Miami Gardens / Opa-locka

Opa-locka

Mayor says ‘Opa-locka Express’ is steaming forward

 

ldixon@MiamiHerald.com

Opa-locka remains a city known for its unique Moorish architecture and for being a hub for train travel in Miami-Dade County. With that idea in mind, Mayor Myra Taylor called the city the “Opa-locka Express” and said it is still “on course” at the annual State of the City address Friday night.

She addressed a crowd of a few hundred people Friday night at Sherbondy Village, including elected officials from neighboring municipalities, state representatives and numerous members of the clergy. The train metaphor was one of many Taylor used to discuss the city, its leadership and its nearly 16,000 residents. She also evoked Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech comparing her vision for the city, when she was elected in 2010, to a dream.

“What we needed were future attainable endeavors, that our people — even the businesses — could embrace. I had a dream,” said Taylor.

Some of the endeavors Taylor proposed for the coming year included a medical urgent care center, the redevelopment of the city’s historic City Hall and Magnolia North neighborhoods and annexing surrounding areas. The mayor also said, near the end of her speech, that she would propose legislation for term limits for elected officials.

“I have a dream, and now is the time. We have been bumping into each other within this four-mile square long enough,” Taylor said.

She also spoke about some of the developments the city completed this past year, and in the past month, including refurbishing the Helen Miller Center as an event center, the opening of a new park in Magnolia North and the completion of the Town Center senior housing apartments.

Taylor also boasted about the funding the city has received at the federal, state and county levels through partnering with the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation and through working with Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan, who represents Opa-locka at county hall. The city and the community development corporation have received grants from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Neighborhood Stabilization program, the Children’s Trust and the county, among other organizations, totaling $20 million since 2010.

Taylor also addressed some of the city’s issues with crime and noted that the city has not fully secured funding for needed infrastructure improvements like repaving streets and replacing sewer pumps. She noted that the city, which has a history of troubled leadership and practices, has to move beyond its perception.

“We were held hostage by many years of our past history, a major obstacle that was ever before us, rendering us at the mercy of others,” Taylor said.

She instead placed emphasis on reaching out to young people, mentioning that Opa-locka has about 2,500 15- to 24-year-olds in the city. She brought a few children on stage and called them the future of the city.

“I have a dream that one day they will take the baton of leadership and carry this city to even higher heights,” Taylor said.

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