Miami Beach City Commissioners will not pay for a study to further examine the impact of a proposed urgent-care center at Seventh Street and Alton Road after the planning board requested it.
Baptist Health wants to open an urgent-care facility, along with an outpatient surgery center, medical offices and a diagnostic center, at a proposed four-story development at 709 Alton Rd., near the old South Shore Hospital. After some neighbors and representatives for Mount Sinai Medical Center spoke before the planning board and raised questions of whether an urgent care belongs in that location, the board wanted to further study the impact the development would have on the neighborhood.
The planning board had asked the commission to authorize a study by a city-paid consultant instead of having the developer pay its own consultant. Well-known Miami Beach developer Russell Galbut is at the helm of the project.
After some discussion at Wednesday’s City Commission meeting, commissioners did not take action, and the item died. The issue will go back to the planning board in March. Meanwhile, Galbut and Baptist are already preparing another study with more information to provide to the board.
Commissioner Deede Weithorn bluntly opposed the request because she felt it would set a bad precedent.
“We’re not checkbook for the planning board or for any other board in the city,” she said. “I really have no appetite for funding any study for this.”
Commissioner Jonah Wolfson said the issue should be resolved at the planning board level as any application would, adding that the commission shouldn’t stall a project that would bring more medical care to the area.
“We thought medical care and emergency care was important enough to authorize $15 million to Mount Sinai,” he said. “I would think similarly, we shouldn’t stand in the way of somebody bringing emergency care to South Beach.”
Wolfson was referring to a $15 million city grant for Mount Sinai to improve its emergency department. The grant was approved by a majority of city commissioners in June 2014, with Wolfson dissenting. According to that resolution, Miami Beach is paying the grant in annual installments over 15 years, starting Oct. 1 this year. In return, the city is getting a 50-year lease of 2,000 square feet for emergency management offices.
Proponents have emphasized the facility will not serve as an emergency room with ambulances coming through but rather an urgent-care center for use by locals with less-severe medical issues.
On Wednesday, Commissioner Ed Tobin said he supports bringing urgent care to the area and thought if the planning board wants more information, they should have the developer pay for it.
“I think it’s a good idea for the people on South Beach to have a place to go so they don’t have to go up to 41st Street,” he said.
Commissioner Michael Greico said regardless of who pays for a study, the focus of it should be to examine the traffic impacts. The building would be on the west side of Alton Road at the end of the ramp from the MacArthur Causeway.
In other business, commissioners voted to accept $1.7 million dollars in cash and in-kind sponsorships to fund the upcoming centennial celebration. The group of sponsors include:
▪ Seminole Hard Rock Hotel
▪ Atlantic Broadband
▪ Baptist Health Systems
▪ Live Nation
▪ Royal Caribbean
▪ Land Rover
▪ W Hotel
▪ Model Launcher
▪ Whole Foods
▪ Elaine Lancaster
Weithorn voted against the deal because of Seminole Hard Rock’s involvement, citing the city’s strong stance against gaming and wondering if approval would give the perception that the city was endorsing a gaming entity.
“I’m struggling,” she said. “I’m struggling that even this is an endorsement of gambling.”
Mayor Philip Levine said he didn’t see a problem with sponsorship because Hard Rock doesn’t have gaming interests in Miami-Dade County and they have opposed the expansion of gaming.
“From what I understand, the Seminole Tribe and Hard Rock is the most anti-expansion-of-gaming entity out there in the entire state,” he said.