By Christina Gordon….

THE MAYOR’S TASK FORCE - Barry Chin, Kevin Goch, Angel Vargas, Bala Somasundaram, Brad Joel, Yash Barot, Carlos Grango, Elsa Blanco, Nickel Goeseke, Mayor Myra Taylor, Philip Spiegel, Frank Vega, Mark Jolly, Hue Bryan, Elvira Smith and Wanda Harris

After requesting that everyone review a Base Map of the Nile Gardens Industrial Park, Mayor “Lady” Myra L. Taylor gave a slide presentation which contained photos of many of the most horrific code violations on or near properties belonging to some of the guests seated in the room, before she affirmed, “It ain’t suppose to be there,” during a meeting scheduled at 10:00AM for the Business Community on Thursday, April 28, 2011 at the Municipal Complex Building, 780 Fisherman Street, 2nd floor, Opa-locka FL, 33054.

“Abandoned vehicles, cars and shipping containers stacked above the walls, illegal dumping, fences that close-off City of Opa-locka streets, walls replaced by stones that appear to be from Biblical times, businesses not paying for their water, trucking and roofing businesses operating illegally behind homes, grease and oil on properties… the area looks like another whole City that doesn’t belong to me. I can’t impress anyone to come in, and I can’t impress anyone to stay. I need a look that looks better than that. HELP ME beautify this portion of the city!” Mayor Taylor eloquently pleaded. With that said, from a brief pregnant-pause a barrage of questions, answers, suggestion, complaints and on-going dialogue emerged, following the Mayor’s monologue. It appeared the room was eager to join Taylor’s vision or perhaps had been lying in wait for just the right platform or person to express their own concerns about the conditions within the Nile Gardens Industrial Park.

“You see that boat in the picture, that’s my property,” called out Mr. Carlos Grango of C.A. Truck Parts, Inc, who’s business has been in Opa-locka for over 26 years. “Somebody dumped that boat in front of my place and I called the police, but they didn’t come. Then,” he continued, “…other people started dumping in the same spot, and now I can’t make it disappear, because it’s illegal to touch that boat without permission.” Grango opened the type of dialogue which the Mayor desperately needed in order to comprehend the root and the reasons for the wide-spread problems in the industrial park. Mayor Taylor was relieved to hear feedback from business owners who stated that they were not responsible for illegally dumping pollutants, old vehicles, trash or other debris, nor were they intentionally contributing to or ignoring code violations. In fact, they began suggesting solutions to improve conditions and eradicate the “eye sores,” the lackadaisical attitudes of other business owners, and methods to return the area to the aesthetically pleasing commercial district it once was years ago.

In addition to Grango, Taylor listened carefully to Hugh Bryan of Bryan International, Bala Somasundaram, an environmental engineer from Eco Tech, Yash Barot of Creative Choice Homes, Angel Vargas of Honda King, Philip Spiegel of Trademark Metals, Nickel Goeseke from 133rd Street Shops and a host of other business owners and representatives, all taking initiative to contribute back to the community through this clean-up effort.

Before the meeting concluded, the Mayor vowed to have the City Manager check into allegations and disclosures made about businesses operating without all the proper licenses, lack of enforcement for violations, shortcut methods for obtaining permits, and the lack of proper inspections. Suggestions were made for the City to fill holes, provide drainage, post larger signs, get security cameras/ monitors, find a temporary storage facility for boats dumped in the park (which Captain De Los Rios explained needed to have a vin number for the police to move) and create, then distribute a list of licenses needed to operate legally for ALL businesses and to educate those who don’t know what they need, with programs that will get them into compliance. One of the most insightful suggestions which was immediately put into action, was the formation of the MAYOR’S TASK FORCE among those present. It was decided that the Task Force would meet again with results and solutions, and not just for the sake of having another meeting. All agreed to “take back the City of Opalocka!”

Mr. Howard Brown of Community Development explained, “Each of you are entitled to everything we have in the City, so we are here to provide information for you.” Mr. Fritz Armand, Director of Public Works stressed the importance of cooperation and pooling resources to work together. Mayor Taylor concluded with “Businesses help support the City and the City wants to work with your Business.” She said that she will not put-on blinders or ignore this issue and as we go through the City “we will not leave your area undone.”

To report illegal dumping and other code violations in the City of Opa-locka, please contact the Office of Community Services (OCS) at 305 688-HELP (4357).

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