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Front Page » Top Stories » Museum Park Not In First Round Of Bond Funding

Museum Park Not In First Round Of Bond Funding

Written by on May 12, 2005

By Suzy Valentine
Three museums hoping to move to Bicentennial Park in downtown Miami are not on a recommended list of first-round allocations of Miami-Dade County’s $2.9 billion General Obligation Bond.

The most recent distribution plan for the money, approved Tuesday by the county’s bond committee, is set to be discussed May 17 by the county commission.

The first phase of funds disbursement will be for $250 million, with money flowing as early as June. In the first round, 195 projects are to receive funds.

Money from the bond is to be distributed over 15 years with millage rates capped at 0.39. The rate is based on projected growth in tax rolls of 9.5% over the next year and 5.5% a year thereafter.

Under the pending schedule, the three museums fall into the second phase of financing from the bond. But the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, the Miami Art Museum and the Museum of Science & Planetarium must raise $25 million, $100 million and $150 million, respectively, before the county will match the funds.

In the meantime, the City of Miami has launched a master plan to turn Bicentennial into Museum Park. It will pay designers Cooper Robertson up to $1.4 million for the plan.

Another arts project to miss out on financing this year and next is the South Miami-Dade Cultural Center.

Capital-improvements coordinator Roger Hernstadt said $29.3 million was earmarked for cultural projects – almost double the $15.8 million allocated to housing in the first round.

The Cuban Museum is set to receive $2 million and the Florida Grand Opera $4 million – the largest allocation to a single entity – in the first allocations.

Michael Spring, director of the county’s Department of Cultural Affairs, gave a breakdown Tuesday of arts and cultural entities receiving bond money:

nCarver Theatre, $1 million.

nCoconut Grove Playhouse, $1.7 million.

nCuban Museum, $2 million.

nFairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, $2 million.

nFlorida Grand Opera, $4 million.

nLyric Theatre, $1.5 million.

NMetroZoo, $2.5 million.

nVirginia Key Beach Park, $2 million.

Nvizcaya, $1.7 million.

nWolfsonian FIU, $1.35 million.

Under the plan, the Hialeah High School Performing Arts Center won’t receive any funds. It has been allocated $500,000.

"I was wondering with what’s in this package if everyone’s going to be happy with this," said Commissioner Katy Sorenson, "not that we’re ever going to make everyone happy."

Commissioner Carlos Gimenez said Tuesday that the first $250 million of funding was based on conservative projections. Growth in tax rolls in the next year could be closer to 12% than 9.5%, he said, and the county could have financed $15 million more in projects.

"I think if we’re all somewhat unhappy," said Mr. Gimenez, "it’s a good process."

There are winners and losers in the first allocation of General Obligation Bond funds approved Tuesday by a Miami-Dade County committee.

The county commission plans to review the timetable for distributing the first round of funds, $250 million, on May 17.

The breakdown shows disparity among the county’s 13 districts, with the top beneficiary receiving almost three times as much as the bottom.

County Commissioner Sally Heyman’s District 4 has been allocated $19.6 million. The district stretches north-to-south between Golden and Miami beaches and west to Miami Shores.

County Commissioner Natacha Seijas’ District 13 is to receive $7.2 million from the first sale in June or July. The district covers much of Hialeah, Miami Lakes and some unincorporated areas including Palm Springs North and the Country Club of Miami.

Neither commissioner participates in the bond subcommittee that approved the allocation.

In addition to District 4, the breakdowns recommended by committee for the first bond sale are:

•District 6 – West Miami, Miami Springs and parts of Coral Gables, Hialeah, Miami and unincorporated Miami-Dade: $16.6 million, or 6.6%.

•District 12 – Doral, parts of Hialeah, Hialeah Gardens, Medley, Sweetwater, Virginia Gardens and some unincorporated areas: $16 million, or 6.4%.

•District 7 – Key Biscayne, parts of Miami and Coral Gables, South Miami, Pinecrest and some unincorporated Miami-Dade County: $13.4 million, or 5.4%.

•District 3 – parts of Miami including Liberty City, Little Haiti, Overtown, the Upper Eastside, Allapattah and Wynwood and Miami Shores: $11.6 million, or 4.6% .

•District 5 – parts of Miami, Miami Beach and unincorporated Fisher Island: $11.5 million, or 4.6%.

District 8 – Cutler Ridge, parts of Homestead, Leisure City, Old Cutler, Naranja and Princeton: $10.7 million, or 4.3%.

•District 2 – parts of North Miami Beach to the Miami River: $10.3 million, or 4.1%.

•District 1 – Carol City, Norland, Crestview, Rolling Oaks, Bunche Park, Scott Lakes, Andover, Opa-locka and parts of North Miami Beach and North Miami: $8.5 million, or 3.4%.

•District 10 – parts of Kendall and Westchester: $7.9 million, or 3.2%.

•District 9 – Southwest Miami-Dade, including Florida City and Homestead: $7.6 million, or 3%.

•District 11 – unincorporated areas of west Miami-Dade: $7.4 million, or 3%.

•District 13 – $7.2 million, or 2.9%.

District expenditures account for about $148 million of spending in the first round of distribution. Countywide, multidistrict and unincorporated municipal service-area funds and the cost of the issuance make up the remaining $102 million.