Written by Miami Today on May 15, 2008
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
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TWO TENTS? Not only could Bicentennial Park soon boast a 25,000-square-foot, climate-controlled, temporary pavilion in its Southeast corner, but Cirque de Soleil could also return. Miami commissioners voted to allow the Bayfront Park Management Trust to negotiate an agreement with Miami-based event-venue company EventStar to erect the tent to be used as a venue for meetings, events and tradeshows. It would not disrupt plans for Museum Park, officials assured commissioners. During the discussion, Commissioner Tomás Regalado asked also "what happened to Cirque de Soleil?" Discussions are ongoing for a potential return visit this fall, Trust Executive Director Tim Schmand said.
WIDE ROAD: The City of Doral, with Miami-Dade County, is to widen Northwest 107th Avenue from Northwest 66th Street to 74th Street into a four-lane roadway with a landscaped median. That stretch is now two lanes. One lane in either direction is to remain open throughout construction. Other improvements are to include new sidewalks, curbs, drainage, pavement markings, signs and lightings. Construction is to be complete by year’s end.
METROMOVER MAY STAY FREE: A Miami-Dade County Transit Committee agenda Wednesday was absent a proposal to charge riders for using the downtown Metromover. In their April meeting, committee members had tossed about proposals to reduce the $9.2 million deficit in the county’s Transit Agency, including charging 25 cents to use the Metromover. Free rides on the Metromover are funded by the half percent transportation sales tax that county voters approved in 2002. On Wednesday, committee discussions were to focus on resolutions that would increase fares by 50 cents on Metrobus, Metrorail and special transportation and a 2-cent-a-gallon gas tax. Also on the agenda was a proposal to institute distance-based and peak and non-peak fares for transit riders. Any committee action must ultimately go before the 13-member county commission.
COMP PLAN COMPLETE: Miami commissioners this week adopted amendments to the city’s comprehensive land-use plan after hours of public hearing last week and commission discussion Tuesday. Amending the plan is part of a state-mandated process required every seven years. Miami received a one-year extension from Florida’s Department of Community Affairs and would hit its second deadline to adopt the amendments in August. Major agreed-upon changes include adding notice measures and removing the word "port" from the plan’s river element.
EATING ON THE GO: At the request of Commissioner Dorrin Rolle, Miami-Dade commissioners are to vote Tuesday on whether to end a county ban on eating or drinking on transit station platforms.
AIRPORT NEIGHBORHOOD CONCLAVE: A Miami International Airport Neighborhood Relations Committee is in the works. County commissioners Rebeca Sosa and Jose "Pepe" Diaz have an item on Tuesday’s commission agenda that would create a nine-member committee to advise the commission. Topics on the committee’s agenda: aircraft noise, traffic around the airport, auto access to the airport, construction in and around the airport, air quality, aircraft emissions and communications between the airport and adjacent residential areas. Two members each would come from the districts of Commissioners Diaz and Sosa. One member would be nominated by each of the mayors of Miami, Miami Springs, Doral, Coral Gables and Virginia Gardens. Members would three-year terms and be term-limited to eight consecutive years.
SOUND IDEA: While airport neighbors are talking in the proposed committee, Commissioner Sosa also wants to be sure that noise abatement is top of everyone’s agenda. Commissioners are also to vote Tuesday on her proposal to reinstitute the Aircraft Noise Abatement Task Force for Miami International Airport. There was such a group, but it passed out of existence. She’s proposing a 20-member panel with eight commissioners having a member each in their districts and mayors of 12 municipalities naming one member each to three-year terms. The organization would "explore, consider and recommend programs and practices that may be helpful in reducing or mitigating aircraft noise impacts."
RIGHT TO KNOW: Miami commissioners stood up for residents this week, unanimously voting to include notice provisions in the city’s comprehensive land-use plan against advice from the administration. Staffers said such measures should be part of the zoning code instead. But commissioners equated the comp plan to the city’s constitution and said residents deserve the right to know ahead of time when special permits are to be given, and to have 30 days — up from the existing 15 — to appeal them.
HOME, CONDO RESALES DIVE: Fewer than half as many single-family homes in Miami-Dade County were sold by real estate brokers and 46% fewer condos were resold by brokers in the first quarter of this year than in the first quarter of 2007, the Florida Association of Realtors reported Tuesday. The plunge in sales from 1,579 homes to 796 was far greater than the statewide decline of 26% for existing homes, and the fall from 1,611 condo sales to 866 was greater than the 23% statewide drop for condo resales in that period. The average home resale price fell 15% in Miami-Dade to $328,600 from $386,300 — the same percentage decline as the statewide drop. But while condos resold statewide for an average of 17% less than last year’s first quarter, in Miami-Dade condo resales yielded a tiny bit more, up from an average of $278,200 to $278,600.
ARTS CENTER FINANCES UP: For the third straight month, the financial conditions at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County continue to improve. Occupancy costs for the year total $3.4 million, yielding an operating budget surplus of $1.3 million. According to a county report, the center is expected to end the fiscal year Sept. 30 with a balanced budget. The center’s overall budget is $26,622,000, of which a third comes from the county via Convention Development Tax revenue and Tourist Development Tax funds. "Things have stabilized," said Ricky Arriola, chairman of the center’s trust. "Costs are under control and ticket sales are up 26% over last year. Those are all reasons for the improved performance."
GOING GREEN: Miami got a little greener last week after commissioners approved several environmentally friendly measures proposed by Mayor Manny Diaz. The city is to create a "green fleets" initiative to reduce both fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions through eliminating unnecessary vehicles and redundant trips, as well as using alternative fuels. A "Green Space Management Fund" is to serve as an account for voluntary contributions and city-appropriated funds for acquiring and preserving public green space. "Environmentally preferable" guidelines are to govern purchasing in the city. Commissioners also gave final approval to expediting the plan review process for proposed green buildings.
BUSINESS WITH THE MILITARY: The Miami-Dade Defense Alliance is to host its annual "Doing Business with the Military" workshop from 8 a.m. to noon Friday at the Robert Ballard Armory, 700 NW 28th St. The event is open to businesses interested in working with the military and other government entities. The Beacon Council, the county’s economic development arm, created the alliance to enhance and retain military installations and defense-related industries locally. The Department of Defense spends close to $800 million a year in the county, creating more than 47,000 high-paying jobs and a $3.6 billion economic impact. The annual business development workshop brings the business community together with procurement representatives from the local military and other federal, state and local government agencies. Participants include the US Southern Command, Homestead Air Reserve Base and others. Registration: $40. Details: (786) 214-3705.
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