Written by Miami Today on May 8, 2008
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VETO OVERRIDDEN: Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez failed in his second veto attempt to bar the commission from allowing two developments outside the Urban Development Boundary Line. The commission voted 8-4 to override the mayor’s veto of a Lowe’s Home Improvement Store at Southwest 138th Avenue and Eighth Street and a commercial and office complex at 167th Avenue and 88th Street. Mr. Alvarez first vetoed the projects last December, but the commission quickly overrode the veto. Earlier this year, the state Department of Community Affairs also urged the county to reject the projects. "I don’t believe this is the time to be moving the Urban Development Boundary Line," Mr. Alvarez told commissioners before they voted to override his veto.
TAXICAB SURCHARGE: Taxi drivers could be on their way to adding a 50-cent surcharge to fares. The Miami-Dade County Commission Tuesday approved 12-0 the first reading of an ordinance that would allow the surcharge if it survives a second vote by commissioners. Taxi drivers are seeking the surcharge because of rising gas prices. The item wasn’t discussed Tuesday. The commission’s Economic Development and Human Services Committee is expected to hold a hearing on the issue May 14. After that, the proposal would come back to the commission for permanent action.
SLOT INCOME REPORT: Miami-Dade County Commissioners Tuesday voted to require Mayor Carlos Alvarez to report quarterly to them how much money slot machines generate at pari-mutuel facilities in the county. Voters in January approved the use of slots here. The pact between the county and pari-mutuels calls for an initial payment to the county of $4 million, followed by payments of 1.25% of the gross for the first three years and 1.5% of the estimated $250 million in revenues the fourth year, plus 2% of revenues over $250 million. The resolution, pushed by Commissioner Carlos A. Gimenez, requires detailed statements of revenues, recommendations for their use and setting up a trust for the monies. The report also calls for review of gaming impacts on county traffic, infrastructure, public safety and social services, and any proposals in areas that require commission action.
CONVENTION TAXES UP: Convention Development Tax collections in Miami-Dade rose 2.9% in March from a year earlier, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. Revenues totaled more than $5.9 million, compared to more than $5.7 million last March, the bureau said. The 3% tax helps to support and maintain public facilities such as the convention centers, arenas and auditoriums.
PARK PAVILION: The now largely empty Bicentennial Park may soon boast a new structure in its Southeast corner — a 25,000-square-foot, climate-controlled, temporary pavilion to be used as a venue for meetings, events and tradeshows. Miami commissioners are to be asked today to allow the Bayfront Park Management Trust to negotiate an agreement with Miami-based event-venue company EventStar to make it happen. The trust chose the company through a formal procurement process.
SEARCH STOPPED HERE: Philadelphia-based Diversified Search Ray & Berndtson has acquired Edward W Kelley & Partners’ Miami office, entering the South Florida market. The firm was drawn to Miami for its corporate connections in Florida and Latin America. The new Miami office is to continue to be overseen by John Mestepey, Lauren E. Smith and Marjorie Kean, former managing directors of Edward W Kelley & Partners. DSRB has more than 230 partners supported by more than 260 consultants and researchers operating in 35 countries.
BAY OF PIGS REPORT: A study of a conceptual Bay of Pigs Museum and Library envisions a five-story building with offices, exhibition space, a theater and library, and a 1,000-space parking garage, among other things. No price tag was placed on the project except for the cost of parking, which was estimated at $25,000 to $70,000 per space, depending on whether it was above or below ground. The Miami-Dade County Commission Tuesday accepted county staff’s conceptual report, which said a potential site is 2.76 acres near American Airlines Arena. Staff prepared the report at the commission’s request
BOARD MEMBER EXPRESS: The Miami Dade Expressway Authority’s board of directors boasts two new members. Gov. Charlie Crist appointed Norman Wartman, chairman of the Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee and a member of the original expressway authority board, to complete the unexpired term of former board chairman Daryl Sharpton, who resigned last June. Mr. Crist also appointed Shelly Smith-Fano, director of Miami Dade College’s School of Business’s Hospitality Management Program. The board is made up of volunteers offering transportation, business and professional expertise, as well as civic, environmental, county and state interest and commitment. The governor appoints five, Miami-Dade County commissioners seven. The Florida Department of Transportation District Six Secretary also serves.
SPANISH VISITOR: The training ship of the Spanish Armada, Juan Sebastian de Elcano, is to visit the Port of Miami May 15-20. The ship, named after Spanish explorer Juan Sebastián Elcano, captain of Ferdinand Magellan’s last exploratory fleet, is 370 feet long and the world’s third-largest Tall Ship — a large, traditionally rigged sailing vessel. It was built in 1927 in Cadiz, Spain. The ship will not be open to the public while in Miami but will be visible at the port’s Terminal J.
NEW CRUISE SHIP: The Norwegian Sky, which can accommodate 2,002 passengers, will become part of the Port of Miami’s cruise lineup this year, port officials said. The vessel, part of Norwegian Cruise Lines, will make three- and four-day cruises to the Bahamas starting July 14. It will stop on grand Bahamas Island, Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay. "This new addition to our cruise ship line-up represents approximately 400,000 passengers to our annual count and an estimated $4.4 million in annual revenues," Port Director Bill Johnson said in a statement.
GOING GREEN: Miami Mayor Manny Diaz is to propose a slew of "green" legislation to commissioners today (5/8), including creating a "green fleets" effort to cut both fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5% a year by eliminating unnecessary vehicles and trips, as well as using alternative fuels. He hopes to create a "Green Space Management Fund" to handle voluntary contributions and city-appropriated funds to be used to acquire and preserve public green space. The mayor is proposing also "environmentally preferable purchasing" guidelines. Commissioners agreed at his request last month to expedite the plan review process for proposed green buildings and are to give the final OK today.
MIAMI 21 MONEY: Frustrated with Miami’s proposed zoning code’s lengthy planning process, commissioners last month questioned whether design firm Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. should be paid a requested $510,000 on top of an agreed to $1.7 million. They deferred a vote on the Miami 21 payment and are to take the issue up again today (5/8). Commissioners need to decide whether to continue with the project or kill it, Commissioner Angel Gonzalez said in April. If the commission doesn’t want to pay, "let’s disconnect the tubes and let it die… Let’s start working on another program."
CORRECTION: Miami commissioners were not asked to approve past fees but were asked to engage continued outside legal help after already spending $495,000 in legal fees related to a Watson Island project. They deferred a vote.