Making good on a promise to establish a new look for West Kendall, Miami-Dade District 11 Commissioner Juan C. Zapata has proposed a government center for the area and a charrette to control N. Kendall Drive growth west of Florida’s Turnpike.
Both propositions were advanced before commissioners on May 7 after receiving an affirmative 3-0 vote from the Miami-Dade Infrastructure and Capital Improvements Committee which Zapata now chairs since taking office in January.
Zapata’s resolution for a government office to serve West Kendall residents calls for a study by Mayor Carlos Gimenez to determine feasibility of constructing a “West Dade Government Center” or, by purchase or lease, establish an office where services may be consolidated.
“It’s important to bring county government closer to the people,” he told the committee in asking for its support. His comments caused District 4’s Sally A. Heyman to recall when the county provided Team Metro services in 12 offices throughout Miami-Dade County
“At this time, the nearest government complex for compliance and building issues is located on Coral Way,” noted Bernardo Escobar, chief aide to Zapata. “For many other matters, West Kendall citizens often make trips downtown on property taxes and homestead exemptions, among others.”
Some services now requiring special trips to scattered county offices involve such simple matters as obtaining a dog license or applying for a handicapped driver’s permit tag to hang on a vehicle mirror support.
Under Mayor Gimenez, Miami-Dade government consolidated services under a Department of Permitting, Environment and Regulatory Affairs, bringing together the county permitting, regulatory and environmental services in the center at 11905 Coral Way.
The charrette proposed by Zapata is similar to a five-year study recently completed on Bird Road between SR 826 (Palmetto Expressway) and Florida’s Turnpike, and blocks contributing to its appearance, north and south of SW 40th Street.
New overlays revising current land use and zoning would control future growth by limiting a current mix of residential and commercial to stricter environmental and spatial standards, leading to shaded sidewalks and beautified parking lots.
“Such a plan would utilize the existing county planning staff without requiring a special budget appropriation to get underway,” Escobar noted.
In recent weeks, Zapata has continued his efforts to push for stronger government services in West Kendall that may lead to its incorporation, a move he supported during his early years of county service as the district’s Community Council chair in 1996-98 and as state representative for eight years.
Zapata also has a proposed a potential incorporation area of approximately 137,000 residents, west of Florida’s Turnpike to Krome Avenue and south of Bird Road to SW152nd Street, but the charrette is restricted to Kendall Drive improvements, not a new city designation, Escobar said.
“Like the Bird Road study that led to implementations to improve existing parking, sidewalks, and landscaping, the charrette will only study areas within the blocks, north and south of Kendall Drive that would have an effect on how the main thoroughfare can be improved in future years.”
At a mid-April meeting of Community Council 11, Zapata told those attending that a series of improvements was needed in West Kendall, including the organization of a Parks Committee to help direct county park improvements where most needed as well as supporting connection of bike paths to park areas.
On Jan. 31, he told the Greater Kendall Business Association that “Local government places you closer to the people you serve, that is why it is in your best interest to become active in any effort to achieve incorporation.”