Cutler Bay Mayor Peggy Bell, council members and town staff on Wednesday went from tarmac to town hall: The town council had its monthly meeting, taking the dais to discuss the events of Miami-Dade County Days in Tallahassee and overview a recent agenda.
Miami-Dade County Days occurred April 8 and April 9. The event was founded by Cutler Bay’s first mayor, former state Rep. John Cosgrove, who died in 2006. The event takes places during the annual Florida legislative session and features more than 1,000 people representing more than 200 organizations from public and private sectors. In its 27th year, Dade Days showcases the county and its municipalities to focus on community needs.
“I am hoping for stormwater funding and an observation tower in our birding area, among other requests,” Bell said. “Going to Tallahassee with the Dade delegation enables us to work together on regional issues that are common to all. Transportation, such as light rail, is of upmost importance to South Dade residents.”
Bell, council members and town staff met with state Senators Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, Gwen Margolis and Dwight Bullard, Rep. Erik Fresen, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Jean Monestine and several mayors.
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“I’ve gone to D.C. and seen that,” first-year council member Roger Coriat said. “It’s a slightly smaller scale version of D.C., but being able to sit in on a committee meeting where a commissioner was there … the mayor of Pinecrest spoke, people from Cape Canaveral … just seeing the process. I sat in the gallery of the House for awhile watching how they do their thing.”
Meetings with Diaz de la Portilla, Margolis and Bullard concerned stormwater projects, a business incubator, and the construction of a town observation tower. The meetings with Fresen concerned golf cart use in Cutler Bay, banning plastic bags in coastal municipalities, stormwater projects and the observation tower.
“Dade Days can be very productive,” Bell said. “Personally, I was able to support environmental bills and with the entire town council and manager attending, we made our citizens’ needs known to our state senators and representatives.”
Coriat and Bell attended a Senate committee meeting to support Bullard’s sponsored bill for a two-year pilot program to ban the plastic bags. The bill was originally sponsored by state Rep. David Richardson, and passed unanimously with the help of Miami Beach, Hallandale, and other cities and organizations, but still needs House support.
“The best part, something that (Town Manager Ralph Casals) said, ‘We go all the way to Tallahassee to talk to our neighbors,” Coriat said. “But it’s true. We fly up together. Stay in the same hotels. You get a lot of ideas. (There is) a lot of networking.”
Council members Mary Ann Mixon, Sue Ellen Loyzelle and Vice Mayor Ernie Sochin attended a Florida League of Cities session to discuss League priorities with other cities.
“Ernie kept saying people think this is all fun,” Coriat said. “It’s a lot of work, but for me the work is also fun. It’s interesting and exciting to see that.”
Bell and Casals met with Detzner to discuss the possibility of hosting state artifacts at town hall and grant opportunities.