Street Closure Park Plan Revisted At Gables Meeting
By Candice Ventra
Some Coral Gables commissioners said they are reluctant about going ahead with the closure of Biltmore Way to accommodate a proposed city administrative building and an expansion of Merrick Park.
At the start of Tuesday’s commission meeting Dorothy Thomson voiced her concern about the closure.
The Gables commission accepted on June 5 a construction bid of $698,415 toward traffic circulation improvements related to a new 60,000-square-foot annex to city hall and an expansion of adjacent Merrick Park.
The improvements include closing Biltmore Way to traffic and converting Andalusia Avenue from one- to two-way.
Ms. Thomson said she was not comfortable with spending that much on a what she called a "premature" project.
She recalled a June 20 discussion by the Miami-Dade County Commission on the street closure. Commissioners questioned the city’s authority to close public streets.
"It seems to me certain issues between the city and the county should be resolved before proceeding," Ms. Thomson said. "I do not think it’s prudent to ignore the concerns of another governmental body that may or may not take precedence over city commission action."
At a May Gables commission meeting, however, Ms. Thomson voted against deferring a public hearing on the issue. Then, several angry residents turned out to speak against the closures.
Coral Gables Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli said the county did not inform him or Gables commissioners about plans to discuss the street closure.
"I think what the county is doing is a red herring," Mr. Valdes-Fauli said. "They didn’t bother to speak to us."
Commissioner William Kerdyk Jr. said the issue could be easily resolved by leaving the decision to city residents. He moved for a referendum that would allow a vote on the street closures. The motion was not seconded.
He said residents should also be allowed to vote on whether the city should build the administration annex, which he opposes.