After blowing out the candles on his 80th birthday cake last Wednesday at Town Hall, Vice Mayor Ernie Sochin told residents he was working with county officials to make it possible for golf carts to return to Black Point Marina.
Cutler Bay’s town council passed an ordinance in November to allow golf carts on all streets within the town except South Dixie Highway and Florida’s Turnpike. The ordinance amended a section of a prior ordinance and now allows for golf cart use on county-owned and maintained roads.
Residents, however, are no longer allowed to travel to one of the town’s most popular destinations: Black Point Marina, at 24775 SW 97th Ave.
Residents, county officials, and the town council are trying to figure out why; Sochin has called for a meeting with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
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“It started some time ago, when we used to be able to bring our golf carts down to Black Point,” Sochin said. “It’s a beautiful place to come with plenty of parking. We all enjoy it. One Fourth of July, while I had my grandkids with me, we came down to watch the fireworks. Somebody on their own decided that we don’t want the golf carts at Black Point, so they stopped me and everybody else and had the police force turning golf carts around.”
Sochin says he has called Miami-Dade County Parks Director Jack Kardys and the public works department to try to resolve the issue, but is still waiting for “final approval.”
According to Sochin and residents, golf carts are allowed to go as far south as Southwest 232 Street before being turned around. Now the vice mayor is waiting on word for his meeting with Gimenez.
“I have been talking over and over again, trying to get this thing resolved and I can’t,” Sochin said. “So I’ve asked for a meeting with the mayor and one of his assistants has promised to get a meeting with me and Mayor Gimenez. It’s the most absurd thing. There is no reason for not having the golf carts here. There is plenty of golf cart parking.”
Current manager and former general manager at Black Point Ocean Grill, Connie Watson, says the Black Point ban is costing customers.
“We’ve lost a lot of business,” Watson said. “A lot of regular customers Saturdays and Sundays go other places where they can drive their golf carts…Fourth of July we are usually really packed and we lost a lot of business there because they are all going down to Palmetto Bay because they can drive their golf carts there. They don’t want to drink and drive cars and so forth. It is a law, but laws can be changed too.”
Cutler Bay town manager Ralph Casals said the town is working with District 8 commissioner Daniella Levine Cava.
““We are working closely with her and her staff as well as the Miami-Dade County public works staff,’’ he said. “Hopefully we will get a resolution here in the near future.”
Watson says she understands officers are just doing their jobs.
“Now that Cutler Bay has reconstructed for golf carts, they made the sidewalks bigger and everything,” Watson said. “We are losing a lot of business by not having them there. But I don’t want to get in a match with the cops or anything because we have a really good relationship.
“Right now I can’t point fingers because it’s a law on the books. It’s not one person saying you can’t. It’s not the police. They are just enforcing it.”
Sochin says the rule has hindered his tours of the town, which he says has more than 400 golf-cart users.
“It’s a beautiful place and when you have people in from out of town and show them the city. My favorite route is to take them down to Black Point and show them how beautiful it is down here and these people prevent us from doing it.”
“If I show you my stack of emails from these people, it’s like….it’s a small issue and it shouldn’t be…they are making it like a major, major issue.”