Commissioner Joe Martinez steps down…

In what was his next-to-last official act Nov. 19 before retiring as Miami-Dade Chairman and District 11 Commissioner, Joe Martinez along with Parks Department VIPS opened Plaza Colombia at Westwind Lakes Park, 6805 SW 152 Avenue, at 10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 19.

Plaza Colombia is the result of a parks partnership with the Colombian American Coalition of Florida to beautify and culturally enhance that growing area and recognize its substantial population of thriving Colombian-American residents.

Just a day later, new District 11 Commissioner Juan Zapata was seated in Commissioner Martinez’s seat, ending a 12 -year-term for Martinez who has represented one of the two largest areas of unincorporated Kendall along with District 10 Commissioner Javier Souto. ‘Comish’ Martinez’s slice of our pie was primarily in West Kendall, including some of the largest residential communities: Country Walk, The Hammocks, Kendall Lakes and Lakes of the Meadows.

In a farewell message to his constituents, Martinez characterized his service as “an amazing journey” with many challenges along the way. “When I took office in October of 2000, I vowed to work diligently to bring forth improvements, create and enhance services, and establish new legislation that would be in the best interest of the residents,” Martinez added.

“Please remember that one voice can make a difference but many voices can make a change,” he urged, asking residents “to be involved in our community so together we can continue to make this a better place for our families.”

Many newcomers or event oldtimers may be unaware that Martinez had a longer police career than that as a county commissioner, beginning in 1984 as an officer before working his way up through the ranks as a detective with the General Investigations Unit from 1988 to 1992, and subsequently promoted to Police Sergeant, Police Master Sergeant and Police Lieutenant. He received more than 70 awards and commendations during 17 years of service,

While we had some arguments with his projects, the Comish was always available for comment and rarely side-stepped an issue either publicly or in private conversation. His experience, good-natured personality and always sharp perceptions on county affairs will be missed, especially his vision for new transportation projects that raised hackles in some quarters.

Let’s hope he stays active in Miami- Dade in some capacity that will continue his experienced voice and an active role in both county and Kendall civic affairs.

Pets’ Trust goes forward as “we are writing the manual (for lack of a better word) for how it would work,” reports Michael Rosenberg of the solidly-supported county referendum for the animal-saving project.

“We are also creating a National Advisory Board with the top people in the country that will review our plans to make sure we are doing it right. Then, we’ll take that finalized plan to the commissioners. I have also been contacted from Orlando to see how to create an Orlando Pets’ Trust,” he continued. “I’ve received many calls from around the country stating how proud they are of the people of Miami. It’s very heartwarming what we have done. Almost 65 percent of the vote (near 500,000 votes). Our community has spoken. We have the love no matter what anyone says!”

Heavens! Poop bags are reportedly out of stock (but back ordered) so you should temporarily bring your own with pooch to the Dog Park on SW 157 Avenue (opposite the site of West Kendall’s when-will-itever- be-built District Park).

Continental Park folks were reassured that their neighborhood Winn-Dixie supermarket plans to remain open, according to Manager Jose Garcia who appeared at that community’s recent homeowner meeting. Target purchased the adjoining K-Mart property with no specific plans yet announced for its occupancy.

Karen Peterson and Dancers staging a “Meet the Artist” wine and dessert benefit performance Saturday, Dec. 1 from 7-9 p.m. at the Excello Studio, 8700 SW 129 Terrace in The Falls industrial area. Renowned statewide dance group provides a chance for personal contact for this mixed abilities dance program. Ticket sales will support a new “Talent Showcase” 15-week dance program for 225 middle and high school teens with special needs in the Miami-Dade Public Schools. Tickets are $35 in advance, available via PayPal at and $40 at the door. For details, visit that website.

Thought of the Day:

The trust of the people in the leaders reflects the confidence of the leaders in the people. — Paulo Freire

Richard Yager contributed to this column.

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About the Author

Michael Miller
Michael co-owns Community Newspapers with his brother Grant and serves as Executive Editor of the group of newspapers. He enjoys writing about local politics and area businesses. Michael can be reached at

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