In his 2015 State of the City address, Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert conveyed a message to residents that the city plans to move beyond negative attention and on to new development.
Gilbert addressed the crowd gathered outside Miami Gardens City Hall, 18605 NW 27th Ave., Tuesday night and focused on the city’s $60 million general obligation bond and efforts the city has taken to encourage new business.
The city’s bond program, intended to bring improvements and renovations to all of the city’s parks and to enhance police technology, was approved just over a year ago. Gilbert gave credit to residents for approving the bond issue and said the city hopes to patiently and strategically roll out and fund projects in the future.
He said the city will take steps to avoid overspending on projects early in the bond’s life and having budget shortfalls in the future.
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“We’re determined to avoid those pitfalls; that will not be our story,” Gilbert said.
The mayor discussed the recently passed resolution to create a business incubator in the city to encourage small-business development.
The City Council also recently passed a zoning change for the area along the Northwest 27th Avenue corridor, changing it to an “entertainment overlay” district that allows for mixed-use development and a maximum height of 10 or 15 stories for buildings, depending on the property.
Gilbert also discussed the sale and proposed development of vacant properties in the city. He said the 11-story former home of Parkway Regional West hospital at 17300 NW Seventh Ave. Rd., which was sold last year to BSD of Miami Gardens, will be turned into a chain hotel.
New owners have also purchased the property housing the Carol Mart flea market plaza at 18200 NW 27th Ave. and the Shoppes of Ives Dairy at 19801 NW Second Ave. within the last few months.
“We must create a community that allows businesses to thrive,” Gilbert said.
As he saluted a class of new police officers, Gilbert announced that the city will hire 15 new police officers in the next year and preference will be given to city residents.
“Those are police cars in your front yard, those are neighbors who already have relationships, that’s us protecting us,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert also pointed out that there were 10 fewer homicides in the city in 2014 than in 2013, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement data, but said more work needed to be done.
“Even one life lost to violence is one life too many,” Gilbert said.
The city will host a family night to provide information on city services and programs, particularly for young residents, Gilbert said. Additionally, the parks department partners with the 5000 Role Models organization in additional outreach initiatives.
“It’s become commonplace to focus on how young black men die, how they’re killed; as leaders, as a community, our charge must be to focus on how they live,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert said he rejected the idea that development can’t come to the city and said residents will play a key role in shaping the city’s perception.
“Our story will not be of victims, it will be of victory,” Gilbert said.