South Miami has many good reasons to consider rebuilding its City Hall.
Our City Hall is 50 years old, and showing it. The building is chronically wet: the carpets and walls mold so quickly they need to be replaced every four years, and employees get sick from the moldy conditions. Work conditions are cramped and noisy, leading valued employees to seek other employment. The building is not ADA compliant and it’s not energy efficient.The bad layout wastes a lot of land. By combining municipal and commercial uses, the poor layout of our site might be converted to value in construction of a new City Hall, police department and possibly a new library — with no cost of construction for the residents of the city. Even the federal government has leveraged public property for new construction, such as the new FBI headquarters.
City Hall could stay on the existing site or move to our downtown. The existing site could house the first building designed to engage the Underline instead of turning its back on the path as the buildings currently do. Rezoned to match surrounding properties, the site might yield enough surplus cash to help us acquire the Ludlam Trail.
No surprise then that informed citizens, city officials, and members of the business community have concluded it’s worth a careful analysis to compare the costs and benefits of renovating our existing City Hall to correct its myriad problems, versus consolidating land to get a new City Hall that better meets our needs and sets an example of sustainable building performance.
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The city’s Green Task Force recommended that the time was right for the Commission to give careful consideration to these possibilities: “A key part of these plans should be the investigation of the redevelopment of our City Hall into a civic building that reflects the environmental values of our city.”
The City Commission, in turn, has asked our city manager to conduct a preliminary financial analysis of the different options so we can make a better-informed decision about how the city should move forward.
The deteriorating condition of City Hall suggests to me, at least, that doing nothing is not the responsible option. Given that the Commission has not yet reviewed the numbers, chosen a preferred path or committed any money to building anything, it’s hard to understand why Dick Ward thinks that South Miami Commissioner Josh Liebman (or anyone) wants to waste money on a particular plan, or why Mr. Ward would look forward to the next South Miami election (letter to Soapbox, March 15, 2015). Our beautiful new pool opened for the season this week, where Mr. Ward, who neither lives nor works in South Miami, is nonetheless welcome (for a very modest entrance fee) to soak his feet, play with the kids and enjoy the spirit of cooperation and constructive engagement that has returned to South Miami since the last election.
Dr. Philip K. Stoddard, Mayor of South Miami
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