Cutler Bay was chosen by the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA) as the winner of its Innovation in Planning for All Ages Award for 2020, which recognizes the town’s efforts in becoming an age-friendly community.
The award is a part of APA’s 2020 Project Awards and recognizes innovative planning in meeting the needs of the 50-plus population. Nominees are judged on criteria such as the implementation of pedestrian infrastructure, innovative transportation programs that increase senior mobility, and outdoor spaces projects fostering inter generational and multi-cultural connection and socialization.
With the guidance of the town council, the town’s Communities For A Lifetime (CFAL) Committee, and town staff, Cutler Bay has implemented the installation of outdoor fitness equipment in its parks to ensure access for people of all ages and abilities, the expansion of the local circulator bus route to operate seven days a week with more stops at places of interest for senior residents, a partnership with the South Dade Cultural Arts Center offering seniors discounted $5 ticket pricing for live performances, and hosting more than 30 events, workshops and social gatherings for the 50 and over community every year.
“When I first introduced the resolution to adopt the CFAL initiative in 2010, I never imagined we would be a leader in the State of Florida in developing this concept,” said Mayor Tim Meerbott. “Much credit is due to our Vice Mayor Sue Ellen Loyzelle, who has spearheaded this initiative, as well as all of the members of our CFAL Committee who have gone to great lengths to improve our community for the sake of all our residents.”
Vice Mayor Loyzelle explained why the effort was important to her.
“We developed the Age-Friendly Action plan to make the life of our residents richer, more engaged and easier,” Loyzelle said. “The process of intently listening to our residents’ feedback on ways we can improve, crafting a thorough plan to put that feedback to work, and then implementing those services and programs has been rewarding in and of itself. To be recognized by the APA for our efforts is the icing on the cake — we are so proud to set the example on how other communities can become more age-friendly.”
The town’s journey to become a more age-friendly community began in 2010 when the town council adopted a resolution — sponsored by Mayor Meerbott, who was a council member at the time — to join the Florida Department of Elder Affairs’ Communities For A Lifetime Initiative.
The Town became the second municipality in Florida to join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities and States through their Age-Friendly Action Plan, which was approved by the World Health Organization. The town’s Action Plan has received recognition from U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala, State Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez and from the Miami-Dade County Commission.