Coral Gables

Coral Gables staff, police and residents exchange feedback at town hall meeting

About three-dozen residents attended a Coral Gables town hall meeting at the War Memorial Youth Center Tuesday night.

Commissioner Vince Lago hosted the meeting while several department heads, including police, fire and public works, gave the community an update on their departments.

Interim Police Chief Ed Hudak said that since taking the job in September, officers have been assigned zones in the community. The city has allocated $6.5 million toward updating its radio system, he added.

“We changed our strategies so that our officers can buy into the ownership of the neighborhoods that they serve,” Hudak said. “We have the same officers in the same zones to build that familiarity.”

Public Works Directer Glenn Kephart said the department’s main initiative has been to enhance neighborhood lighting for safer streets.

“We’re looking at converting our current lights to LED lights,” he said. “Not really sure quite yet on whether will be retrofitting or completely replacing the lights.”

Staff said they haven’t decided whether the lights would be white or amber.

City officials also talked about the tree succession program, in which Coral Gables has allocated $3 million to replace up to 3,000 missing or diseased trees. Installation begins Monday.

The Granada Golf Club course was also a hot topic. The golf course, which is undergoing a $500,000 a renovation, is cutting back trees and redoing the tees and fairways, as well as replacing rain shelters and reconfiguring cart paths. The project is scheduled to take about five months; the golf course will be closed during construction.

Although only a handful of residents spoke during the question-and-answer session. Popular topics were: crime,walking paths and traffic.

One resident asked the police chief about current crime statistics.

“We continue to trend in the right direction,” Hudak said. “I know that may sound like an ambiguous answer but it will be disingenuous of me to stand up here and give you numbers, they change every day. …We’ll compare ourselves at the end of the year, like a report card.”

Another resident asked city staff about possibly integrating speed bumps on residential roadways that are popular with speeding drivers.

“One of the things we are planning to do is purchasing some temporary speed humps,” Kephart said, adding that it would give the city an idea on whether or not they would be effective.

One resident asked if it would be possible to integrate a running or walking path around the Granada Golf Course as part of its renovations. City staff declined to discuss the topic because it was taken off the table months ago.