TRAIL — Representing the Seminole Tribe, Trail Council Liaison Norman Huggins proudly handed a property deed and a bouquet of various colored roses to Winter Dawn Billie on Nov. 9. Billie was one of two tribal members who won a lottery for a pair of vacant lots in the Trail Seminole community on U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trail). The property was acquired after a lengthy legal process.
“It used to belong to two other people, but they had it for 10 years and never did anything with it, so we took it back and got it transferred to other people’s names,” Huggins said. “Give somebody else a chance.”
The new owners will be able to build a house or campsite on the lots.
Huggins sees this property shift as a step toward getting more land permitted for bigger projects in the future. One potential project is to build an official tribal office for the community.
The Trail community does not have a tribal office based near the community. The Trail office is currently located 22 miles east of the community in a small plaza on Tamiami Trail on the outskirts of suburban Miami-Dade County. The area where the office resides has come to be referred as “East Trail.”
Huggins hopes to get plans approved by the Tribal Council to start construction for a new office in the Trail community.
“We want to be here in the community,” Huggins said. “Next to my family’s property (on U.S. 41) there use to be an old church there. It’s only two acres, but that was the only private land I could find, so when I first got here I got the Tribe to acquire it. The Tribe got that property about six years ago, so we’ve been fighting to get this thing done for six years. I’ve had to get the county to change their ordinances and everything else.”
At two acres the lot would be a tight squeeze for an office building. There is also the issue of building and parking lot requirements that have to comply with legal standards.
“I’m trying to put the biggest building I can on it. Hurricane proof, hurricane shelter, and everything else,” Huggins said. “If they don’t scale it down it should be around 12,600 square feet.”
Another prospect Huggins has in mind is to have the Council talk to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and request to have some land set aside for the construction of apartment buildings. The apartments would serve as a stepping stone for the younger generation. “Something they can handle,” Huggins said.
Huggins’ plans would have to be approved by the Council.