Land next to Village Hall bought to construct community center

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The Village of Palmetto Bay purchased two acres of land the last week of March for $2.94 million, partly to prevent a charter school from being built there and also to provide a location for a community center.

This followed negotiations with Wayne Rosen of Shores Development Company in August 2017. The deal was approved by the Village Council in December, by a 3-2 vote with Mayor Eugene Flinn and Councilmembers David Singer and Larissa Siegel Lara voting for the purchase and Vice Mayor John DuBois and Councilmember Karyn Cunningham voting against it.

The property is located at the virtual intersection of SW 97th Avenue and 178th Street, although there actually is no intersection there.

The vacant land is located between Village Hall and Palmetto Bay Park with no road currently existing to reach it. A road will have to be built to provide access to the community center.

The first presentation for the proposed center was given in November 2017.

All five members of the village council were asked what issues prompted them to vote the way they did.

Mayor Flinn was enthusiastic about the move.

“This was a great purchase,” Flinn said. “We have finally located a suitable place for our Community Center, an amenity that has been in our parks plans from our very first visioning session of the initial village council. Location has always been an issue.

“The price was driven by the two professional appraisals. The price we paid was under both professional appraisals. The price and amenities that we can share with Village Hall and Palmetto Bay Park will work to ensure that this community center will not increase taxes,” the mayor added. “A successful Community Center requires connection to a park for outdoor activities. Coral Reef Park does not have the parking. It is built out, bursting at the seams.

“Finally, the fact that three of the five voted to prevent a charter school is merely an added benefit for our community. We did not purchase the charter school location to stymie a charter school. We did, but the site is by far the best site available on its own merits, for all the reasons I described.”

Councilmember Singer said he led the way in contacting the owner of the property and had met with him with the village attorney and village manager.

“They had planned to build a charter school on two acres of the land and what Wayne Rosen was going to do was build apartments on three acres and had decided to sell the other two acres to a private company that builds charter schools,” Singer said.

“I don’t remember the numbers, but it was about 1,000 to 1,400 students. So the village decided to sue them because they don’t want a charter school in the downtown area because of the amount of traffic it would produce and they just didn’t feel it was the proper place for a charter school.

“So they denied the application, they went to court; the village actually lost the lawsuit, so there were definitely plans to build a charter school — I’ve seen the contract.”

Singer said the owners he talked to had spent about $100,000 on site surveys and architectural and everything else, which is typical with development.

“We’d been wanting a community center so I decided we could put the community center where the charter school is and we’d kill two birds with one stone,” Singer added. “Hopefully there’ll be a community center there. That’s what I’m pushing for. It still has to be put to a vote.”

He said the charter school company was Somerset Academy Inc., which is a non-profit charter management organization based in Texas and Florida.

Councilmember Cunningham had a different view of the purchase.

“I could not justify voting in favor of spending nearly $3 million of taxpayer dollars on the purchase of this piece of land,” Cunningham said. “Decisions of this magnitude should not be made in haste and without thorough research of the potential short and long term fiscal impact on our village and its residents.

“Now we are learning that the mayor and other council members want to build a mega-center. The renderings that have been presented include roof top swimming pools and multilevel parking structures, amongst many others uses. The community deserves to have the time to review all the options and to clearly understand the potential risks before these kinds of decisions are made.”

Vice Mayor DuBois explained why he voted against the purchase.

“The reason I voted against the land purchase was because I believed the use of the property was ill conceived in terms of not using the property for the use the residents desired,” he said. “My concern was that we were about to spend capital money for a project that was going to become a much larger financial commitment for the residents of Palmetto Bay without knowing what we were getting into. We seem to have a history of poor planning for capital projects.

“A great example was the million dollar hot dog stand which is still not in use 10 years later, and now we were being asked to spend $3 million on a property to build a $16 million mega center without a clear need or a designer,” DuBois added. “My fear is that we are going to be spending a million dollars a year on interest and another million on operating losses that our residents are going to have to bear in the form of substantially increased property taxes.”

Councilmember Lara did not respond in time by deadline.

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14 Comments on "Land next to Village Hall bought to construct community center"

  1. Very Concerned Citizen | April 24, 2018 at 9:56 pm | Reply

    Vote for Karyn Cunningham for Mayor to replace Flinn to make sure he does not pull anymore fast ones over us. Fortunately DuBois got in last election beating Flinn’s puppet to avoid more overdevelopment of our beautiful Palmetto Bay! Ya’ll can thank Dispicable Peter for Patrick not beating Flinn in the last election for Mayor. There is no way Patrick would have allowed a sleezy real estate deal like this to happen! Please wake up residents!

  2. Dubois and Cunningham- so very against traffic yet you want a school that will clog the roads with moms and dads dropping kids off during rush hour. The investment was wise!

  3. Where can we see what all is intended to be included in this community center?

  4. Karyn Cunningham and vice mayor DuBois understand how ridiculous this complete waste of $3,000,00 of tax payer money was orchestrated by Mayor Flinn and councilman David Singer. Those of us who have been following this waste are sick of the excuses from Singer and Flinn. Now both of them are pushing for even greater financial debt, for a proposed 19 million dollar Mega Center AKA. community center. In the last few weeks they have backed off a little bit and are saying well the center could be smaller. Big deal!! Singer and Flinn are not out to protect the citizens of Palmetto Bay. Clear and Simple!! The rest of their words are pure B.S. They should be happy that they were able to get away with spending $3,000,000 in cash, yes cash, for two acres of landlocked land, just to Stop a supposed Charter School from opening?? David Singer has made this perfectly clear in his public statements. It was not about traffic, but about the harm a Charter School could do to other Public Schools, and their teachers.(by pulling away tax dollars from Public schools to a possible Charter school). I am a Palmetto Bay tax payer and I am personally pissed that these two elected officials of our Village has wasted the 3 million, and now want to waste up to 19 million more dollars for a project that the Village does not need and the citizens have not asked for. I have a copy of their 19 million dollar plan, which was printed and developed by Village staff, dated Dec.18, 2017. Now Mayor Flinn and Singer are saying, OH NO, we never wanted such a big project. IT IS ABOUT TIME THAT THESE TWO START BEING HONEST WITH THE CITIZENS OF PALMETTO BAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Karyn is Dubois’ puppet. She votes in lockstep with him, even when it comes to not taking the side of a pedophile. S

  6. Coral Reef Park Neighbor | April 26, 2018 at 8:41 am | Reply

    Cunningham and DuBois are up to their usual corrupt tricks. The only reason DuBois opposes the Community Center is that he wants the funding to be available for a mega tennis center at Coral Reef Park. Cunningham is a puppet of DuBois who votes based upon the texts she receives form her handlers during meetings.

  7. A real Concerned Citizen | April 26, 2018 at 8:45 am | Reply

    When did Cunningham start hating Children? We need a Community Center. We have to stop catering to the self appointed Concerned Citizens who brought us nothing but grief and lawsuits during the Stanczyk years. Now the Concerned Citizens are looking to install a new puppet in CunningHARM. We do not need a return to the stone age.

  8. Useful Idiot | May 3, 2018 at 5:00 pm | Reply

    Someone else commented that we (Palmetto Bay) needs a Community Center. What, if I may ask, EXACTLY is a Community Center, and WHAT EXACTLY does it do? If it is so necessary, why haven’t “we” discussed it before? How will it benefit the residents of Palmetto Bay? It sounds like nothing more than a huge purchase that will satisfy someone’s personal agenda to me.

  9. The land should have been turned onto a park. You better believe that some elected officials and Village administrators will profit from the recreational building.

    Why isn’t the Village joining Coal Gables, South Miami, Pinecrest, etc. in the lawsuit so that we can make our own gun control laws?

  10. Judy Freeby | May 3, 2018 at 9:22 pm | Reply

    Use the Burger King Building for a community center and give the park the parking area it needs and green space. No more mega concrete buildings.

  11. Maggie Moore | May 4, 2018 at 8:16 am | Reply

    I do not oppose the purchase of the land and plans to better the features our village offers it’s taxpayers. I do however, have a big issue with our Mayor and the council with their prejudice of Charter schools. for shame! Charter schools employ our family members so they can live in Palmetto Bay and pay the ridiculously high taxes not to mention the fact that they are a serous alternative to the sub par education our children receive from the Public school system. Notice I did not say the sub par public school teachers. Teachers are heroes and should be paid well. something Charter schools do.

  12. Its all about the $$ Money $$ Non of our community leaders are concerned about Palmetto bays woes, just how they can benefit from it. The monstrosity being built on Franjo is just a sample of what we can expect.

  13. while I cannot support or opposite the purchase, it appears that the matter was not fully discussed prior to the purchase being approved. It also seems like once again the Village lost in court, they spends tons of money to get around the unfavorable ruling.

    while it is generally good when there is public debate, when I see how “democracy” seems to be working, I fear humanity is incapable of self rule, and there really is no good alternative. In the long run, our only option is to learn Chinese as Americans are clueless as to future

  14. Palmetto Bay Neighbor | May 4, 2018 at 3:43 pm | Reply

    Please vote for Karyn Cunningham for mayor. Mayor Flinn plans for this $22 million dollar big ole building is ridiculous. The mayor has told us over and over again that traffic is one of our biggest problems in Palmetto Bay. Many neighborhoods have been begging for relief…only to be told by our public works dept. that they do not have the funding for more traffic calming devices. Mayor Flinn is again going off base spending our dollars on projects that are to big or not needed. We need to spend money on our neighborhoods and road infrastructure. We are about to spend all this money on something way to big and not what the residents truly desire. Can you just imagine this MEGA-CENTER with a multilevel parking structure and rooftop swimming pools ! Please Mr. Mayor put our money where it’s needed not in your amusement park. Please vote for Karyn Cunningham.

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