2019: Year in Review

Featured By Megan Jacobo and David Snelling Reporters Thursday, January 2, 2020

With the New Year comes reflection. During 2019, Miami Lakes saw the building of new rental housing, recurring traffic woes and the return of familiar politicians to local and county elections.

Pidermann begins town manager job

Though he was hired at the end of 2018, Town Manager Edward Pidermann began working as the new Miami Lakes town manager on Feb. 2.
He replaced Alex Rey, who stepped down after 16 years.
Pidermann was formerly an assistant chief of management services for
Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue and won the town job over five finalists.
An immediate challenge was to balance an austere $20.7 million operating budget for 2019-2020.
After Hurricane Dorian devastated The Bahamas, the town council approved Pidermann’s request to explore obtaining up to a $20 million line of credit in case a natural disaster strikes Miami Lakes.
He also has to manage traffic, one of residents’ biggest concerns.
Synchronized traffic lights and tolled express lanes on the Palmetto Expressway are credited with alleviating some congestion.
But the number of vehicles traveling through town could multiply significantly if two bridges that cross Interstate 75 at Northwest 154th Street and Northwest 170th Street are opened.
The town sued Hialeah, Miami-Dade County and contractors over work being done at NW 170th St.
There is also the ongoing court fight by former mayor Michael Pizzi, who is seeking $2.5 million for his legal bills after he was the subject of an FBI investigation.
A federal grand jury found Pizzi not guilty of conspiracy to commit extortion and bribery.

Editor of The Miami Laker dies

Roger Alan Reece, 81, led The Miami Laker community newspaper for more than three decades until his death on Aug. 4 after a brief illness.
In the newspaper’s pages, Reece celebrated small town life and the people who live in Miami Lakes and neighboring communities.
After careers in radio and public relations, which included having his own firm, Reece began working for The Graham Companies in 1983.
The Graham Companies owns the newspaper.
Former Florida
Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham called him “a fine man” whose “talent and friendship will be missed.”

Miami Lakers aid The Bahamas

Miami Lakers watched with dread as Category 5 Hurricane Dorian destroyed Abaco Island and Grand Bahama Island over Labor Day weekend.
Residents turned their empathy into action by donating food, water, first-aid kits, flashlights, diapers and other items for
Bahamians left with nothing after the storm descended upon them.
Robert Mathieu, 10, shown above, a fourth grader at Bob Graham
Education Center, asked friends for relief supplies rather than birthday presents. His classmates stepped up, as did kids at other schools in town with their own drives for supplies.
BankUnited employees gave to a relief fund for the American Red Cross, gifts matched by the
Miami Lakes-based company. It presented a $35,066 check to the charity to help hurricane victims.
Local companies Brown and Brown Insurance and restaurants NQC Miami and Anacapri Miami Lakes also donated goods, filling rooms at town hall.
Systems Furniture
Services provided trucks and pallets to haul the supplies to Tropical Park, where Miami-Dade County organized the donations that were shipped to the islands in cabin cruisers.

Quesada wins hearts in battle with cystic fibrosis

Daniel Quesada, 18, shown above, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis shortly after birth, died Sept. 25 while he was in North Carolina, awaiting a double lung transplant.
Residents rallied behind the young Miami Lakes man. The town council in October renamed
Meadow Walk -- which borders Graham Park between Bull Run Road and Miami Lakeway North -- “Running with Danny Lane.”
There are plans to plant an oak tree in the park, where 5K races and walks raised funds to help
Quesada pay his bills.
Quesada loved to fish and, despite the disease that led to his death, ran in cross country meets for as long as he was able.
Quesada competed for Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic School in Miami Lakes and Christopher Columbus High School in Miami.
“The world is not dimmer without him, it’s brighter because he was here,” Columbus High said on Twitter.

The Bridge Battle

Miami Lakes and Hialeah clashed over the city’s plan to open a bridge that spans Interstate 75 at Northwest 170th Street to vehicles and extend the road project east into the town.
Miami Lakes officials and residents objected to the anticipated increase in traffic that will contribute to gridlock.
Despite Miami Lakes’ lawsuit filed in October against Hialeah, Miami-Dade County, the
Lennar Corporation and Downrite Engineering Company to halt construction on the town’s portion of the road, Hialeah submitted a right-of-way permit to the town to finish the project.
The town has built a pocket park at the site, shown in the photo above.
Town Attorney Raul Gastesi said Hialeah can’t proceed until the lawsuit is resolved.
Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez told The Miami Laker the overpass would connect Hialeah west of I-75 -- where thousands of homes have been built and residential construction continues -- to Miami Lakes and Palm Springs North.
With the bridge currently closed to traffic, Hialeah residents drive south to Northwest 138th Street to get to Miami Lakes, the Palmetto Expressway or Northwest 87th Avenue to I-75, Hernandez said.

Penelas, Bovo join county mayoral race

Two local politicians -- Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo, Jr. and former county mayor and Miami Lakes’ property owner Alex Penelas – filed paperwork to replace Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who’s term-limited out of office next year.
The two candidates have clashed over the county’s transit problems.
Bovo said Penelas’ half penny sales tax approved by voters in 2002 that was intended to fund expansion of train and bus transportation didn’t deliver on that promise, according to a report in The Miami Herald.
Penelas said county administrations that served after his team had mismanaged those tax dollars, the
Herald said.
Penelas leads all candidates in fundraising with $730,141, with current County Commissioner Daniella Levin Cava second, with $533,316, according to Miami-Dade County Elections.
Bovo raised $177,227; former county commissioner Juan C. Zapata raised $40,140; County Commissioner Jean Monestime has $34,570, and County Commissioner Xavier Suarez has $14,900 to spend on his campaign.
Political newcomer and businesswoman Monique Barley raised $1,077. Real estate agent Ludmilla Domond has not reported campaign contributions yet.
Former Miami mayoral candidate Robert Ingram Burke also reported zero contributions, as of Dec. 20.

Goleman’s historic season

For the first time in school history, Barbara
Goleman Senior High’s football team nearly achieved a perfect season by finishing 10-1, just one victory shy from the inaugural Greater Miami Athletic Conference’s independent league championship.
The new league gave 12 local high school teams a fair chance to compete after years of defeat by powerhouse schools.
The Gators came to life and dominated most of their opponents on both sides of the football field.
But Dr. Michael Krop Senior High of Miami defeated Goleman 24-20 on Nov. 6 to take the championship.
During the season, the Gators outscored their opponents 420-183 and averaged 38 points per game, a school record.

A teacher, and a Latin Grammy-worthy musician, too

Trumpeter Mario Ortiz, Jr. made his third trip to the Latin Grammys on Nov. 14 but alas, he did not take home the statue for Best Salsa Album for his 55 Aniversario.
A Miami Laker who lives in town with his family, Ortiz teaches music at Joella C. Good Elementary School in Hialeah; he has instructed students for 30 years.
Before he left town for the awards ceremony in Las Vegas, Ortiz told The Miami Laker that his third Latin Grammy nomination was “beyond my wildest dreams and it’s very emotional to me.”

Live, work and play

The Graham Companies opened 6600 Main, a multi-building rental apartment complex on the east end of Main Street.
Residents can walk to work in the town center or to restaurants, gyms, shops or theaters.
The project provides urban style living in a suburban enclave.
In two buildings – one has seven floors, the other five stories – there are 342 one or two bedroom units that rent from $1,820 to $3,000.
The taller building has The Spot Barbershop; Den-Vest (dentist); The Nail Garden; Eli M Boutique and Kairos Hair salon on the ground floor.
The buildings are alongside the town center parking garage. A resident can park on the same level as his or her apartment.
Also, 19 three-story townhomes with two-to-four bedrooms feature amenities such as full-size washers and dryers and two-car garages and rent for $3,500.

Town council turnover

Looking ahead to 2020, four Miami Lakes town council seats will be open.
But so far, only two candidates have filed paperwork to run in the general election on Nov. 4.
Mayor Manny Cid is seeking a second term and is without opposition so far, according to the town website.
Political newcomer
Antonio Fernandez, a member of several town committees, hopes to replace Vice Mayor Nelson
Rodriguez, who’s termed-limited and seeking a seat in the state legislature.
Former Councilman Tim Daubert sought to return to the dais but citing health issues, dropped out of the race in October, leaving Fernandez currently unopposed.
Cid has raised $57,005 and Fernandez raised $9,300, according to their campaign finance reports.
Councilwoman Marilyn Ruano and Councilman Luis Collazo are also facing reelection, but they have yet to open campaign accounts.
The qualifying period for the election begins at noon on July 27 and ends at noon on Aug. 5.
The terms of
councilmembers Jeffrey Rodriguez, Joshua Dieguez and Carlos Alvarez, who were first elected in 2018, will end in 2022.

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