The idea for the preserve had been discussed in the neighborhood before it was formally developed in the 1998-1999 SFRPC Eastward Ho charrette (MiamiShores_ElPortal_Charrette_report.pdf)*. Even though that charrette focused on Miami Shores and El Portal, it emphasized the Little River location as a regional planning focus. Thus it inclued the idea for the Little River Preserve in the City of Miami. Afterwards a citizens committee from Oakland Grove in Miami and El Portal worked with City of Miami Parks to do a proposal to the Florida Communities Trust (FCT) Preservation 2000 program. The proposal was ranked 7th out of over 100 proposals and was the only one funded by the FCT that year in the Eastward Ho! corridor. A management plan was drafted and environmental study initiated, and then arsenic pollution was discovered. See this brief report on what happened: AfterBrownfieldFinal_Report1june02.pdf
Since then it has become easier to get brownfields funding for pollution cleanup. The site stayed listed as a park in the master plan, and neighbors worked to get owners to agree to sell the property with the Trust for Public Land. This failed at the last minute because the City Commission could not offer guarantees the owner needed.