River Cities

Improvement projects on the way for Virginia Gardens

A new Water Pump Station on NW 40th Street has been one of the numerous projects that Virginia Gardens officials have hustled to get grant money for over the years and last week they learned that a new grant for road improvements on the street and a new sidewalk near Blessed Trinity School is on the way.
A new Water Pump Station on NW 40th Street has been one of the numerous projects that Virginia Gardens officials have hustled to get grant money for over the years and last week they learned that a new grant for road improvements on the street and a new sidewalk near Blessed Trinity School is on the way.

While the quaint bedroom community of Virginia Gardens spends most of its time quietly going about its business without too much fanfare, that doesn’t mean Mayor Spencer Deno IV and the council members aren’t out there hustling trying to improve their city.

And the most recent example popped up last week when Deno walked out of a Miami-Dade County meeting in downtown Miami with a big smile on his face.

The county, thanks to a great deal of due diligence by Deno and village officials that involved three separate trips to Tallahassee, gave the go-ahead to award VG, via the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), $466,000 for the 40th Street Project.

Add to that the state grant of $275,000 and another $67,000 from the Miami-Dade Public Works partnership, and $808,000 will now be available for VG to go forward with the project.

The project will allow the road improvement of NW 40th Street between 57th Avenue and 62nd Avenue, the replacement of sidewalks on 40th down to 59th Avenue, and perhaps most importantly the addition of a sidewalk on the north side of 40th Street along the south end of Blessed Trinity Catholic School.

“It’s a great accomplishment for our small town,” said Deno. “A lot of people worked very hard to make this happen and it took a lot of phone calls, a lot of knocking on doors and a great deal of follow-up to make something like this happen. I’m especially happy with the fact that we’re going to be able to get that sidewalk in next to Blessed Trinity so we can make things safer for the kids.”

According to Deno, VG initially applied for the grant last April and then went before FDOT last July with a PowerPoint presentation. Then it was off to Tallahassee during the budget process to do all of the “knocking on doors” of state representatives.

“A great deal of the credit has to go out to our state senator, René Garcia, and Eddie Gonzalez, our state rep,” said Deno. “Me being up there is important but you need to have some important folks like René and Eddie to help get you in some of those doors to make your case.”

Deno said he went to at least eight different state reps on the Natural Environment and Resources Committee while he was up there.

“We’re a small town, one of the smallest municipalities in the state, so me going up there and meeting people face-to-face was an important part of the process,” said Deno. “You have to make them see who you are, where you’re from and what your plans are. Would we have gotten all of this had none of us gone up there? Maybe. But the bottom line is that you dramatically increase your chances of success by going up there and meeting with those people personally.”

But Deno’s excitement for what’s on the horizon for his small community doesn’t stop there. Numerous other big venue items are also on the menu.

Most notably is the new Candlewood Suites Hotel, slated to be built on the property where the old Cisco’s Restaurant, a popular hangout in the ’80s and ’90s, is getting close to breaking ground.

Additionally, Pan-Am has entered into negotiations to move into the old Union Hall building.

Anyone remember that building? It’s been empty for a number of years and sits opposite Bryson’s directly behind Vito’s Bakery. Pan-Am is looking for a spot to set up new flight simulators and it looks like that will be the spot.

“We’re thinking that the groundbreaking for the Candlewood Suites could be as soon as early 2015,” Deno said. “Then you have Pan Am coming in to possibly take over the old Union Hall building and it’s just such a great thing for our community. How can you not help but get really excited with all the things going on.”

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