Aventura Mayor Enid Weisman recently presented the annual “State of the City” address for the Aventura Marketing Council/Chamber of Commerce members gathered together at the elegant JW Marriott Turnberry Resort. AMC Chairman Gary Pyott, Association 1st, introduced the meeting sponsors: KW Property Management & Consulting and Waste Management of Florida.
Tim O’Keefe from KWPMC said, “With thanks to the Aventura Marketing Council for giving us this opportunity, we know that Aventura is an important market for our business. We manage nearly a dozen properties in the area and almost 4,000 homeowners. KWPMC is much like the City of Aventura—a boutique business with a focus on high quality standards. Just like Aventura expects the best for its residents, KWPMC also expects to bring the very best service to its customers. The commitment to excellence in Aventura is obvious as is the engagement of the Aventura Mayor, Commissioners, City Manager, Police Chief and the directors of all the departments. KWPMC has its very own “Standards of Excellence” program that holds our team to a premium standard. And, our ownership group is dedicated and highly engaged with every one of our customers to make a difference with great people, great values and great service.”
Paul Schneider from Waste Management noted, “Waste Management is a “People First” organization that is 50,000 strong in North America and over 3,500 for the Florida region. With our great people who come to work every day to service our communities and commercial segment, we certainly would not be the successful Fortune 200 company we are today. Waste Management has been servicing the Aventura area since its incorporation in 1996, and it is our privilege today to partner with the Aventura Marketing Council to help promote commerce and value.”
Before Mayor Weisman gave her report, she said, “There is one person in this room who encouraged me to run for Mayor—our own Billy Joel. I guess he saw something in me that he felt would be good for this city…so Billy, thank you!”
She continued, “Aventura is exceptional. And it is exceptional because of the people that call this city home.
It is exceptional because the group of people that founded this city ensured that it was built on strong ethical and moral values. And it is exceptional because every elected official, prior and current, has adhered to these values. Values and ethics still matter in this city. So before I begin, I would like to thank and acknowledge my fellow commissioners Vice Mayor Mark Narotsky, Denise Landman, Robert Shelley, Howard Weinberg, Dr. Linda Marks and Gladys Mezrahi for their dedication and commitment. Our City Manager, Ron Wasson, is the glue that holds everything together.
Our City of Excellence was created almost 25 years ago by a small army of individuals…all of whom were dedicated to the ideal of controlling their own destiny as an independent, municipal government. And I have to give a special “thank you” today to my dear friend Alex Penelas who was Mayor of Dade County and facilitated the incorporation of Aventura as a city. But our story actually began closer to 30 years ago, when Don Soffer purchased almost 800 acres of vacant swamp and shoreline property in what was to become our city. We are a community of many different cultures, religions and nationalities who have adopted our City as home. We are a City of inclusiveness…celebrating diversity of people and ideas. And all are welcome here.
We are a community of families with children who proudly attend two of the best schools in Florida. You are all familiar with our K-8, ACES (Aventura City of Excellence K – 8) and Anthony Tyrkala, their new Principal this year. In August, we opened Don Soffer Aventura High School and Principal David McKnight. Opening a high school is extremely complex it’s kind of like building a bike while you’re trying to ride it. But in seven short months Soffer High is making a name for itself.
* With just 200 students, over 150 are taking at least one college level course
*We have fielded athletic teams in volleyball, soccer, basketball and flag football
*Our drone program and our model UN teams are competing and placing in county and regional competitions
We can really say Aventura offers its students a seamless educational experience from kindergarten through high school.
Elected officials in other municipalities have asked me how we were able to support projects like the addition of a new high school and capital improvements including the milling and repaving of streets, installing new LED streetlights, rebuilding seawalls, landscaping and park improvements and maintaining all of our municipal buildings. The answer is simple- – it is because of our continued dedication to strategic planning and priority of conducting the city’s financial operations in a fiscally responsible manner. The City of Aventura is a careful steward of the tax dollars it collects and ensures those funds are spent wisely and for projects that benefit all residents. It should be noted that our city is regularly recognized as one of the best financially managed cities in Florida…and thank you, Brian Raducci! Additionally, we should all be reminded that we have the lowest property tax millage rate in South Florida – 1.72 mills, and the rate has not been changed since our incorporation 25 years ago.
Safety is another top priority in Aventura. Our Police Department, under the leadership of Chief Bryan Pegues, is one of the finest police departments in the country. They pride themselves on professionalism and the strong relationships they have built with both residents and businesses in our city. Right now, our police department is in the process of upgrading and enhancing our 911 emergency dispatch center with new facilities and equipment.
Kudos to all of our officers for their never-ending dedication.
Our recognized Public Works Dept. under the leadership of Joe Kroll, oversees everything from ACES, Soffer High and the Government Center to landscaping and the running of our City Bike and Aventura Express Bus services. This department is also responsible for changing all of our streetlights to LEDs and adding more than 3,000 linear feet of curbing on our neighborhood roads.
Our Department of Community Services keeps our residents busy with awesome community events. Events, like the Founders Day and Veterans Day celebrations, bring people together and promote a healthy lifestyle. Many of you have enjoyed some of our programs, like our Movie Nights and the Aventura Bike Rides. This department started a new partnership with the YMCA. The YMCA is our new after school program provider and they’ve been doing a fabulous job. I mentioned earlier about our upgrade of the Police Department’s 911 emergency center, that is being facilitated by our Department of Information Technology. Karen Lanke and her team oversee Aventura’s digital existence…from our computer systems, social media, and network of license plate readers, to keeping our networks safe and secure. When it comes to digital information, they have done a great job ensuring all of our online material is accessible to everyone.
In April, we will take part in the 2020 Census, giving us new data on the number of people who call Aventura home. By the Government’s most recent count, there are nearly 38,000 residents in our 3.2 square miles. Please fill out your census form, stand and be counted. And encourage your employees, friends and neighbors to do the same. Federal dollars are allocated based upon this census and we need to count every person.
Aventura continues to grow. Last year, we saw a significant amount of commercial building, particularly at the Aventura Mall and in the hospital area. This helped bring about a 3.5% increase in property values. The process of overseeing new development in our City falls to Joanne Carr and her team at the Department of CommunityDevelopment.
We are all very excited about the future of the new Virgin Train station that will connect the Aventura Mall and east side of Biscayne Blvd with the new train station. This will be a real gamechanger in our city. It is scheduled to begin operations in November 2020. The promise is – from Aventura to downtown Miami in under 15 minutes!
We can all rest assured the state of our city is strong, very strong. Aventura is in great shape and poised for the future.
For more information, visit kwpmc.com; wm.com; aventuramarketingcouncil.com