As part of Community Conversations, we asked the following question to readers on social media and the Public Insight Network recently: What did your community do to improve in 2015? How can it do better next year? Thanks for all of your responses. Below is a sampling of your comments, some of which were edited for length and clarity. Learn more about the Public Insight Network and comment on previous discussions at MiamiHerald.com/community and select Community Conversations.
My community improved by being exposed to the improvements of other communities around it. My community can do better by demanding more enterprise and becoming less gentrified by overzealous leadership.
Lionel Lightbourne, Liberty City
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This year  was not Pinecrest’s shining year. As residential burglaries increased, our government flirted with a harebrained idea about expanding — while the very reason to incorporate was to remain smaller and safer than the county. Next year  can be better if the 20th anniversary party is as good as the 10th was in 2006 — where KC and the Sunshine Band played and the community gathered to truly celebrate. Hopefully they can pull off another great party next year.
David Auslander, Pinecrest
I have not seen anything that my city, Miami, has done this year to improve. On a daily basis I see traffic violations too numerous to believe. I grew up being taught to follow the rules because rules were for the greater good of all. Rules in Miami seem to exist only to be broken.
I like the idea of the Underline, and I hope it comes to fruition.
Carol Berndt, Miami
My specific community of Pine Shore (near the Falls) formed a neighborhood crime watch unit. It has been great to meet our neighbors and come together to improve our community.
Judy James, Miami
All that I noticed here in my neighborhood is the building of the wall beside the Turnpike, which was meant to be a sound barrier but hasn’t quite worked. Sort of like “The Great Grey Wall of West Perrine.” Southwest 112 Avenue was also repaved, but Eureka Drive really needed that. The intersection of Southwest 107 Avenue and Quail Roost Drive needs a major reconstruction on the northbound left turn lane(s) since the turning traffic backs up almost three blocks. Two left turn lanes are needed there with a reconfiguration of the straight lanes. I’m hopeful that when all of the turnpike work in this area is done (if I live so long) things will be improved.
Gregory Pitts, Davie
We installed a neighborhood watch sign and are making sure to watch out for suspicious activities and individuals entering our community. Next year we hope to actually have a fence and security, which will make us that more safe. I tell my neighbors to keep a full charge on their cellphones.
Charles Peters, Miami
Probably the best thing that happened this year was decriminalization of marijuana. There is much to be improved. Here’s a list of things my city and my county, and other cities and counties in South Florida, should be doing:
▪ Building mounds like the indigenous people did so that there will be dry land as sea level changes. Miami Beach installed pumps. Big deal. Florida is porous limestone. When the water rises it’ll take Miami Beach, pumps and all.
▪ Suburbanization is still strong. Many suburbs around Dade and Broward are being abandoned as the generations of people who have grown up in suburbs don’t want to go back. Northwest 17th Avenue in Dade, for example, is an endless row of abandoned houses. The sprawl should be abandoned. Abandoned neighborhoods should be roped off and turned into national parks. Florida panthers need places to live, too.
▪ Every single city in South Florida should develop its downtown, like Miami and Miami Beach are doing. Every city has its downtown. North Miami Beach’s downtown is 163rd Street. North Miami’s downtown is 125th Street. Miami Shores has a downtown around 2nd Avenue. Downtown Miami Beach is South Beach. Miami Lakes, Hialeah, West Miami, Coral Gables, Sunny Isles, Aventura — all of these cities have downtowns. And all of these cities are not Miami.
Miami is not the only city in Dade. It is one of about 30. By treating Dade County as if it were one city, we have exacerbated sprawl, increased traffic, prevented any steps from being taken toward establishing any kind of reliable or useful transport system. Sprawl is still pushing westward into the Everglades and we haven’t improved statistics for any endangered species. We need to restore Dade County’s true and iconic name, and we need to do it now.
▪ We also need to take steps to make South Florida less car-dependent. Car ownership is a big nightmare full of little nightmares and it is forced upon all those who live here. It should be like Europe, like Paris, where there are multistory residential buildings with stores on the bottom and a high density of parks and squares and places for people to simply sit outside. South Florida doesn’t have any infrastructure for human beings because we spent it all on cars.
▪ We also need to do more to promote integration of different races. There are too many white neighborhoods, black neighborhoods, Hispanic neighborhoods and not enough mixed neighborhoods. Every school should have an even distribution of ethnicities. Income inequality is still high and South Florida salaries often don’t cover costs of living. We are overpopulated, which is why we’re organizing hunts of endangered bears (I know that was Orlando, but still) and draining the Biscayne aquifer and rampaging into the Everglades despite a “development boundary” and why we have not made progress protecting endangered species.
David Ullman, North Miami Beach