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Miami Gardens confirms new city manager

Miami Gardens council members unanimously confirmed Cameron Benson as the new city manager at their meeting Wednesday night. Benson has served on an interim basis since Oct. 1, when Danny Crew stepped down from the position after 10 years.

Benson said he appreciates the foundation Crew set and looks forward to the future of the city.

“I want to bring a lot of energy,” Benson said. “I want to ensure that at activities we have going on, the public safety of businesses and residents in the community is a priority.”

The council lauded his experience, and Councilman Erhabor Ighodaro joked that, “the honeymoon is over.”

Benson last served as city manager in Hollywood from 2002 to 2011. He stepped down after nine years following criticism for his late disclosure that the city had a $10.3 million budget deficit. City commissioners complained they learned of the problem only a month before the next year’s budget had to be finalized.

Benson had been assistant city manager in Miami Gardens since April.

His new salary will be $185,000 annually. Unlike his exit from Hollywood, where Benson received a $300,000 severance package after resigning, if he voluntarily leaves his post in Miami Gardens the city will not have to pay him.

The last major development from Crew’s leadership is the new City Hall, which is expected to be completed by year’s end. The pedestrian bridge, which will lead from the garage to the main building, is set and is expected to be walkable this week. The dais and seating for the council chambers are also expected to be completed this week, according to the construction contractor, Skanska.

Despite this new potential landmark, Mayor Oliver Gilbert spent a portion of the meeting discussing improvements he wants to see in the city. He pointed to the thousands of visitors that descended on Sun Life Stadium for the Miami Broward One Carnival, on Oct. 13, and lamented a continued lack of attractions in the city.

“We have to be used to hosting big events in the city,” Gilbert said. “Having events in the city helps you attract hotels, helps you attract restaurants.”

The mayor also said that after visiting a neighborhood around Northwest 185th Terrace and Northwest 48th Place he was disappointed by the condition of the streets.

“It was deplorable, we are going to fix that,” Gilbert said. “I would not let my son walk down that street. If he can’t walk down that street, no one’s child should walk down that street.”

Gilbert also said the city is still considering purchasing the Carol Mart property, at Northwest 183rd Street and Northwest 27th Avenue, but only if it’s financially feasible.

In other action Wednesday, the council approved a plat for a new 8,700-square foot shopping center, called “Stadium Plaza” at the southeast corner of Northwest 199th Street and 27th Avenue, near the newly opened Sonic Beach restaurant.

“We’re going to build the city,” Gilbert said. “From the seniors at Betty T. [Ferguson Recreational Complex], to the children at Bunche Park. We’re going to build the city.”

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