I read with great interest and concern Mark Trowbridge’s July 28 letter, The ‘City Beautiful’ is changing. My interest was caused by the subject matter — commercial development in the Gables. My concern was the somewhat flippant tone of the letter in dismissing the importance of the sophisticated character of the Gables’ business district and the trashing of traditional values held by those residents who are products of America’s Greatest Generation.
Miami-Dade County is a wonderful quilt of diverse cultures, races, languages and communities. Each municipality has its own personality, vibe, and image. The quilt would be less beautiful if any one of our cities were to disappear or try to be something it isn’t.
Coconut Grove and Bal Harbour are good examples of the proposition that South Florida has room for different types of life styles and different degrees of “coolness.” Within a 20-mile radius of the center of our county there’s no lack of opportunity for “Millennial and Generation X consumers” to meet their entertainment, foodie and purchasing needs. Coral Gables also has a distinct personality: calm, sophisticated, tree canopied, rich in history, Mediterranean — home of the University of Miami.
The Gables doesn’t need to, nor should it wish to, compete with the frenzied night life of entertainment areas such as Midtown or South Beach. The majority of Coral Gables residents, young and old, live here because of the quiet neighborhoods, the beauty of the architecture, the lush foliage and the city services.
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When residents and visitors choose Coral Gables for dining opportunities they are looking for good food, pleasant surroundings, affordable parking and an atmosphere that’s conducive to conversation and relaxation. During my ten years in the mayor’s office, many constituents, young and old, told me that they worked in the hectic urban settings of Downtown Miami or Brickell, but that they had chosen to live in Coral Gables because it is different: a community with a hometown atmosphere and a very special sense-of-place.
Attempts to make it just another hangout spot or to build structures that flood the streets with vehicles and block the sun should not be our game plan for the future.
It’s easy to use a reference to George Merrick to defend any position one wishes to argue, but there is no argument with his writing records, which clearly indicate that he wanted to create a visually attractive Mediterranean residential community supported by a business district that was distinguished by its grace and charm. Oh, and by the way, my grandchildren think I’m cool.
Don Slesnick, mayor, Coral Gables