Mayor lists accomplishments during ‘State of City’ address

By Maria Rosa Higgins Fallon….
Coral Gables Mayor Don Slesnick gave a passionate “State of the City” speech in front of hundreds of local business leaders during the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce meeting of Sept. 16.

“We live in a great city with a promising future, and we need to give our best effort to fulfill our destiny,” Slesnick said, reminding the audience that for only 28 cents of every property tax dollar, this city government provides law enforcement, fire protection, emergency rescue, garbage and trash collection, recycling, parks and recreation programming, street resurfacing, traffic calming and the planting of trees and foliage in public spaces.

“Each of these municipal services has a direct impact on the quality of our daily lives,” he added.

Mayor Slesnick reported that the city’s management team has focused on actions that will lay the foundation for a fiscally sound municipality for decades to come. These structural changes, such as the lowering of personnel costs, have required the close coordination between the city manager and the commission.

Among the government’s accomplishments for this past year, Mayor Slesnick highlighted:

TRAFFIC CALMING AND SAFETY

• Construction of more traffic circles and roundabouts;

• Extension of the median and sidewalk improvements on Ponce de Leon north towards SW Eighth Street, and

• Completion of the plans for the Segovia median.

HISTORIC PRESERVATION

• Renovation of Venetian Pool now in its second year;

• Refurbishment of the Country Club Prado entrance feature, and

• Restoration of the 1930s-era Old Police and Fire Station.

PARKS AND RECREATION

• Purchase of new park land;

• Construction of new recreational amenities at Riviera Park, and

• Renewal of Salvadore Park’s playground equipment.

CULTURE

• The Coral Gables Museum, which opens on Oct. 10, for which Mayor Slesnick thanked the Fewell family for making a $2 million donation;

• The Coral Gables Art Cinema which opens on Oct. 15, and

• The adoption of the Public Art Master Plan.

MAJOR PROJECTS

• The Biltmore Hotel lease agreement and payment schedule negotiations;

• The re-birth of the Coral Gables Country Club, and

• The University of Miami Development Agreement which creates a true partnership and a shared vision between the city and the university.

CITY CLERK’S OFFICE

• Creation of new software that allows citizens to search public records online.

PUBLIC EDUCATION

• Coral Gables Pre-K to Eighth Grade Preparatory Academy created on the campuses of Coral Gables Elementary and Merrick Educational Center;

• New International High School @ the Gables based upon cooperative programming with the nations of Spain, France and Italy, and

• New Coral Gables High School Academy of Business and Management. Mayor Slesnick also heralded the city’s ongoing programs which focus on public safety and security; the accessible communications through e-News, CGTV and coralgables.com which allow residents to have one of the most open governments in Florida; great youth activities and senior programs; twice-a-week backyard garbage pickup along with the once-a-week trash removal and the once-a-week recycling collection, and the free trolley service. “The past decade has been a joyful experience of community involvement for both [wife] Jeannett [Slesnick] and me, and we are truly grateful for the opportunity for service which you have given us,” the mayor concluded. “Let me assure you that the state of your city is healthy and vibrant.”


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