Written by Miami Today on April 14, 2005
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CONTRACT OVERSIGHT: As Mayor Carlos Alvarez moves to put on the ballot a charter amendment that would remove contracts from the purview of the Miami-Dade County Commission, commissioners last week voted unanimously to direct County Manager George Burgess to explore creating "a pool of retired judges, retired businesspersons and lay persons" to observe county contract-selection committees and make recommendations about the committees and their roles in the procurement process.
INCORPORATING CHANGE: County commissioners Tuesday are to act on measures introduced last year on municipal incorporations. One would make creating new cities harder by requiring 25% of electors in the area to petition for an incorporation vote instead of the present 10%. The other would require new cities with above-average per capita taxable values to pay the county all tax revenues from high-value business, commercial or industrial areas they annex.
HURRY UP AND BUILD: Miami’s building boom could get a speed-up today (4/14). The city commission, which has authorized the building department to expedite project reviews, is to vote on letting the zoning and planning department rush plans through – for an added fee. City Manager Joe Arriola said in a memo a study found significant demand for an expedited plans-review service. Those who use the city’s services would pay $250 per review. Outside service reviews would carry a 15% administrative fee to cover processing.
HOTELS PROSPER: Greater Miami hotel room rates are soaring above the US average. According to Smith Travel Research, the average daily hotel room rate in the area Feb. 27-April 2 rose 14% from a year earlier. The average was $151 per room in Miami-Dade County, $120 for Florida and $92 nationally. Greater Miami averaged 86% occupancy, up 6.3% from the same period in 2004. National occupancy averaged 64.8%, up 2.1%.
HANGAR HANGUP: The Miami City Commission is to decide today (4/14) whether to give Grove Harbour Marina and Caribbean Marketplace LLC until Sept. 30 to convert two city-owned seaplane hangars once used by Pan American Airways into a marketplace and boat-storage facility. Work was due to be finished last year at the site, 2640 S Bayshore Drive in Coconut Grove. A 1999 lease with the city required Grove Harbour to finish the job within 18 months of getting a building permit, which the developer got June 5, 2003. Relocation of electrical facilities by Florida Power & Light prevented completion of the drainage system and boatyard facility, causing a delay, city documents state.
WORKS WAITS: The $60,000 the Miami City Commission approved Feb. 24 to help Miami Works, a program to provide about 1,000 construction jobs to unskilled residents, awaits approval by City Manager Joe Arriola and the director of South Florida Workforce, Edith Hume. The funds would bolster drug testing and character assessment to help South Florida Workforce continue the program, said David Rosemond, Mr. Arriola’s chief of staff. "There are no major concerns in the delay. They are just reviewing the paperwork," he said. "I plan to have the documentation signed and approved by the end of this week."
PAVING ALLAPATTAH: A proposal to shift 2005 community development block grant funds to the Allapattah Street improvement project goes before the Miami City Commission today (4/14). A Nov. 18 resolution guaranteed the transfer of $1.8 million. The city’s Capital Improvement Projects office has a bidder’s commitment to complete the project by June 30.
GABLES RESIDENCES: Alliance Companies Inc. this week announced a 34-residence development at 912 E Ponce de Leon Blvd. in northern Coral Gables. Alliance bought three adjacent lots for the project last month for $4 million. Construction is due in fall. The project is to include townhomes, condominiums and lofts priced from $399,000 to $800,000. President Robert CambÛ said the project would be a low-rise.
SHIPPERS MAKE WAVES: The Miami River Marine Group, a port cooperative trade association, plans a press conference today (4/14) to say Miami city officials plan to eviscerate port operations on the Miami River and construct high-rise condos along the banks. Executive Director Fran Bohnsack said she will offer facts to support the claim. Luciana L. Gonz·lez, special projects coordinator for the city planning department, said the group, which seeks city policies that aid river shipping and support river land use more favorable to marine interests, sometimes chooses to sue the city to object to riverfront developments such as Hurricane Cove, River Run South and the Mahi Shrine site.
CHAMBER HONORS: Drug Free Youth in Town and the Heiken Children’s Vision Fund won the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s NOVO Awards, with $1,000 checks attached, from the chamber’s Not-for-Profit Task Force.
CARGO SECURITY FOCUS: Officials from 17 countries at the Customs Symposium of the Americas here this week focused on airport and seaport cargo security. "Our biggest challenge this year comes from new security initiatives and its new requirements," said Lee Sandler, symposium co-chairman and partner at law firm Sandler Travis & Rosenberg. The trade community huddled with hemispheric customs officials before their annual private meetings, to be held in May in Brazil. Talks this week also spotlighted revenue collection and enforcement of trade, safety and health laws.
GETTING UP TO DATE: A symposium panel focused on modernizing and synchronizing hemispheric customs systems. "Some countries in the hemisphere do not have important container-security initiatives," Mr. Sandler said. The forum promoted debate between transportation and trade companies and top customs officials, he said. "This is the only event in the hemisphere that business community meets directly with customs directors general. "A major part of what we focus on is to understand objective of new initiatives."
MEET THE MINISTERS: The Inter-American Economic Council will host a Caribbean Business Roundtable in Sunny Isles Beach as the Organization of American States’ General Assembly meets in Fort Lauderdale. The 8:30 a.m. June 4 roundtable at the Trump Sonesta is an opportunity for the private sector to interact with ministers from the Caribbean region and Latin America, said Barry Featherman, economic council president. "This could be the initiation of bilateral agreements between Andean Region countries and the US," he said. The OAS meeting will have 100 participants, including ministers from 34 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Details: (202) 548- 0400.
WORKFORCE UPGRADES: Upgrading the education of the local workforce is the topic of the International Roundtable April 21 sponsored by Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Miami Today. Panelists include Rudy Crew, school superintendent; Jaap Donath, Beacon Council vice president for research and strategic planning; and Bill Schmidt, head of the US International Math and Science Study Center at Michigan State University. Miami Today International Editor Michael Hayes will moderate. The free 7:30 a.m. session will be at school board headquarters, 1450 NE Second Ave. RSVP: Victor Guedez, (305) 358-2663.
CORRECTION: An April 7 report on approval of a Lummus Park basketball court incorrectly attributed comments to Miami Director of Parks Ernest Burkeen. The person who represented the city and commented at the Environmental and Preservation Historic board meeting April 5 was Parks and Recreation Project Supervisor Edward Blanco.