At Tuesday’s South Miami commission meeting, Vice Mayor Bob Welsh put a face on his concerns regarding a proposed charter school on Sunset Drive.
The main item
About 30 people signed up to speak about the school, but the commission opted to take a vote based on concerns and support for the school it received through emails, phone calls, and at its previous meeting. Welsh’s resolution urging the Miami-Dade County commission to not change development approvals for Somerset’s proposed K-12 charter school on Southwest 72nd Street was deferred on April 19. It passed 3-1 on Tuesday, with Mayor Philip Stoddard dissenting.
At the meeting, Welsh told attendees about a woman who suffered a heart attack and was inside an ambulance stuck in heavy traffic on Southwest 72nd Street. The commission voted to amend the resolution, also sponsored by Commissioner Gabriel Edmond, to include concerns about the school’s hours of operation, rock pinelands, resident complaints of racial disparity in Somerset’s South Miami school, equal opportunity, traffic, parking and safety.
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Miami-Dade County will review the application for development approval, as well as a lease, that was submitted by Somerset Academy and University Baptist Church of Coral Gables.
“How does this affect South Miami?” Welsh said from the dais. “South Miami has an interlocal agreement with Miami-Dade County police to be the first responders to the areas close to us that are not South Miami, but the county. Should the school happen, and should my fears of paralysis on Sunset happen, the time that South Miami police will have to stay on the scene between when they are called and when Miami-Dade police finally get there from 117th Avenue coming down Sunset, that time will increase. ”
▪ Commission decorum: Stoddard withdrew his ordinance that would have altered the time limits for commission and public remarks to assist in the completion of city business and to improve decorum. The ordinance called for cutting public comments on agenda items from five minutes to three minutes.
▪ Drug law: The commission unanimously approved an ordinance authorizing the issuance of civil citations instead of arrest for certain misdemeanors, including possession of small amounts of marijuana. The citation is enforceable by monetary fine and is not subject to arrest or criminal prosecution, upon discretion of the South Miami police.
▪ Alternative work schedule: Although Welsh and Commissioner Josh Liebman dissented, the commission passed a resolution supporting an alternative work schedule for staff as determined by City Manager Steven Alexander. The proposed schedule is for four, 10-hour days each week per pay period. The proposal calls for all administrative offices in the City Hall complex and public works department to be closed on Fridays. Working hours for the offices would be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays. Alexander will provide feedback before the next fiscal year.
They said it
“I’ve personally gotten 208 emails from the school and I’m still getting them saying they want it in their community,” Commissioner Walter Harris said on the dais. “Except 180 of 208 I have gotten do not live in the community. . . . It is the worst location for a school. And I really like the idea of the school. It just cannot be on Sunset. That’s all there is to it.”
The next meeting
▪ When: 7 p.m. May 17
▪ Where: City Hall, 6130 Sunset Dr., South Miami