Written by Miami Today on May 12, 2005
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TUNNEL CONCERNS: County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez is seeking alternative routes for a tunnel to connect the Port of Miami with Interstate 395. Mr. Gimenez, chairman of the county’s Transportation Committee, said he has asked state Transportation Secretary John Martinez for an estimate on a different route. "There are a lot of issues with that tunnel, and costs keep escalating, so I’ve asked to see if there are alternatives to the port tunnel," he said. The current plan, aimed at easing traffic congestion, is estimated at $1 billion. Mr. Gimenez said the proposed route could hamper efforts to deepen Government Cut, the main channel in and out of the port. Sonyha Rodriguez-Miller of Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, management arm of the highway system, said the proposed spot is under the main channel on the north side of the port. "The port has a 20-year plan," she said, "and there are no plans to deepen the area where we’re looking at putting the tunnel."
NORTH MIAMI REDEVELOPMENT: The county commission last week voted to create the North Miami Community Redevelopment Area Trust Fund. A June 7 hearing is planned. The area is bordered by city boundaries on the north, south and west and Biscayne Boulevard to the east. The redevelopment plan includes a separate project encompassing the former Munisport site east of Biscayne Boulevard.
NORTH MIAMI BEACH TOO: The county will hear June 7 about plans to revitalize part of North Miami Beach. Commissioners agreed to help fund city plans to create a town center north and south of Northeast 163rd Street from Eighth Avenue to Biscayne Boulevard. Financing the first five years is projected at $2.5 million, based on annual projected growth in taxable values of 5.2% and a tax increment contribution by the city and county of 95%. The plan calls for county contribution of about $1.1 million the first five years, of which $375,000 will come in the fifth year. Keven Klopp, deputy city manager, said the trust fund could be set up in July.
AIR CARGO UP: Cargo traffic at Miami International Airport, US leader in international air cargo and third in the world for total air freight, rose 3.7% in the first quarter. Freight traffic rose from 468,139 tons in the first three months of 2004 to 485,447. Of the tonnage, 402,962 tons were international cargo, 82,485 domestic.
REZONINGS PUT OFF: Time ran out Monday as Miami-Dade commissioners considered rezoning 12 sites totaling almost 1,500 acres. The commission adopted an ordinance providing for deviation from code for lands included in the Comprehensive Development Master Plan but had to adjourn before it could consider each of the 12. Concerns over insufficient classrooms for the children of homebuyers in two Doral sites drew objections from the public school system. A study indicated that more than 600 class seats would be needed to serve a proposed 4,000 housing units on the first tract.
SAVING BASES: A Miami attorney and US Coast Guard veteran joins a panel aiming to protect Florida’s 21 military facilities, including the US Southern Command in Doral and Air Reserve Base in Homestead. Ret. Rear Admiral and Gunster Yoakley & Stewart lawyer Jay Carmichael is one of four recruits named to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Base Realignment and Closure. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is expected by Monday to submit a list of targeted bases, installations and missions across the US. Annual defense spending in Florida amounts to $44 billion a year, third only to tourism and agriculture.
MEXICO TRAVEL: The US-Mexico Chamber of Commerce will host a breakfast to discuss Mexico’s latest travel campaign. "We will be talking about the importance of tourism coming from Florida and why it has been increasing," said Elba Hentschel, chamber executive director. The 8:15 a.m. May 20 breakfast will be at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables. Tickets are $25 at the door, $20 in advance. Details: (305) 275-1536 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ENTREPRENEUR HONORS: Jorge and Carlos de Cespedes, founders of the Pharmed Group, are winners of the Entrepreneur of South Florida award from Florida International University’s college of business administration. The university is also inducting Larry Harris, founder of Pollo Tropical restaurants, and Agustin Herran, owner of General Real Estate, into the school’s Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame. The event will be celebrated with a luncheon at Parrot Jungle at 11:30 a.m. today (5/12). Details: Monique Catoggio, (305) 348-4227.
ARTS ON BOARD: The Coconut Grove Arts Festival board has eight fresh faces. The village’s arts and historical association elected members to its board of directors ahead of the 43rd festival, scheduled for Feb. 18-20 – Alan Campbell, Elena Carpenter, Evan Contorakes, Gary Ciuca, Patricia Dahne, Daniel Eggland, Nan Markowitz and Jeffrey Rosinek. Mario Toca is to serve as chairman, Thelma Gibson as secretary and Mr. Eggland as treasurer. Monty Trainer remains interim president.
BURGER COUNTER: Ben Wells is Burger King Corp.’s new senior vice president and treasurer. He will work in the company’s Airport West office, reporting to Cedric Burgher, BK’s chief financial officer. With 25 years of experience in finance, Mr. Wells is coming from Compaq Computer Corp. He also worked for 10 years at British Petroleum.
MDC FAME: Miami Dade College has inducted 28 former students into its Hall of Fame. Musician Emilio Estefan, former Miami Dolphins player Nat Moore, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle and playwright Nilo Cruz are among this year’s honorees.
FLAT OUT OF LUCK: Friday, May 13, will be unlucky for at least one Miami-Dade County resident whose illegally constructed house is to be flattened that day. The property at 11335 SW 32nd St. was built in 1998 contrary to code and without permits. The county’s Team Metro, which tried to get the property brought to code for seven years, has acquired a demolition order and hopes to send home the message that those who build unsafe structures won’t be able to keep them.
CORRECTION: In an April 28 article on arts funding, Cultural Affairs Council Chairwoman Rosa Sugrañes referred to a two-thirds majority of voters who supported the General Obligation Bond issue, which is to provide substantial arts funding, rather than to legislators and state funding, as was published.