Passionate voices, both meager and mighty, were heard April 19 at South Miami City Hall, sharing both concern and support for a new charter school outside the city’s limits.
The main item
More than 200 people flooded the commission chambers Tuesday. Current plans call for construction of a K-12 charter school on Southwest 72nd Street near the Palmetto Expressway. University Baptist Church of Coral Gables currently owns the 625,521-square-foot property, but a lease for the property from Somerset Academy for more than nine acres of the property was submitted with an application for development approval to Miami-Dade County.
The property owners filed an application last year to modify Somerset Academy at Christ Journey Church for an exception to permit the charter school.
Vice Mayor Bob Welsh sponsored a resolution urging the Miami-Dade County Commission to not change existing development approvals of the property. A traffic study provided to the city commission was more than two years old. The school is expected to include 2,500 students, while the property is currently zoned for 98 daytime students. The application also proposes to change current operating hours of 9 a.m.-1 p.m. to 7 a.m.-4 p.m. The resolution was deferred unanimously and will be heard at a later date.
“There are many South Miami citizens who responded three weeks ago with emails to us on the commission about this proposal,” Welsh said on the dais. “Three weeks ago, I passed out a flier citywide and the mayor started getting emails. He figured out I was on my bicycle passing out fliers. How did our citizens come back on this issue? … Overwhelmingly, they came back against it. They realized the traffic implications for South Miami. I got 10 emails vehemently opposing Somerset Christ Journey. I got one in favor. While I was on my bicycle for the last day and a half, I talked to anybody I could see to give them a flier. One person out of 60 was not seeing it the way that I saw it.”
Community center: The commission unanimously passed a resolution authorizing City Manager Steven Alexander to enter into a contract with Centurion Partners Health & Fitness for new exercise equipment at the Gibson-Bethel Community Center. Alexander was also authorized to enter into contract with ER Tech Systems Group for high-definition security cameras at the center, after the commission passed a resolution 4-1, with Commissioner Josh Liebman dissenting.
FPL franchise: A first reading of an ordinance establishing an electric franchise with Florida Power & Light for installation and powering of city street lighting within the city passed unanimously and will be read at the next meeting.
TacoCraft: TacoCraft Miami at 5829 SW 73rd St. will hold a sneak preview celebration. The Cinco De Mayo Block Party will be on Thursday, May 5. The commission unanimously agreed to a resolution to waive the cost of parking meters in the area.
They said it
“I’ve received a lot of letters from concerned parents and from concerned citizens,” Mayor Philip Stoddard said from the dais. “It’s my understanding that the parents who have children in the Somerset school system are uniformly delighted and ecstatic with the qualities they have found in these schools, and they are looking forward to the opportunity to transition their kids from the elementary to a middle school and ultimately to a high school operated by the same company. I don’t think that’s in dispute. At the same time, we also have concerns from some residents in the city and a number of members of the immediately outlying community who have expressed great concern about how traffic would further congest Sunset Drive, particularly eastbound. It’s pretty sticky already. Backs up … every morning. I know this because I have driven it. I also drive westbound to FIU every morning down Sunset Drive, so it would affect me, as well. So people are very concerned about the existing traffic and additional traffic.”
The next meeting
When: 7 p.m. May 3.
Where: City Hall, 6130 Sunset Dr., South Miami.