VIRGINIA KEY, FLA. (WSVN) - The Virginia Key Outdoor Center is closed until further notice.

City of Miami Police officers showed up Friday afternoon — as seen on cellphone video — with orders to help put the center, which has been open for seven years, on notice.

“I got a call from my staff that seven police officers were here,” said Ester Alonso, the owner of the center. “Code enforcement showed up an hour later asking for a tax receipt.”

Parents are upset with how the situation was handled.

“The children were still here, which was really humbling,” said parent Charlotte Blanchet. “I know my older son feels really sad about the whole circumstances.”

7News cameras captured police officers as they walked around the Virginia Key property.

Alonso said she has a good idea why this is happening right now.

“I doubt that this is about anything other than retaliation,” she said. “I have spoken up aggressively against the homeless encampment that the city voted to build right next to us.”

Outspoken on camera and on the internet, Alonso has voiced her opinion against the city’s recent plans to possibly build tiny houses for the homeless right next to her center, on Virginia Key.

City Commissioner Joe Carollo first proposed the Virginia Key idea at a recent meeting, a move that has Alonso pushing back.

“And now, because we are protecting this park, we’re having retaliatory action taken by a commissioner who’s out of control,” she said, “and I don’t know why all the other commissioners keep voting with him.”

In a phone interview, Carollo responded to Alonso’s criticism.

“I’d like to find out what was she drinking or smoking that she would accuse me of something like that,” he said. “She’s got no proof of anything. I have not been involved with anything with her, she knows very well. I have no authority as a commissioner to send anybody over there, not even the Boy Scouts, so whoever sent whatever city personnel was there, it was the city administration, the city manager.”

The plans are on hold, as the city and Miami-Dade County talk options ahead of a final vote.

As for why city officials claim they closed the center, a spokesperson for the city sent a statement that read, “The Virginia Key Outdoor Center (VKOC) was indefinitely shut down for several code violations, including operating without a certificate of use (CU) or a business tax receipt (BTR). Both documents are required to operate a water-related business in the City of Miami. In addition, our real estate asset management currently estimates that the VKOC owes more than $140,000 in past due rent.”

But Alonso said she is certain this is about much more than just dollars and cents.

“But I’m not backing down,” she said. “We have to protect our parks. We lost Melreese to a soccer and mall development, and we can’t lose Virginia Key, because if we do, every park in the City of Miami is subject to development.”

As for the tiny houses proposed for the homeless to live in on Virginia Key, the city plans to discuss the matter in further detail sometime in September.

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