Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Bond board meets to discuss role in Miami Gardens’ development

Nearly a year after Miami Gardens voters approved a $60 million general obligation bond to fund parks and public-safety improvements, the city’s oversight committee met to discuss their role and plan for the rollout of bond projects.

The oversight board was created by the city council last March as a means of keeping Miami Gardens on budget and informing the public how money was being spent over the life of the bond and the construction of various projects.

Assistant City Manager Craig Clay said the committee’s main role is to ensure that bond money is only spent on projects that are outlined in the city’s implementation plan, which the city council approved in February.

The plan identifies the placement of new facilities and outlines the improvements that will take place at the parks and also details the public safety component of the bond that includes new surveillance cameras and license plate readers.

Members of the committee expressed some concern over their limited duties and said they didn’t want to simply be a “rubber stamp” board with limited influence.

“I don’t see the authority yet that this committee has,” oversight board Vice Chairwoman April Rolle said.

Clay said that despite those concerns the oversight board still plays an important part in interacting with the public and communicating potential problems to the city council, beyond staff reports.

“When we talked about the purpose of the committee, your purpose is to make sure what is [in the plan] is consistent with what we’re spending money on,” Clay said.

Board member Lonnie Lawrence said ultimately he wants to make sure residents understand the board’s purpose and what is happening with the bond projects as they’re built.

“There are people in the community who have the wrong impression about what this committee is supposed to do,” Lawrence said. “They have an impression of choosing and implementation rather than overseeing what has been selected for implementation.

“I think it’s important that we’re in a position to do some things.”

The city has already spent about $462,000 on legal counsel and the bond’s underwriter. City staff estimates that about $26 million of the bond funds will be spent on major renovations while another $23 million will be spent on other renovations across the city’s 18 parks.

Other board members are Chairman Larry Capp, Sonia Flowers, Amy Coleman, Natalie Piner and Sherwood Dubose.

The committee plans to meet on a quarterly basis to coincide with quarterly staff reports on the bond projects. They will hold their next meeting 6:30 p.m. April 8 to further discuss their bylaws and meeting structure at City Hall, 18605 NW 27th Ave.

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