Miami Beach

Miami Beach

Resident tries to fight Miami Beach City Hall over giant pumps in front of his house

 
DANIEL BOCK / FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

cveiga@MiamiHerald.com

The pump stations installed outside of Alex Podrizki’s childhood home are supposed to help relieve Miami Beach’s notorious flooding in the Central Bayshore neighborhood.

He fears the imposing, industrial-looking design will just bring property values down.

So Podrizki is taking action — political action. He is galvanizing his neighbors and has created a Florida political action committee that will tackle the issue.

The new pump stations are hulking — with a metallic control panel Podrizki figures is 6 feet tall and almost as wide. Raised concrete slabs have taken the place of a grass swale. Another round concrete fixture protrudes up in the air.

“It’s going to destroy the value of the homes,” he said.

Podrizki says he’s gotten nowhere after countless calls, emails and meetings with city officials. The best solution they’ve offered, he said, is to lower the concrete slabs and paint them green. Some landscaping may help, but the stations can’t be completely covered by plants because it will interfere with the way they work, he said.

In a statement emailed by his chief of staff, newly elected Mayor Philip Levine pointed out that the project was approved before he was elected. In addition to the changes mentioned by Podrizki, Levine wrote that Miami Beach is working to re-engineer pumps so they’re smaller.

“I know fully well that the value of Mr. Podrizki’s residence has diminished, and if need be, the City should consider compensating him as a result of this inconvenience,” Levine wrote.

In December, Podrizki and his brother created Florida Residents for Responsible Development, a political action committee, or PAC, that can raise and spend money on political issues.

The committee hasn’t raised any money yet, according to state records. But Podrizki said he wants to have it in place in the case the issue doesn’t get solved, it will at least give residents some political sway.

Resident Elizabeth Vivero supports the idea.

Vivero said she was “baffled” when she found a construction crew tearing up the swale on the side of her house, located on the corner of 34th Street and Pinetree Drive — especially considering the process she had just gone through to construct an addition to her 1930s home.

“The city of Miami Beach actually drove me insane,” she kidded. “The aesthetics of the property had to be of a certain form.”

Vivero had to add elements such as more trees and a fountain to get final approval.

“It cost me a small fortune just to get my permit, and two years of my life,” she said.

And then construction crews started digging. After many conversations with the city, Vivero said she’s successfully lobbied to have the station moved. But it will still be on her property — and now her neighbor’s property will be affected, too, she said.

“Someone’s going to live in the home and have to look at this thing day in and day out,” Vivero said.

The construction project is part of a street improvement project in the Central Bayshore neighborhood. According to the city, the project began in November 2011 and was supposed to have been finished by now. From 41st Street to Dade Boulevard, and from Alton Road to Flamingo Drive, the city is replacing water pipes, upgrading storm-water drainage, fixing the road and sidewalks, beautifying the crosswalks and installing landscaping.

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