It is impossible for me to believe that it has been eight years since I was elected to the Palmetto Bay Village Council and that I will be leaving my seat in early November. I am term-limited by our charter; a concept I firmly believe in.
What is very exciting is to think back about what has been accomplished in these eight years and my role in all of this.
Before we incorporated, the area encompassing our village was not even able to be identified by anyone as a geographic entity. The Miami Herald, when listing houses for sale, at times called us South Dade, at times East Kendall, and other times just didn’t list our home sales at all. We were an insignificant part of unincorporated Miami-Dade.
I remember writing an article for Miami’s Community Newspapers to support incorporation describing my disappointment that no cohesive community existed — we were just a bedroom suburb with no identity.
What a difference eight years have made! Palmetto Bay is among the top municipalities in the county. Our residents are proud of the village and truly have the sense of belonging to a community, a feeling that didn’t exist before.
Our policing unit members deserve the respect and high regards our residents hold them in, carrying out neighborhood patrols and having the quickest response time in the county.
We are truly the “City of Parks,” with the village winning multiple awards for this. There is no comparison when one looks at the number and quality of our park and recreation facilities before incorporation and what we all enjoy now.
Whereas before we were “underwater” after heavy rains, our drainage projects have resulted in dry streets. Our streets are being paved, our traffic is being controlled, and after some work, our building and zoning and permitting departments now are customer friendly.
We have undergone considerable capital expansion, including our Library/ Community Center and Ludivici Park, Palmetto Bay Park, Coral Reef Park, Thallata Park, our Dog Park, and our soon-to-be-opened new Village Hall. Our village government has set an example of efficiency, honesty, and transparency to be proud of.
From an economic point we have been exceedingly conservative and fiscally sound. Our government has remained “lean” and outsourcing has been a byword of our village. All of our expansion and development have been done without any increase in our millage rate, which is among the lowest in the county. We accomplished this despite paying a “ransom” of more than $1.5 million a year to the county, a payment that with much work we finally ended this year. We have built up a reserve of more than $6 million.
A few months ago we consolidated our debts and municipal bond rating companies gave us an AA rating, one of only a handful of governments to receive this is the entire State of Florida. We have won awards each of the past several years for our budget and accounting, and each year have saved a considerable amount of money that has gone into reserves. During these eight years we have received more than $18 million in grant money and I am proud to have been an integral part of this effort.
The project I am most proud of is our Library/Community Center/Amphitheater. The county had been planning to build a storefront library for us. When the land on which the library is built was purchased by the village, my wife and I championed the idea of building the library on that property and expanding the project to include other facilities. Several years of hard work were well worth the effort.
The Palmetto Bay Library complex is a shining success for our community and in September had more visitors than either of the much larger libraries in Pinecrest or Naranja. My wife, Arlene, and I were truly proud and honored when the village council passed a resolution naming “The Edward and Arlene Feller Community Room and Amphitheater.”
It has been an absolute pleasure to have served these eight years together with such a fine group of people as my fellow members of the village council. To have been able to work together with my other council members — all of whom only cared for what was good for our village, never for what was best for themselves — is a memory I will always be proud of.
I would sincerely like to thank the residents of Palmetto Bay for the opportunity you have given me these past eight years. Nothing will ever equal it. Thank you!, Thank you!, Thank you!. I will miss it.