At a town hall meeting held Tuesday to educate residents on the details of next year’s budget, Pinecrest Village Manager Yocelyn Galiano Gomez found herself addressing concerns regarding the east side of the village’s lack of access to public water.
“Water should be right there for public safety before you acquire a horse farm,” said Becky Matkov, a Pinecrest resident whose home water comes from a well. “The poorest city in the county has water, and here in Pinecrest, the finest city, we have horrible water.”
In the village’s proposed budget, the bulk of changes involve capitol projects including, new fields for Flagler Grove and Evelyn Greer Parks, renovations to Cypress Hall in the Pinecrest Gardens, and the acquisition of what’s known as the “horse farm” — 5 acres at the corner of Southwest 72nd Avenue and 96th Street on which the village has entertained the idea of a dog park. The cost of this land is $2.5 million.
The water-line extension project, which would extend potable water lines to nearly 1,000 single-family homes, is a capital project as well, but not one the village has control over implementing any time soon, Galiano Gomez said.
She said this is because water is a utility, and utilities are run by the county. In some exceptions cities run their own utilities because their larger populations make it affordable, like Homestead and North Miami.
But that’s not the case in Pinecrest, which began allocating $75,000 for the $12 million project last year after attempts to lobby the county for funds did not succeed.
“The county is responsible for supplying potable water, but what they consider potable and what we would drink are two different things.”
Mayor Cindy Lerner sat in on the session and said, “We’ve looked under every stone imaginable” for funding.
Galiano Gomez added that the $75,000 is arbitrary, and the amount could be augmented at any time by village impact fees or projects in the budget that aren’t addressed this year.
Other concerns at the meeting included the cost of renovating Cypress Hall, the proposed restaurant site in Pinecrest Gardens. Galiano Gomez’s recommended budget for the project is $800,000, which some residents think is very expensive and might have to do with the restaurant group interested in the space.
But Galiano Gomez said that’s the price of renovating the hall regardless of who will use it, since it has been “gutted completely.”
There were also concerns about the council’s request for $25,000 to study the feasibility of a fire station on the village’s east side.
One resident said it would be a waste of money considering the budget cuts that may take place in the county’s Fire Rescue Department next year.
Galiano Gomez did not include the study in her recommendations to council. She said by not adding it, she’s asking the council, “Do you really want to do this?”
The council will hold a budget workshop to review the manager’s recommendations at 6 p.m. on Aug. 20 at the Pinecrest Municipal Center, 12645 Pinecrest Pkwy. Two public hearings will be held Sept. 11 and Sept. 16 to adopt the final budget. Both will be at 7 p.m. at the Municipal Center.
The budget is available for review at www.pinecrest-fl.gov.