[dropcap]D[/dropcap]avid Letterman developed the concept of ranking political and popular culture news items into a list of “Top Ten.” Taking a page from the late-night talk show host and going him one better, here are my “Top Eleven Reasons for a New South Miami City Hall.” You get to rank them as you wish:
• Poor building quality due to age results in increasing and chronic expense in maintenance and continual risk to employee health (asbestos, mosquitoes and other issues)
• Inefficient and cramped space translates to very inefficient staffing and coordination between Departments and offices
• Lower energy costs in new building
• Synergy and probable increased funding from incorporating County Offices (Commissioner and possibly satellite offices for permitting and other functions) and Federal offices (Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen)
• Possible construction of pedestrian bridge over US-1 between Metro Rail station and new City Hall (from raised structure to raised structure eliminates most of the expense)
• Possible ancillary facility of hotel
• Probable ancillary facility of County Library (could close existing branch and incorporate it to our new building)
• Possible ancillary development of public space (park) downtown
• Possible development of a City Museum in the Sylva Martin building once staff has moved to new City Hall
• Improvement of business in downtown area due to increased activity in the new City Hall and connection to Metro Rail by new bridge
• Reduced pressure on Ad Valorem due to increased property tax revenues from new development on current City Hall space, which may lead to a property to reduction.
What will the next steps be? Lots of communication and public education are in order. So is a solid plan for financing such a major undertaking. It will require the determination for those now in public office and for those in the future to stay the course and not end up with one more plan gathering dust on the top of the filing cabinet.
A new City Hall project could be all of a piece. An energy-efficient building, the consolidation of city and some county services, a bridge to our downtown, a hotel, a museum and a park sited closer to public transportation. Sounds ideal from where I sit and demonstrates some progressive thinking about the City of South Miami’s future.