Pizzi settlement is done, Miami Lakes town attorney tells council

Featured By Linda Trischitta, Editor Thursday, June 13, 2024

Miami Lakes will pay former Mayor Michael Pizzi $1.625 million for legal fees for his defense in a federal criminal case, a decision that ends a decade of courtroom battles and payments to lawyers. After a jury found in 2014 that Pizzi was not...

Council reduces Optimist Park bond amount to $19.5 million

Government By Alexandra Herrera, Reporter Thursday, August 4, 2022

    The Town of Miami Lakes has found a way to fund renovations to Miami Lakes Optimist Park with a less expensive bond offering.

     Staff compared an engineering consultant’s cost estimates in the $25 million plan to prices the town already receives from vendors for some items.

    The result was elimination of the second story in a concession stand that saved $691,000, and less expensive prices for fencing. Also cut were tennis court resurfacing and lighting, work already completed this year.

     A $19.5 million proposed 30-year general obligation bond offering amount was announced by Vice Mayor Jeffrey Rodriguez during the July 25 council meeting.

     The move came as town residents have complained at meetings and on social media about potential tax increases to pay off the bonds during a time of rising costs for food, gas and shelter. 

     Councilmembers Luis Collazo and Marilyn Ruano have also resisted the high debt amount, equating it to sticker shock.

    “[Staff] came back with changes and none of them are major, and I believe it is a good change,” Rodriguez said about figures and design changes that employees presented to him that day. “This is a significant decrease [$5.5 million] from $25 million, but still resolves the issues of flooding, parking and the total layout of the park.”

     The second story in the concession stand was targeted because of costs such as an elevator to make it a legally compliant structure for use by people who are disabled.

      He said the upper floor was mostly going to be used by announcers and for storage and was not needed.

     Town Manager Ed Pidermann said if on Nov. 8 voters approve going to the municipal bond market to pay for the park improvements, construction may not begin until 2024.

     Rodriguez said he thought more cuts to the design plans could be made.  Pidermann mentioned planting shorter palm trees – from 16 feet to 8 feet -- as one way to save money. 

    “If we go out to bid and we get bids and it comes back to $17 million, we’re not going to sell $19.5 million in bonds,” Pidermann said. “We’ll sell just the amount of bonds required to complete the project.”

     Councilmembers applauded the proposed reduced debt amount and voted in favor of it.

     Ruano, Collazo and Mayor Manny Cid complained that the new plan was presented on the day they were to vote on the bond ballot language, and that previous requests for changes to the construction plan were not investigated.