Opa-locka Mayor Myra Taylor’s State-of-the-City address was a combination of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and the Bible, but in the end Taylor made her point: Opa-locka is changing and her goal is to let people know.
Taylor’s ministerial training and faith came through in a speech sprinkled with Bible verses from the beginning, when she encouraged residents “to be strong and courageous,” a quote from Joshua 1:9. And, even though the city has been fighting a reputation for having a corrupt police force and chronic problems with street drugs, Taylor said the police have actually cleaned up several areas.
“We had a thriving pharmaceutical business down in the Triangle until Police Chief Cheryl Cason and her forces broke that up,” said Taylor. Now, the infamous Triangle is “being transformed into a beautiful renaissance called Magnolia North.”
Taylor also said the police department confiscated 23 marijuana plants in 2012, held its most successful gun buy-back in history, and increased the number of officers on staff.
Taylor highlighted the Public Works Department and three pump stations completed to improve sewer service, the opening of Sherbondy Village, a multi-million dollar project that had been on hold for more than a year, and major repairs to roads, sidewalks and storm drainage.
“I’ve seen a lot of positive changes and it all looks beautiful,” said Marie Jean-Poix, a 25-year resident.
The Mayor’s Beautification Initiative was implemented in 2012 as well. As a result, for the first time, Opa-locka lit up 25 Christmas trees for the holiday season.
“The trees were so beautiful,” said Lovetta Destin, a four-year resident. “I’ve also seen them do a lot of work with the roadways, the parks, and now we have flowers in the medians. It’s nice.”
In addition to trees and lights, residents will soon get a “monumental gateway,” an electronic billboard at the entrance to the community at Northwest 27th Avenue and Opa-locka Boulevard. The marquee will be interactive and include a waterfall. Furthermore, the mayor announced several projects underway for 2013, including four developments: the Georgia Ayers residential housing project, a 72-unit “green” development located within the Nile Gardens community that includes a police substation; Presidente supermarket, the first grocery store chain in Opa-locka since the 1970s; the reconstruction of the two-story Helen Miller Center; and a $19 million affordable apartment complex for senior citizens.
“It is the largest development in our city’s history and will serve as a catalyst for the redevelopment of our downtown area,” said Taylor, who also announced the purchase of the four-story town center building the city has been using to house its offices.
“In the past we’ve had a shiny red nose but no one noticed us. Now, we are going to do some things that will make everyone see who we are. Things are already underway and people are starting to get a sense of ownership, of pride,” said Taylor. “There is as forward shift in our spirit, a pull on our imagination, and a demand on our potential.”
Lastly, during her address Taylor implemented the first Opa-locka Lifetime Achievement Award which was given to City Commissioner Timothy Holmes. He has been with the commission since 1994.
“I was kind of surprised because I really am a private sort of person,” Holmes said. “But, I am very proud of it and feel happy about the good things I’ve done for this city.”