The State of the Town address presented by Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall on Nov. 8 touched upon the many improvements to the town, its financial stability and future plans.
During the 7 p.m. event, hosted by Mercedes Benz of Cutler Bay, Mayor MacDougall began by thanking Miami- Dade Commissioner Lynda Bell for her work in reopening the South Dade Government Center so that residents can access many county services there He also thanked Pete Blackwell and his staff at Mercedes Benz for making their facility available for the address.
MacDougall next recognized 52 citizens, past and present, who have contributed to the community, including the late John Cosgrove, the first mayor of Cutler Bay.
The mayor stated that there had been many improvements to the town’s parks system during the past year, with more on the way.
“Completion of the 50-acre Lakes by the Bay Park at no cost to Cutler Bay taxpayers is scheduled for December,” MacDougall said. “Initial work has already been completed on field construction for three baseball/softball fields and two soccer/ football fields that includes an underground drainage system, irrigation, lighting and fencing; a field center building including restrooms, concessions and storage; an exercise course; parking lot; landscaping and park amenities using county funding.”
MacDougall mentioned the upcoming Dec. 3 attempt at a world record longest ribbon cutting at that park.
“Bel-Aire Park improvements were completed, including the relocation, re-grading and re-sodding of the football field, new irrigation system, new sports field lighting, new bleachers and playground equipment,” the mayor said.
MacDougall listed the improvements that had been completed at Saga Lake Park and Saga Bay Park, both of which now have greatly enhanced sports and recreational facilities as well as other amenities.
He went on to mention other topics, including crime and energy.
“A year-to-date comparison of June 2010 versus June 2011 shows that crime has been significantly reduced by 9 percent,” MacDougall said. “Cutler Bay received a State of Florida Energy Office grant to create an Economic Energy Zone Business Attraction Implementation Plan for green businesses.
“We successfully completed the review process for FEMA’s Community Rating System (CRS) – Flood Insurance Discount Program which awarded the town a Class ‘6’ rating that resulted in all of the properties located in the Town’s Special Flood Hazard Area with a 20 percent insurance premium discount.”
MacDougall also told of the renovation of the building that now houses the town council meetings and a new police headquarters. The mayor mentioned that Cutler Bay completed necessary actions to initiate the town’s membership in the Miami-Dade County League of Cities.
The mayor told his audience that the town was awarded grants in FY 2010-11 totaling approximately $355,000 that have been budgeted for use in FY 2011-12 and include a federal stimulus grant for lighting renovation at the Cutler Bay Town Center building, renewal of the grant for the Children’s Trust program and park improvements.
“Additionally, approximately $17 million from the Board of County Commissioners’ Public Transportation Program (PTP) has been awarded to the town for roadway improvements to Caribbean Boulevard and Old Cutler Road,” he said. “The construction of the Old Cutler Road improvements will begin this month and the planning for the Caribbean Boulevard project began this year. Both roadway projects will increase safety, expedite traffic and beautify our town.”
MacDougall stated that in FY 2010-11, the town committed approximately $10 million in park improvements, roads, storm water system, and upgrade of government facilities to support a sustainable economic development program for the area.
“The town is also working with adjoining municipalities to implement the Green Corridor and PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program. The intent of the PACE Program is to enable property owners to borrow money to buy solar panels, wind generators, insulation or shutters for their home.”
The mayor pointed to the accomplishments in working with the school system to achieve the Cutler Bay High School and Cutler Bay Middle School changes many residents have wanted. On the budget side he mentioned the adjustments that have been made.
“In the last three years of our economic downturn, the town has experienced a $3.5 million reduction in revenues,” MacDougall said. “We have nevertheless reduced our tax rate for this fiscal year while instituting many improvement projects. We are still in very good financial condition.
“I am of the belief that with our school improvements, the PACE project and our efforts to improve our business friendly environment, property values will increase as the local economy improves.”
The mayor closed his address by presenting long-time residents Barbara and Tom Condon with the town’s “Citizen of the Year Award.”