The biggest news that came out of the recent town hall meeting held at St. John AME Church sponsored by Concerned Clergy and Citizens Coalition was that the Murray Pool project is once again dead in the water. Pastor Rodney James introduced the event as an opportunity to inform area residents on “resources and services available to the community to take an interest and leadership role.” Subjects covered were community policing, the Murray Pool, Madison Square and voting.
After Major Rene Landa of the South Miami Police Department spoke and took questions from the audience for about 40 minutes, Mayor Philip Stoddard addressed the pending pool plan. “We chose a contractor that does not seem interested in doing it,” said Stoddard. “He won’t say yes and he won’t say no and I am extremely distressed about the situation.”
The audience asked pointed questions about the process and regretted that no citizen input was involved in the drawing of plans nor the evolution of the anticipated pool that has been a neighborhood dream for over 40 years. “Nobody in the community has been involved in this latest design process,” said Levi Kelly. Dr. Ann Price and Dr. Joyce Price along with Reverend James expressed the same sentiment.
The mayor said the drawings were concept drawings and not construction drawings however Reverend James stated that at a community action meeting held recently they were told that “the ship had sailed and the design was done.” Stoddard said it is highly unlikely that the city will be able to break ground with a new contractor before the county imposed deadline of December 30 to break ground and secure pending grants of about one million dollars.
On the Madison Square development, city project leader Stephen David said the lengthy process to begin building was nearing an end. “The train has left the station,” said David. The land has now been changed to mixed use and the next step is to change the zoning to specialty retail. There will be a November 13 planning board meeting next. Then it is off to the city commission in hopes the five required votes to move ahead will happen.
“We will then put the project out for request for proposals,” said David, “and the CRA board will have the ultimate say in selecting the developer. Everybody will be heavily involved in the design but although it is four stories and twenty four units possible it does not mean it will be developed that way.”