Mayor, Council discuss wish list for town improvements

Government By David Snelling, Reporter Thursday, January 14, 2021

Mayor Manny Cid met with individual councilmembers to set goals for enhancing the town.

       “One of the things I would like to see in the next four years is addressing the issues that are important to you guys,”

Cid said Dec. 2 while meeting with Councilwoman Marilyn Ruano.

     Councilmembers listed many topics on their wish lists: drainage; sidewalk repairs and safety lighting; upgrading Optimist Park; speeding; traffic and even building a facility with a gym and meeting spaces.

     Councilman Carlos Alvarez, who is the principal at a charter school, also listed establishing a town charter school as one of his goals, according to minutes from the sunshine meeting.

     Officials will have to find ways to pay for the improvements out of the town’s $43 million budget without raising taxes, another goal several listed.

       “Our meeting was productive and covered a variety of issues we have been focusing on as a council,” Vice Mayor Luis Collazo said about his session with Cid.

      “A minority of our discussion was on tackling our ongoing infrastructure needs without necessarily increasing our taxes, and looking at alternatives for funding for our most critical infrastructure needs,” he said.

     Councilman Joshua Dieguez said he and Cid discussed traffic issues.  

He said the stalled ramps project from the Gratigny Parkway at Northwest 67th Avenue was slowing progress of the town’s transportation program.

     “Therefore, focusing on infrastructure, particularly drainage, is a strong focus for me over the coming year,” Dieguez said.

     Alvarez also said he wants to see better lighting for pedestrian crosswalks on Fairway Drive and

Montrose Road and repairs made to the exercise equipment in Picnic Park West.

     Another goal Alvarez has for the town is a multi-purpose facility with a gym, classrooms for extracurricular programs and meeting rooms for town committees.

     The meeting between Cid and Ruano was cordial.

     There was tension between the two during the 2020 election season. Cid had appointed Ruano to the council in 2017. Last year she considered running against him, and from the dais had criticized Cid’s decisions.

     During the election, Cid endorsed her opponent, town committee volunteer and political novice Raymond Garcia.

     Ruano won reelection by 183 votes; Cid ran unopposed and won another four-year term.

     Though the town council split their endorsements in the Ruano-Garcia race, Cid called for unity at a Nov. 17  swearing-in ceremony for new members and the reelected officials.

     During their goal-making meeting, Ruano, an accountant, and Cid agreed their issues of stormwater drainage, sidewalk repairs and fixing up Optimist Park deserve the most attention, depending upon available funding.

     For Ruano, drainage  became personal after Tropical Storm Eta dumped a once-in-a-decade, 10.25  inches of rain over three days in November, which caused massive flooding on the west side of town.

     Drainage projects -- along Northwest 92nd Avenue and Northwest 146th Street – are underway.

     “West Lake is going to be awesome with the drainage work being done there,” Cid said.

    But Ruano said the town has funded past drainage projects and flooding continues.

     “Spending money on drainage and not getting results is pointless,” she said during her meeting with Cid.

     Ruano lives in Royal Palm Estates along Miami Lakes Drive at Northwest 82nd Avenue.

     “I couldn’t leave my house for two days,” she said. “My community looked like a river.”

    Ruano suggested more town oversight of contractors and what kind of drainage systems are being installed.

     Ruano said she’d also like to see a way to divert rainwater that floods Optimist Park.

     “We can work on small improvements like the dugouts and some other areas of the park that are falling apart,” Ruano said.

     Cid said the challenge to making major renovations to the park is getting funding from the Miami-Dade County School Board for the large of portion of the park it owns.

     “The problem with Miami Lakes Optimist Park is when it rains a little bit, people can’t play because there is not retention there,” Cid said.

     Potholes are damaging motorists’ tires and cracked sidewalks make walking unsafe, the two agreed.

     “I’m riding my bike along Northwest 87th Avenue and I have to jump over or swerve to avoid hitting the potholes,” Cid said.

     Councilmembers Tony Fernandez and Jeffrey Rodriguez could not be reached for comment.

 

Photo courtesy of the Town of Miami Lakes.

 

 

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