Coral Gables and University of Miami leaders met to discuss both the old and the new at their annual meeting about their development agreement last week.
The Dec. 10 meeting took place in the historic administrative building on the campus, at 1300 Campo Sano Ave. New UM president Julio Frenk, who was presiding over this meeting for the first time, noted the history of the building and said it was an intentional meeting place for the two groups.
“I don’t think Mr. Merrick could have imagined how far we’ve come,” Frenk said, referencing the city’s founder and developer George Merrick.
City commissioners, trustee board members and staff members took turns explaining and elaborating on development plans and highlighting accomplishments and places for improvement.
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As both UM and the Gables celebrated their 90th anniversaries this year, the meeting touched on some plans for continued collaboration, including connecting the two groups’ respective trolley systems, involving music students in city events and giving students an increased chance to engage in local government and business.
“I would love to see more opportunities where students in certain specialties received credit for certain projects that we’re analyzing, we’re investigating,” said Vice Mayor Frank Quesada.
The city discussed coming development in the Gables, including the Mediterranean Village and the Miracle Mile/Giralda Avenue Streetscape projects. The university highlighted the progress of the under-construction Lennar Foundation Medical Center, the new campus mobility plan and steps it has taken to improve student life on campus and to reduce vehicle traffic in the city.
Another main focus for both sides was discussion of climate change. The city and UM both plan to study and continue discussing how rising tides and other issues could affect Coral Gables in order to create potential solutions.
“This is both of our 90th anniversaries, but are we going to have a second 90th anniversary?” said Mayor Jim Cason. “This is going to be one of the most important issues facing us.”
The meeting had a mostly lighthearted tone as both sides lauded each other and their respective staff members and employees.
Most of the praise went to the students, including recognition of community service awards given to the student body and even acknowledgment of the school’s success in the Quidditch World Cup (the sport made popular in the Harry Potter book series).
“Our students are very, very involved, and we know from conversations with them individually and collectively they understand and they appreciate that the university has a long-standing relationship with our neighbors in Coral Gables,” said UM dean of students Ricardo Hall.