Cheers and applause were bountiful Wednesday at Cutler Bay’s 2015 State of the Town address.
Cutler Bay residents filled every seat and the perimeter of council chambers to hear what Mayor Peggy Bell, council members and town staff had to say about its recent progress.
“When you have a standing-room only and you put out 160 chairs, that’s a compliment in itself,” Town Manager Ralph Casals said.
Cutler Bay has grown 40 percent in the last decade. Attendees on Wednesday watched a video about the town’s achievements, growth and goals, before being treated to a reception in the Town Hall penthouse at 10720 Caribbean Blvd.
“I came away with a feeling we are moving in the right direction, that our residents are happy with the many improvements we have accomplished in the town in such a short time,” Bell said.
One accomplishment Casals noted was a savings of $819,000 for taxpayers over the next 10 years, afforded by the refinancing of the town’s major bank loans. Those bank loans include a refinancing of the town hall building, as well as the property.
“We had rave reviews regarding the video that we put together, which was kind of two-fold of what it was with the town as well as a promotional marketing video of who we are … a hidden treasure,” Casals said. “If I got anything out of that, it was a lot of thank you, we are very proud to live here. I had some folks that that are going to start telling their friends to live here.”
Bell said she is also proud of the town’s achievements, afforded by growth.
“Property values are greatly improving, 8.8% last year, an indication the town is becoming a much more desirable place to live,” Bell said. “This is mainly due to the many improvements to the town’s infrastructure and appearance we have recently completed. People want to live on peaceful, well-maintained tree lined streets where they can feel secure. Cutler Bay is that type of town.”
Bell added that she believed more businesses, providing entertainment, dining, and employment opportunities, will come to Cutler Bay.
Casals showcased the town’s ability to improve infrastructure without using town money. The Southwest 212th St. drainage improvement project, near Cutler Bay Senior High School, was funded with $700,000 from two grants. The project included an educational component with students from Cutler Bay high school.
“That $700,000 project was fully funded by two different grants, one from the state of Florida Department for Environmental Protection (DEP) and the other one was from Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). That project we are very proud of because we had to complete that project only in the summer time, the summer break of school. Not only was it a really tight schedule done within the time limit, it did not affect the traffic at the school in the middle of the summer break, as well as being funded completely by two grants.”
Residents shared compliments and concerns with their elected representatives.
“People said the town has improved greatly and is a very pleasant place to live,” Bell said. “People who own investment property are telling their friends now is the time to purchase property here, while it is still affordable, because the value is rising rapidly.”
“I heard the comment — we have a council that works well together, that has respect for each other — which is important in moving the town forward.”