With her first meeting as Cutler Bay mayor in December, Peggy Bell is listening to the town’s residents and working toward providing some of their requested services. Bell, a Town Council member since 2005, said a community center and swimming pool were at the top of the wish list.
“We heard the voice of the people as a result of the eight public meetings of the Strategic Master Plan held in the summer,” Bell said. “I want to thank all who participated. We received good information from them regarding the direction we should take in the coming years.”
Bell defeated former police officer Art Nanni in the Nov. 4 election, winning 56 percent of the vote.
“A community center was high on this list,” Bell said. “As the current park building is not large enough for the many activities of both youth and adults, the adult and senior activities may be accommodated in our Town Hall building, with transportation provided by our circulator bus.
“Our manager has assured me he will provide a plan in January to use this facility, thereby providing the services asked for without raising taxes to fund a community center.”
Bell said funds were previously placed in the budget to design a new pool, and the town will “explore funding for it.” The town put $12,000 toward a pool master plan in this year’s budget. A new pool would replace the aging one at Cutler Ridge Park, 10100 SW 200th St.
Town Manager Ralph Casals said the new pool is in the planning stage.
“It is what we’ve heard from the community,” Casals said. “That’s what the community wants. Right now we are going through the planning phase. Lets go through the planning phase and go from there. But we’ve heard very loud and clear that the pool is an integral part of Cutler Bay, and we are not going to get rid of it.”
Casals said the town would request bids for a consultant and engineers to collect cost estimates.
During the town’s budget workshop meetings, Casals also agreed to explore the idea of using existing space at Town Hall for adult and senior citizens’ programs. The town now uses a community center at Cutler Ridge Park for both adult and youth activities.
“So what we are doing is outgrowing that building,” Casals said. “My concept is exploring the possibility of using existing empty space we have in this building [Town Hall] for adult programs. We know they want to have someplace safe, centrally located and [accessible by] the circulator bus. So we can shift some of those adult programs here and have less stress on Cutler Ridge Park.”
“I provided the Parks and Recreation Committee a concept and some floor plans so we can start thinking about that. Why build a new community center when we have the space here?”
The Town Council has canceled its Nov. 19 meeting and will next meet on Dec. 10 in the Town Hall council chambers, 10720 Caribbean Blvd.
“I am looking forward to working with the new council, as a team, to move our town in a positive direction,” Bell said. “The most immediate plan will be to implement the items that the public felt were most important to them, their priorities.”