Coral Gables

Soapbox

Letter: Coral Gables management should be more open

 

How to sound off

To submit your letter, email sandron@MiamiHerald.com or write Soapbox, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Avenue, Miami, Fla., 33172. Fax: 305-376-5287. Letters must address a specific LOCAL issue and must be signed with a name, city or neighborhood, as well as a telephone number for verification purposes. Letters more than 350 words will not be accepted, and writers are limited to one letter every four weeks. Letters will run as space allows and may be edited for length, style and clarity. The deadline for letters is noon Wednesday.


The recent departure of our last city manager hopefully heralds the end of an autocratic style of government which minimized the flow of information and marginalized the input of citizens. While optimistically wishing that I am correct, I am concerned. In the City’s “E-News” of May 7, there is another “announcement” about expensive public art pieces being planned for the two “Segovia Circles” at Biltmore Way and Coral Way.

This is a project conjured up by the departed manager without broad-based input. In fact, it appears that someone in the city has narrowed the list of “artists” to five “semi-finalists.” This is reportedly a $1 million-plus project which has never had a public airing with the citizens who live in the area. The circle at Coral Way it the main entrance to the Greenway Drives – one of our classic historic neighborhoods bordering Granada Golf Course. One would think that the residents should have a voice in determining if (1) they desire to have large art work in the circles and (2) if so, what type of art work. After all, this will impact the vision and value of our homes.

Those of us who live on the Greenways already host one of the City’s most active outdoor centers in our front yards. We have golfers, joggers, skate-boarders, bikers, walkers, walkers with pets (large and small), excessive on-street parking caused by catering events at the Country Club as well as overflow rush hour-traffic (morning and evening) from Coral Way. The homeowners take this activity in stride seven days a week from before dawn to well into the evening.

You would think that the City government might consider that it would be appropriate to give us the courtesy of weighing in on “nice-to-have” but certainly not essential projects which will impact our quality of life. I strongly support art in public places, but I might suggest that the city focus, instead, on solving the crime problems which greatly impact our standard of living.

Isn’t it time to go back to the days of open, participative government with a warm, embracing administration where citizens can be heard?

Jeannett Slesnick, Coral Gables

Palmetto Bay council should reject giant lights

After receiving over 300 opposition e-mails on what has become a very contentious subject, viewing a packed Council Chamber, and watching a parade of residents come to the microphone to speak against allowing lighted athletic fields at private institutions in residential neighborhoods, Palmetto Bay Councilman Tim Schaffer read his “government over the people” speech and talked about “fairness” as though he had not read or heard the magnitude of the opposition. As residents watched in disbelief, Schaffer advocated for private institutions over the residents. Even the speakers from the Southern Cross Astronomical Society at Sadowski Park were ignored when they pleaded to keep the sky dark so they could continue their 28 year history of public star-gazing service.

Although Schaffer was unyielding and non-responsive to the tremendous opposition to his proposal, one might have expected Fiore, who is running for mayor of Palmetto Bay, to have seen the light. But Councilman Patrick Fiore wanted to take the topic into a private meeting between the village attorney and the council — out of sight and earshot of the residents. The law does not allow this.

Vice Mayor John DuBois was preoccupied chomping on snacks and attempted to minimize the village residents’ outcries by saying only a dozen or so residents would object if the poles were placed at least 50 feet from their homes and the lights were on only two nights per week.

As the hour grew late, Fiore decided the best way to save his political future was to put off the vote in hopes the residents' resistance would diminish.

The Village Council voted 4-1 to defer the item regarding Schaffer’s proposed lighting modifications to Ordinance 30-110 to the June 2 Council meeting. Councilman Schaffer voted against the deferral.

Mayor Stanczyk and Councilwoman Lindsay steadfastly supported the residents.

It looks like it could be a 3-2 vote June 2 in favor of lights, if you don’t contact your elected council members and say no to lights.

Paula Palm, Palmetto Bay

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