Residents, officials gather for Village Hall opening

By Gary Alan Ruse….

Pictured cutting the ribbon are (l-r) District 1 Councilmember Patrick Fiore, village manager Ron E. Williams, District 3 Councilmember Joan Lindsay, District 2 Councilmember Howard J. Tendrich, Mayor Shelley Stanczyk, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz- Balart, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Vice Mayor Brian W. Pariser and U.S. Rep. David Rivera.

Palmetto Bay residents joined village officials and guests from county and federal government for the formal grand opening ceremony of the new Village Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 22, the day after Presidents’ Day.

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the building, the program convened in the council chambers with village manager Ron E. Williams serving as master of ceremony and Mayor Shelley Stanczyk welcoming everyone. As part of her remarks, she thanked the village leaders who preceded her and other current members.

“Without the work and effort of our first council — Mayor Flinn, Vice Mayor Linda Robinson, Paul Neidhart, John Breder and Dr. Ed Feller we surely would not be here today,” Stanczyk said. “They were the ones who took the big jump for incorporation. They were the ones who took it upon themselves to run for office in a village that had never had a council before. They are the ones who took the steps that we are following through on today. I thank them for that effort, for that vision and desire and all that hard work.”

She also said that the general area where the center now stands used to be neglected and “the used car lot” of South Florida, but that it wasn’t that anymore and the new municipal center would serve as a magnet to attract new restaurants, businesses and other beneficial features.

“This village hall is the energizer and the driving force for that change,” Stanczyk said.

Also present for the event were Miami- Dade County Commissioners Lynda Bell and Dennis Moss, Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall, Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner and three United States representatives.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, 18th District of Florida, had praise for the center, which is on track to becoming the first municipal building in the state of Florida to receive a Platinum LEED certification.

“This building has the highest possible rating, which is Platinum,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “It’s an environmentally friendly building. This is the catalyst that’s going to be the engine that will spur great discussion in this new hall of democracy where the citizens will come and meet with a very approachable and very hands-on mayor and city council.

“I want to congratulate you for doing this project in-house, for making it economically and for just building a beautiful structure,” she added. “To think that it is also an ecological treasure is just incredible.”

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, 21st District of Florida, also acknowledged the significance of the center and praised the current and former council members for their vision and effort in achieving that goal.

Congressman David Rivera, 25th District of Florida, praised the leaders and citizens of the village for their accomplishment.

“Thank you so much for having the inspiration and motivation to do something great,” Rivera said. “What better way to praise and dignify democracy in action than this setting here, which is due to the vision of the people of Palmetto Bay.”

Former village Mayor Eugene P. Flinn Jr. was another special guest for the event and was asked to come to the podium to address those attending.

“This municipal center is the capstone of the village’s first eight-year plan,” Flinn said. “One of the things that makes me the most proud is that this is not about five council members, then or now, it’s about 26,000 people working together. I’m proud of Palmetto Bay.”

Flinn also urged that, in addition to acknowledging the work that had gone before, residents keep the pressure on those in village government in the years ahead to ensure that the progress that has been made continues.

Before Mayor Stanczyk closed the ceremony and invited all to tour the new facility, Vice Mayor Brian W. Pariser spoke, as did each of the other current council members. Pariser thanked the council and everyone, including Williams, building official Edward Silva and Human Resources director Olga Cadaval for bringing it all together so quickly. He also expressed a wish to the residents.

“In the coming years, I hope to see all of your faces here, because I tell you what — here’s a secret — we don’t know everything,” Pariser said. “We need comments from the audience. We need your participation.”

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