To a North Bay Village resident, the words “city hall” may mean any one of three things: an empty lot on Harbor Island where a new city hall is slated to go up; several vacant offices at a local condominium; or a hastily put-together facility where the city’s staff now works.
For a while, officials worked from offices located at the bottom of a local condominium, 1700 JFK Cswy., which is also the site of the commission chambers. But after an unknown ventilation problem there landed two village employees in the hospital and left another three mildly sick, staff members have moved its base to a second-floor, three-room facility at Causeway Tower, 1666 JFK Cswy.
At Tuesday night’s commission meeting — held in Treasure Island Elementary School’s cafeteria — North Bay Village officials unanimously approved for the city’s staff to use about $15,000 from the village’s emergency reserve fund for moving expenses.
That sum includes the cost for the village to stay at its temporary office. The one-year lease between the village and Causeway Tower has a provision that the village can break the contract after it pays two months’ worth of rent and then gives a 30-day notice. That means the village would pay at least three months’ worth of rent, at a total of about $6,600, even if staff members are able to go back to their previous offices in less time. Administration staffers can also stay for longer than three months at a cost of about $2,200 for each additional month.
Other expenses include the purchase of furniture and technology needed at the temporary office, said finance director Bert Wrains. He added that any sum not used within the $15,000 will not be taken out from the city’s coffers.
In the meantime, an industrial-hygienist is testing the air quality at city hall and will determine whether work is needed to tackle the pollution problem.
The city hall ventilation dilemma came just as the administration is working to have a new city hall building erected on Harbor Island where North Bay Village’s offices and commission chambers were originally housed. Officials vacated that building because of mold, and the facility was bulldozed last November.
Village Manager Dennis Kelly told The Miami Herald that village staffers were working on soliciting applications from architecture firms to design the new city hall, which will house the city’s staff, the commission chambers and the police department, as well as Miami-Dade County Fire-Rescue.
In 2008, North Bay Village voters approved a $7.9 million bond referendum for the new city hall, Commissioner Richard Chervony said.
In other business, the commission had Kelly withdraw a proposition for the city to apply for a $500,000 grant to further pursue another one of the village’s ongoing projects: a board walk that will run along the north side of Treasure Island and provide residents, as well as visitors, access to Biscayne Bay. The entire $500,000 sum would have to be matched by the village from its Parks and Open Spaces Trust Fund.
“I find this request to be another irresponsible waste of money by our administration,” Chervony said.
Others on the dais, as well as some residents at the meeting, agreed.
“Philosophically, I think the Baywalk is great,” Vice Mayor Eddie Lim said. “But it’s a matter of priority. And what’s out priority right now? The city hall.”
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