Last week was by far the best in Miami’s history. Here’s what was accomplished in four short days.
THE UNDERLINE. In a deal crafted by Miami City Commissioner Francis X. Suarez, the city pledged the considerable sum of fifty million dollars to remake the largest stretch of beautification project that will transform a plain, unattractive trail into a spectacular, linear greenway ultimately connecting Dadeland to Brickell. The initiative was approved unanimously by the city commission.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING TRUST FUND. By a 12-0 vote, the Miami-Dade Commission approved spending ten million dollars from general funds to create a revolving trust fund for affordable housing. The initiative was co-sponsored by half of the entire commission (Commissioners Jordan, Levine-Cava, and Chairman Monestime; and seconded by Commissioner Edmonson), and propelled by a coalition of activist groups that includes “Homes for All” and PACT (“People Acting for Community Together”).
WYNWOOD REDEVELOPMENT. After months of negotiating the developer’s contribution and splitting this gargantuan project proposed by Moishe Mana on approximately 24 acres in Wynwood, the scale of development was fine-tuned to reflect a gradual scaling upward towards the natural barrier created by 5th avenue and I-95. On the East side, the development will slope down to the existing scale of what is now a thriving arts district. Total build-out cost is projected to reach a billion dollars in just the first phase, and it is conditioned on a ten-million dollar cash contribution to the community, negotiated by Chairman Keon Hardemon and Commissioner Suarez, plus another $35 million in infrastructure improvements.
KICKSTARTING SMART. At Wednesday’s county commission budget hearing, I introduced, in general outline, a proposal to fund the two largest rail corridors of five envisioned by the SMART plan, coupled with already approved PD&E studies for another corridor (Baylink), support of a shared use of a corridor already under construction (Coastal Link on the FEC line from downtown to Aventura) and of a trolley loop that constitutes half (Brickell to 71st Avenue) of the East-West connector that has long been the most needed mass transit link in the metropolitan area, and that will ultimately reach to F.I.U and west to 137th avenue.
My proposal was not just idle words. It carried with it a commitment to obtain in the upcoming legislative session a minimum of $40 million in recurring transportation funds (from existing gas taxes and auto tag renewal fees); signing on to the commitment were Senators AniTere Flores, Dwight Bullard and Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, Delegation Chair Jose Felix Diaz, and Representatives Kionne McGhee and Carlos Trujillo. Another $40 million will come from PTP funds (the so-called half-cent sales tax). I have asked that the formula to accomplish that be announced by Mayor Carlos Gimenez at or prior to the second budget hearing, on September 22, 2016.
What $80 million in recurring funds from existing taxes will fund. The combined county and state funds mentioned above can be bonded out (pledged against capital borrowing) to produce more than a billion dollars in immediately available capital. It will be used to immediately start laying down track on the S. Dade Transitway (21 miles from Dadeland to Florida City) and the 14 miles needed to connect existing Metrorail along MW 27th Avenue to Hard Rock stadium, at the Northern edge of the county.
As I said, it was a short, four-day week. But it was the most productive in the history of this metropolis.
Commissioner Xavier L. Suarez can be reached at 305-669-4003 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org