Vote YES It’s the Pinecrest Way

Cheri Ball Former Vice-Mayor, Village of Pinecrest

In our Village of Pinecrest there are streets and avenues that do not have fire hydrants. It is difficult to imagine that a community that prides itself on being ‘A great place to raise a family’, leaves friends and neighbors vulnerable to the rare but potentially fatal disaster of fire in the home. A reputation for community projects with neighbors helping neighbors is how we’ve come to have the tag ‘The Pinecrest Way’, and now more than ever we should reinforce that reputation with a Yes vote for the referendum that unites our infrastructure and unifies the protections for all Pinecrest families. 

The deficiency of services is not the making of our Village government; it is the Policy of Miami-Dade County to not use funds for new projects. Again, it is ridiculous to think our families’ wellbeing is considered a project, not a priority. All the tales of Miami-Dade abandoning their responsibility of quality services is true.  For decades the county has been deaf to our repeated requests, only a past Miami-Dade referendum, voted on by all Miami-Dade voters gave water access to part of Pinecrest; there is no repeats of help from Miami-Dade coming. Does this story sound familiar, today we again are faced with a referendum vote that can finally cure our illness of lack of access to county water and the deficit of over 200 fire hydrants, but this time it’s us that controls our destiny by fully funding the project for infrastructure. The county is a no-go for assistance and while past efforts to the state gave us hope, the result has consistently been a red-line through our project.  We must look in the mirror for leadership to close this chapter of Pinecrest history.  Voting yes is the best of all the options for our residents, for both families with water and fire hydrants, and those without.  For the 70+ residents that paid for construction of water lines, it’s dramatically unfair, but to vote no, means we perpetuate that same unfairness for future families, not one more family should be our reason to vote yes. 

In Pinecrest we proudly define projects differently. We use terms like “benefit to a sustainable future”, “family first”, and “neighbors helping neighbors”.  While this may be very Mayberry-esque, we don’t count how many families will use the park, or what benefit the general public gets from Pinecrest Gardens, and we don’t ignore opportunities to be problem solving leaders. We incorporated to make a change from the big government that controlled our future, we knew we could do it better.

The Referendum vote in March is about our Pinecrest infrastructure, closing the gaps and providing a quality city for our families, today and always. Finishing the equal coverage of fire hydrants and providing access to County water is a priceless gift to our families and future, we must keep eye on the prize by voting yes. Think about the dollars and it makes sense. It is common-sense to be pro-active on the strategies we can control.  It will cost us a little to gain a lot. The Council can simultaneously look for funding via other legal or lobbying efforts, but right now the clock is ticking. We have less than 120 days until hurricane season.  Let’s Vote Yes and be the leaders, the neighbors, and smart citizens that know how to build a better future. Ask yourself, what does the Pinecrest Way mean to you?

Cheri Ball Former Vice-Mayor, Village of Pinecrest

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  1. Ms. Ball wants everyone in Pinecrest to pay an average of $3,160 ($158 for 20 years) so that her home and 740 other homes can be hooked up to the county’s water system. Nearly 90% of all homes in Pinecrest have already paid to hook up to that system. It is not an inexpensive proposition, but everyone else has already paid and it would be unfair to force all those who have already paid to also finance the hook up for the small minority who have not. An acceptable alternative would be to divide that $15 million dollar cost among the 740 homes and charge each of them $20,270 to pay for the cost of doing so. If I lived in one of those 740 homes, I would be glad to pay that amount for an improvement that would immediately be reflected in the increased value of my home. We are not talking about homes near US 1 in what some people call “the slums of Pinecrest”. We are talking about homes like Ms. Ball’s worth well over $1,000,000. If they haven’t the cash lying around, any bank would gladly lend them the money and it would only cost about $130 per month payable over 30 years with all interest paid deductible! Don’t be fooled! This is another proposed giveaway taxing everyone in Pinecrest (including those in the least affluent households) to benefit some of the wealthiest.

  2. In response to Chris Lemos’ short-sighted response, I am a resident of “the slums of Pinecrest,” as I live just two streets east of US 1. When I bought my home in 1990, wells were quite common in what was then the area known as Pinecrest. I do not live on an acre, and I do not have the ability to spend $30,000 or more to bring the water to my house from the closest line. In addition, I would not assume that “any bank would gladly lend (them) the money.” Unless you are a banker, Mr. Lemos, and ready to do business, it is my experience that very much depends on the equity that you have in your home.

    For almost three decade I have always been in favor of connecting to county water. I have experienced all of the inconveniences of living with a well such as poor water pressure, the expense and concerns of water testing, equipment maintenance and replacement of the pump, bladder, and water softening system. But most importantly, I have experienced the hygiene issue of living with no running water, including the inability to flush a toilet every time the electricity goes out, which can be for an hour, a day, or, in the case of Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, Rita, Wilma, and the recent Irma, up to three weeks. With climate change, storms will likely become more frequent and stronger. For those of us that have access to a generator, the equipment purchase and maintenance plus fuel is an additional expense and not a good solution for the water problem. However, beyond the inconvenience and hygiene issues, we have learned that there are close neighbors with poisonous chemical intrusion such as arsenic and dieldrin in their wells, making their well water unsafe. We do not want to be known as #Flintcrest. This will ultimately affect the value of all of our homes. There is also the issue of salt water intrusion into the wells which will become more likely as we go forth. In addition, streets without water lines do not have fire hydrants, and that presents another huge issue in the ability to extinguish fires.

    We also learned about the history of the water situation in Pinecrest, especially as regards the placement of the 2008-2010 backbone water lines, which seem to have been arbitrarily chosen, but more importantly, installed as a Phase 1 and 2, with the final water lines to the remaining almost 750 homes (more than 10% of the Village!) to be completed as a final phase. At that time there were approximately 1,500 homes with no county water and with the money from the General Obligations Bond, the Village was able to complete half the project, leaving the final almost 750 homes without water infrastructure. In other words, the idea was ALWAYS to build a final phase or a Phase 3 of infrastructure, so that this is, in fact, an INCOMPLETE project, and now, of course, there is no more money. For this project, we as a Village ALL bore whatever cost homeowners bore for the installed main lines, and only a portion of us benefited. For ten years we have ALL diligently paid on this GOB as part of our taxes. And for this reason, finishing the project, getting water lines to those remaining without water access, should be addressed as a Village-wide expense. My child graduated long ago from public high school yet I continue to gladly pay school tax because I believe in public education whether I use the schools or not. I also pay for things that the Village builds that I do not use, such as a tennis center,parks, or Pinecrest Gardens, because I enjoy a Village that has nice amenities, whether I use them or not. Potable water goes beyond this. It is not a privilege but a BASIC RIGHT.

    We cannot continue to think of ourselves as “haves” and “have nots.” The intent was ALWAYS to complete the county water service connection for the whole Village. Aside from health and safety issues as a result of chemical and salt water intrusion, we must all be cognizant of what will happen to our property values. It will immediately affect the homes without water infrastructure, since all other things being equal, they will be less preferable to buyers. Homes affected by chemical intrusion may even become unmarketable. But ultimately it will affect us all, because once these problems surface, it becomes a black mark on all the community, and thus, property values.

    Let’s just finish this project and vote YES on the water referendum. The cost is minimal. Based on an assessed property value of about $410,000 my cost would be $94 per year, less than $8 per month (much less than a daily Starbucks habit!). Even at double this amount, it is a bargain, as the only way to finally complete the project.

  3. To be fair, Ms. Kaplan should disclose that she has spent far more than $30,000 on improvements to her home since she purchased it, adding significant square footage and value in the process. Also, while her assessed value may be only $410,000 (due to the length of time she has owned her homestead), the Zillow estimate puts her home value over a million dollars. That she chose to spend her money on expansion, rather than on water service was her choice. She fails to explain why others who have already paid for their water service should also pay for hers. If, after more than 28 years in her home, Ms. Kaplan still lacks sufficient equity for a loan and has not learned to properly prepare for hurricanes by filling containers with water, I don’t know what to tell her other than “Why should others pay for your water?”

    • Mr. Lemos, my expansion was done in 1996, and over two decades ago, when much of Pinecrest was still using well water. At that time we were unaware of the problems of chemical, pesticide, and salt water intrusion. We had only “lived with” our well for five years, so we were also unaware of the problems and inconveniences, other than lack of running water for three weeks following Hurricane Andrew.

      More importantly, however, Mr. Lemos, is that the almost 750 of us still without water paid for and continue to pay for the GOB that gave the previous 750 access to the new water backbones, with the idea that we would all receive water lines on our street. It was all ONE PROJECT. We did not control the money or the costs, when the money ran out. And by the way, Mr. Lemos, how did you acquire your county water? If we paid for yours, or theirs, why is there reluctance on your part to see this project to completion?

      The equity issue is not the point, not even necessarily a personal issue. I am not the only one among the almost 750, and among those I will bet that there are many who don’t have “the equity.” I care about the Village, not just myself.

      Again, Mr. Lemos, how did you acquire your running water (askin’ for a friend)?

  4. We were one of the families who were required to pay to extend a nearby water main and install a fire hydrant at a cost to us of over $30,000. There was little to no benefit to us. We could have connected to the nearby water main for minimal cost. The extension was solely for the benefit of our neighbors. Over three years later, not one neighbor has connected. We basically paid for a water main to nowhere. As if that’s not bad enough, the Village now wants us to pay for that again! As a matter of fairness and equity, those like us who already paid to extend the line should have been exempted from any new costs for further extending the water mains. If Ms. Ball wants to extend the water main at her own cost like we had to, she should be permitted to do so. But all of us (especially those who already paid substantial sums) shouldn’t have to pay again. Perhaps Ms. Ball won’t mind contributing to the water main line we already extended?


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