‘A Sunny Makeover’

 By: Bari Auerbach

Sunny Isles Beach recently celebrated the city’s 13th anniversary accompanied by all the excitement of the Offshore Powerboat Challenge and gala festivities at Samson Oceanfront Park…But just before all the big parties started, a Miami Herald front page story summed up the swift success of Sunny Isles Beach in just one impressive passage: “[In neighboring Golden Beach], some homes waited for buyers as big-buck spenders opted instead for a villa in Fisher Island or ‘egads’ something inconceivable a few years before – next door in booming Sunny Isles Beach.”

While the cost of Golden Beach’s threeyear “makeover” was $25 million, this fiscal year alone (‘09-2010), the Sunny Isles Beach Capital Improvement Project fund totaled $18,978,950 (comprised primarily of fund balance reserves, grants and donations). Since the city incorporated in 1997, sweeping beautification and capital improvements have earned Sunny Isles Beach the moniker Florida’s Riviera – and today, “the best keeps getting better” thanks to visionary members of the City Commission committed to ensuring residents enjoy the highest quality of life.

“In the six years [I’ve served] as Mayor of Sunny Isles Beach, property values have risen from $2.5 billion to $6.0 billion while the tax millage dropped to 2.65 from 3.35 within that same period,” explains Mayor Norman S. Edelcup. “Additionally, we are a fiscally sound city with $10 million in reserves equal to about 50 percent of one year’s operating budget.

“Sunny Isles Beach is a young vibrant city. We’ve built a new K-8 Community School in partnership with Miami-Dade County; doubled the number of parks from four to eight and recently acquired land to create two additional parks on the south side of our city.”

City Manager Rick Conner’s recent budget message highlights the “sunny makeover” the city continues to experience and predicts a bright future unfolding as the following milestones are reached:

• Beautification, parks and open-space enhancements; a solid infrastructure, especially in the area of public facilities, transportation, drainage and undergrounding of utilities;

• An economically functional, pedestrianfriendly, world-class streetscape on Collins Avenue and along Sunny Isles Boulevard;

• A professional, friendly and efficient local government that provides great city amenities and services;

• Retail, restaurants and other private sector elements that match changing demographics of an upscale community;

• An excellent school system to attract younger families. The city’s Capital Improvements Plan for this fiscal year encompasses initiatives including:

182nd Street and Collins Avenue traffic signal; Atlantic Isle bridge; Bella Vista Bay Park expansion; central island drainage.; citywide signage phase II; Collins Avenue median closure; Collins Avenue streetscape phase II; FPL undergrounding; Golden Shores Community Park renovation; Government Center modifications; Heritage Park and garage construction; Land Bank (acquisition funds); Newport Fishing Pier renovation; pedestrian and emergency vehicular bridge; restroom and shower additions at Pelican Community Park; Sunny Isles Boulevard street improvements; Town Center Park skateboard park; vacant lot landscaping; and stormwater management fund As the wheels of progress continue to turn, the City Commission recently approved an ordinance authorizing the issuance of [not exceeding] $15,000,000 of capital improvement revenue bonds.

According to City Manager Rick Conner, the bank qualified loan from SunTrust with a 15-year term and amortization rate of 4.2 percent is “very favorable given today’s market.” Quarterly payments are slated to start on October 1, 2010. Sunny Isles Beach also recently received major media attention when it was announced a proposed aquatic center could be built in the city in partnership with Wometco Enterprises, owner/operator of the Miami Seaquarium.

And now, residents can look forward to even more parks coming to the south end of the city on the west side of Collins Avenue – extending from Sunny Isles Boulevard to the south entrance of the city. In January, the City Commission approved a resolution naming the South Collins Park System as “The Intracoastal Parks.” Individual arms were also designated and named as follows:

Sailfish Park, Dolphin Park, Stingray Park, Manatee Park, Marlin Park and Tarpon Park. City Manager Rick Conner noted family names in honor of benefactors will also be added at a later date.

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