Miami Gardens / Opa-locka

Miami Gardens

Miami Gardens would use bond money to improve parks and recreation

The Miami Gardens City Council took another step toward preparing for a $60 million general obligation bond issue, by passing a resolution to establish new recreational and educational programs at city parks.

Mayor Oliver Gilbert said that he sponsored the resolution, because the city’s legal counsel advised against releasing the bond’s official language and he still wanted to have the plan for the money in writing. The bond is set to be used on renovating the city’s 18 parks and adding new police technology. The magnet programs might include activities at an alternative-sports building for gymnastics, a culinary-arts facility with a commercial kitchen and food storage area, and an entertainment studio.

Gilbert said the information on the bond’s financial breakdown among the city’s parks remains open-ended because he wants to have community and council input and thinks the coming special election in April will further the discussion.

“We [will] have several town hall meetings, and community meetings and crime watch meetings, it won’t be a secret,” Gilbert said. “I think the consultation is actually the election, so that’s how you consult with the public. You ask them to vote, yea or nay, they get to decide.”

Councilwoman Lillie Odom expressed some concern over how the latest plans for funding renovations at Sun Life Stadium would affect taxpayers over the 30-year life of the bond.

City Manager Cameron Benson said that any added cost to the monthly estimated average cost the city proposed, of $3.85, would only increase slightly if the plan goes through and the city loses the Dolphins’ $1 million in municipal property taxes.

“Maybe that $3.85 goes to $3.86 or $3.87, or something like that, based on the loss of that revenue,” Benson said. “But, it wouldn’t be anything that would significantly change from a monthly standpoint and an annual standpoint for the residents.”

The mayor also said that he plans to create an oversight committee for the bond issue to decide how the money will be divvied up. The committee would potentially be made up of members of the parks and recreation board, members of other advisory committees, or other council-appointed representatives.

“I specifically did not outline how it would be done, because I actually wanted to get you all’s thoughts on it,” Gilbert said.

The next town hall meeting to discuss the general obligation bond issue will take place 7 p.m. Mar. 20 at the Pentecostal Tabernacle International, 18415 NW Seventh Ave.

“We have a desperate need to raise the property value of Miami Gardens,” Gilbert said. “While I’ve heard the critics, I’ve heard no other viable solution, no other viable suggestion.”

“We’ve been doing the same thing as a community for years, this is an attempt to address the issues.”

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