokesperson.

The area troubling neighbors lies behind InterContinental Miami.

"I'm so scared to walk here," Desiree D'Souza, a neighbor said.

D'Souza is also fed up and beyond frustrated with InterContinental Miami and the city over lights that do not work or feel too dim for her comfort at night.

"Sometimes (lights are) on, sometimes it's off," D'Souza said.  "I've been dealing with the city two years and on-going calling them (and) sending email.  You're walking past someone (on the Riverwalk) and it's so dark here you don't see whose path you're crossing and that's why the incident with my friend took place."

A stranger tossed Marine and retired police officer Kevin Gilliam over the seawall two weeks ago.  Gilliam broke a leg.  Though Miami Police arrested and charged a man for the attack within hours of the crime, Gilliam and others including City Commissioner Sabina Covo worry about random attacks because they growing groups of people who live on the street hanging out along the path more often.

"We are pressuring the administration to bring more public safety to downtown," Covo said.  "So please do believe that we're working hard enough to make sure that this doesn't happen again.  It's unacceptable."

A spokesperson for IHG Hotels and Resorts responded to complaints in an email to CBS News Miami.

"The InterContinental Hotel works closely with the City of Miami on this public access space and maintenance of the features that the city installed," Jamie Cwalinski, The Americas Manager of Corporate Communications for IHG Hotels and Resorts.  "Light bulbs are replaced regularly."

However, neighbors said light bulbs regularly go out without replacement and those in place are not bright enough.

After CBS News Miami called for comment, hotel security meet with a city inspector on the Riverwalk.

In an email, a city spokesperson said that code compliance enforcement opened a case Thursday.  In that case, the inspector measured all eight lights but found just one out.  That same inspection found the other lights bright enough to meet city standards.

"I feel much safer here than in (Los Angeles)," Emelie Thisell, who lives nearby, said.  "I'm from Sweeden but I moved here from LA and walking here I see homeless people but I'm never scared because I think they're more friendly.  They just say hi."

Still, until D'Souza sees better lighting she said it feels too risky for her to walk the pathway at night.

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