Act II in the planning process for a new Aquatic Center in Miami Springs played out this past Monday night, June 23 at the regular council meeting. It starred Willie Bermello and the Miami Springs council, but they invited you, the public, to take part in Act III next Wednesday, July 2, at a special performance at 7 p.m. in council chambers.
Bermello and his team members from his B&A consulting firm had culled the options for the Aquatic Center concept down to three from the previous Monday’s Special Meeting. Staying within the $5 million budget that the council had demanded at that meeting had been difficult; Bermello was only able to succeed on one of the three concepts he was presenting at Monday’s meeting.
“We are trying to make big policy decisions in conjunction with your budget,” said Bermello. “We would love to have the budget of Doral but Miami Springs is not in that position. We are asking you to pick one of the concepts tonight so we can start ‘pealing the onion’ and start choosing options.”
The council was given the three alternatives and all included a hybrid pool and a 14,000-square-foot Pool Support Building. Concept 2, with the pool and building in the north end of the Community Center parking lot, was the only one under budget, estimated to cost $4.9 million.
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Concepts 3 and 3A moved the Aquatic Center south of the current pool location and close enough to the Community Center to build a combined lobby/reception area for the gym and the pool. The only difference in the two concepts was the $591,000 cost (including mark-ups) to build the combined lobby. Concept 3 came in at $5.3 million and 3A at $5.9 million.
“By no means are we trying to rush this through and these are just preliminary numbers,” said Mayor Zavier Garcia. “There will be at least two more public meetings for resident input before the Master Plan is finalized.”
Bermello had promised future meetings with the public anyway; therefore, when the idea of combining a public meeting with a decision making one came up, the light went on for the mayor and four councilmen.
Bermello was anxious for the council to make a decision but was willing to “go to the marketplace with two of the options and give the bidders a menu to choose from.” He said his firm had never done “duality bids” before but was willing to try.
Councilman Billy Bain expressed a readiness to pick the under-budget Concept 2 and Mayor Garcia was pressing for a decision on this night, one way or the other. Councilmen George Lob and Jaime Petralanda, however, wanted time and felt the public should have input.
It was decided unanimously to call a Special Meeting for Wednesday, July 2 (7 p.m.), at which time the public is invited to have input on the concepts on the table. After the residents have their say, the council will make their decision.
The council made it clear that any input from the public in the interim will be welcomed. They not only invited everyone to the Special Meeting on July 2 but encouraged all to go to the city website (www.miamisprings-fl.gov) for viewing of the concepts and further information.