In response to article Coral Way historic district considered (Neighbors Jan. 23), “another layer of city review” of home-renovation projects is a short-sighted way to look at historic designation.
Historic designation adds the opportunity to be sure that characteristics of historic properties are respected, not frozen in time. It further offers certain financial incentives like relief from increases in property taxes on the added value that capital improvements may bestow. It makes available a staff of professionals in the field of historic architecture to aid the property owner in planning any restorations or additions at little or no cost.
There is abundant evidence nationwide that historic designation improves neighborhoods and increases the value of properties. A major contributing factor to the selection of Coral Gables as one of the most desirable cities in the world is its attention to detail and respect for its history. Historic districts enrich us all culturally, aesthetically and financially. In this instance, another layer is a good thing.
Karelia Martinez Carbonell, president, Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables
Mayor botched Pinecrest Gardens restaurant deal
On Jan. 14, the Pinecrest Village Council voted 3-2 against an agreement to establish a new restaurant facility at Pinecrest Gardens, the former Parrot Jungle ( Proposed restaurant lease rejected, Neighbors, Jan. 19). Following this vote, Mayor Cindy Lerner and some of her supporters have taken to attacks against the council members who voted against the measure and against citizens who opposed the deal. A number of us residents who were actively involved in analyzing this deal, and who are still working with the village to nevertheless forge a workable solution, are disappointed that the mayor has taken to such measures, when she could have demonstrated better leadership on the matter from the get-go. We commend the courage of council members Joseph Corradino, Jeff Cutler and Bob Ross in voting against the measure.
The restaurant proposal voted down was a step back towards the prohibited commercialization of the park. It called for a 160-seat restaurant facility, along with a 16- 20-person full bar. The village, after announcing prospective bidders would be forced to take the space on an “as-is” basis, and after Mayor Lerner told citizens that they needed to approve a charter amendment unless they wanted the village to “spend $1 million to build a restaurant,” was being asked to spend $800,000, while the operator would have only contributed $550,000 and a one-year rent guarantee on what could have been an 18-year deal. Ironically, the village would have incurred a contingent liability “clawback” up to $550,000 if it terminated the deal prior to the end of the term.
Even if the council had voted to approve the lease, there were clear violations of Article 7 of the Miami-Dade County Charter that prohibit commercial activities in public parks.
The nearby residents are not opposed to a restaurant, but we were opposed to this particular one: It was not fiscally responsible and did not fit in this neighborhood.
Mayor Lerner’s failed leadership on this issue has left many residents and elected officials trying to pick up the pieces. We elected her to bring the community together, and now she is trying to tear us apart.
Angel Gallinal, Pinecrest