Current BHA News
BHA News, Vol. XI, No. 3 Fall
2001 Election Issue
Brickell PAC Endorses Manny Diaz for
Brickell Neighborhood Political Action
announced its endorsement of the candidacy of Manny
Diaz for City of Miami Mayor in the upcoming election. After
a comprehensive review process of the 10 candidates, the PAC
Steering Committee determined that Mr. Diaz, a new face on the
political landscape, offers a businesslike approach to assessing
problems and developing solutions - just what Miami needs now.
The PAC Steering Committee said they felt
that Manny Diaz has a keen appreciation of the importance of
neighborhoods, which is important for Brickell as well as for
all of the other City neighborhoods.
"While all of the other leading
have already served the City in various
capacities, Manny Diaz
offers Miami voters a new
perspective and a much-needed breath
of fresh air
in the City of Miami's top elected position,"
PAC Chairman Tory Jacobs said.
ago, the PAC took a bold step in endorsing the
election of a political newcomer, Johnny Winton, to the City
Commission, and Commissioner Winton has more than proven
Mr. Jacobs said. "We predict
similar success in our support
the City of Miami Commission races,
endorsed Joe Sanchez and Arthur Teele, Jr. for reelection
in Districts 3 and 5, respectively. In both of these cases, their
experience, and the leadership the two have shown while in office,
worked in the City's favor in the view of the Brickell PAC. They
are important allies to Commissioner Winton whose district
the Brickell area.
Serving the Brickell residential community
from the Miami River to Rickenbacker Causeway, the Brickell
PAC was formed four years ago when BHA
residents became frustrated
by the lack of
representation they were receiving at City Hall.
Private developer and commercial interests were consistently
winning out over the will of homeowners. The PAC, allowed to
raise funds and support candidates and issues that align most
closely with its constituents, has proven effective since its
formation in garnering the attention of elected
the same time, the Brickell PAC empowers
taxpayers with vested interests in the Brickell neighborhood
but who are not eligible to vote. The PAC provides a voice in
the election process for Brickell residents, some 16,000
on the history of the Brickell
PAC and its stands
on previous elections and issues, click on
PAC on main menu.
On the Ballot: Bond Referendum, Most
Charter Changes Get Thumbs Up from BHA
A $255 million bond referendum on the
Nov. 13th ballot-the date of the anticipated runoff election
for the mayor's race-got a vote of support from BHA Directors
at their October meeting. City of Miami staffers, including City
Manager Carlos Gimenez and Assistant City Managers Dena Bianchino
and Bob Nachlinger, explained program's structure and how the
timing is favorable for such investments without increasing
current 1.218 millage rate.
Historically low interest rates make this
a good time for a bond program, staffers explained. Additionally,
the City hasn't issued bonds for several years leaving it with
a large, untapped capacity for the debt service. Further, the
City's bond ratings have improved and are expected to be upgraded
again when officials travel to New York for a new review by the
bond rating services.
Entitled Homeland Defense/Neighborhood
Improvement Bonds, proceeds would be allocated among five major
categories including Public Safety, Parks and Recreation, Streets
and Drainage, Municipal Facilities and Historic Preservation.
See the City of Miami's
website for more details about the improvements
President's Column: By T. Sinclair (Tory)
We talk, we complain, we wish. . .NOW is
the time to ACT!
On November 6th, we can elect Manny Diaz
Mayor of Miami.
And, we should. We should
because Manny Diaz is the best qualified
The Brickell Neighborhood PAC's Steering Committee
thoroughly evaluated the field and overwhelmingly endorsed Diaz'
Diaz will lead without being confrontational.
will put an end to the "us vs. them" perception
that has been pervasive throughout the community, especially
at City Hall. He has the energy, coupled with an incisive grasp
of problems and issues, which enable him to provide the unifying
force now so needed in our City.
Manny Diaz will fight for us, but not
fight the Commission or the Administration. He knows how to make
things work because, as a successful businessman, he knows how
to motivate people.
Can Brickell voters make
the difference again?
Two years ago, we pushed Johnny Winton,
a neophyte politician, over the top. And he has done us and all
Can we do it again, give another neophyte
politician the momentum to win out over a crowded field of mostly
previous officeholders? The campaign professionals say we can,
provided that we get out the vote in our primary two
do it! Let's give Miami the leadership
Most importantly, we all must vote.
Our influence at City Hall is a function of not just our numbers,
but even more meaningful, the percentage of eligible voters who
Candidates Forum Draws Crowd for Mayoral
Eight of the 10 candidates vying for the
mayoral office for the City of Miami addressed homeowners in
a lively evening at the Tenth Annual Candidates Forum September
The meeting hall was packed at the Immanuel
Lutheran Church where homeowners from the Brickell neighborhood,
Miami Roads and South Miami Avenue, as well as Brickell area
business people, gathered to hear the platforms and ask questions
of those running for the City's highest office.
Among the issues, parks and greenspace
and the interests of citizens versus the interests of developers
came up often, as did the scandal, corruption and mismanagement
that has plagued the city in recent years.
José Garcia-Pedrosa told residents
that Miami came in dead last among American cities in park space
per person and that the city needs equalizers like parks and
cultural attractions. You "don't build a city only by pouring
concrete," he said. Open spaces and quality of life defines
Former Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez said in his view
Bicentennial Park, Watson Island and Virginia Key should remain
open parks available to the public. Addressing a topic high on
the list for Brickell residents, Suarez said that commercial
encroachment needs to be kept in check and that it's a matter
of adhering to the zoning code that's in place to protect residents'
Emilio Antunez told Brickell residents
that the size of City government needs to be limited, that
property owners' will should take
precedence in zoning considerations
competition and privatization are needed.
"Rather than finding ways to bilk
people and encourage them to move elsewhere, I would like the
city to become a nicer, less expensive, tax and fee-wise, place
to live and do business," he said.
Gort, giving up his commission seat to run for mayor, said that
interaction between the commissioners and the mayor is critical
and that the current level of communication is not where it should
be. Commissioner Gort is optimistic for the City, however, saying
that its geographical location places Miami at the center of
the global market. He said he will work to make this City the
capital of the world."
Incumbent Mayor Joe Carollo cited the
positive progress the City has made in the past four years while
he has presided as mayor, including more growth than ever, the
lowest crime rate since 1967, and the lowest millage rate in
the past 50 years. When you mention Miami, people get "a
gleam in their eye," the Mayor said, "Everyone wants
Candidate Manny Diaz said while Miami's
growth rate has been only seven percent, the poverty rate has
increased 70 percent. Mr. Diaz, who was later named the Brickell
Neighborhood PAC's endorsed candidate, blames corruption and
self-dealing which has made Miami lag behind other cities. Miami
"needs to go back to basics and even involve the schools"
in the successful way Chicago has, he said.
Danny Couch said
his qualifications stem from his experience as an administrator
for the City of Miami Beach and his ability to identify
Maurice Ferré, a former mayor of
Miami for 12 years who is credited with much of the growth
in Miami and Brickell in the 70s and
80s, said what many observers
of this election have
agreed upon: "This is an important
that will decide the direction the City of Miami will
The BHA extends its gratitude to all the candidates for
in the Forum and sharing their views.
The BHA also thanks its
partners in sponsoring the
10th Annual Candidates Forum: Miami-Roads
Neighborhood Civic Association, Brickell Area Association and
South Miami Avenue Homeowners Association. Above Dr. Robert McCabe
of the South Miami Avenue Homeowners Association queries candidates.
At right, Joe Wilkins of the Miami Roads Neighborhood Civic
explains the evening's format to the
Brickell Medians: Just in Time for
Christmas, you'll have your
beautiful medians and
landscaping in place."
That was the word to BHA in mid-October
from Albert Dominguez, Assistant Director of Public Works for
the City of Miami, overseers of the project. The colorful little
flags seen everywhere mark feeder placements for the new irrigation
system, the first step in the process.
The City's $100,000 investment in the
Brickell median project will be combined with a $30,000 grant
from the Florida Department of Transportation, lobbied by the
residents recall that a new irrigation
landscaping was completed for the medians only six
years ago. The installation was plagued with an underground watering
system that never worked properly as well delayed maintenance
by the City and its subcontractors. The landscaping never held
up and the newly planted medians quickly deteriorated. City staffers
vow that this time it will be done right, in a way that will
be lush and lasting.
On 25th Road and Brickell Avenue
to the water, Coscan Homes, the builder of The Metropolitan,
has improved the medians with added landscaping and irrigation.
Mr. Dominguez says he hopes that Coscan will complete the
of the one-block stretch of 25th Road
by blacktopping the remainder
of the street which
now has a patchwork appearance.
In other roadwork, north of the Brickell
residential neighborhood in Brickell's commercial district FDOT
has the road dug up to bring utility lines underground to
Other work in the area is aimed at
improving flood control systems.
cleaning of storm drains is going on now, Mr. Dominguez
said. City crews are inspecting piping systems and
"We think with all the construction,
the system is suffering due to being clogged by debris,"
he said. "We've adopted additional policies for development
companies to clean the storm water management infrastructure
since they're the ones messing it up."
A Bigger Vision
The Brickell Homeowners
Association is considering further major
enhancements to the Brickell streetscape, having contracted the
nationally acclaimed firm, Wallace Roberts & Todd, to work
with its committee chaired by Paul Lewin. BHA is seeking ways
to make the Brickell neighborhood feel more like a residential
neighborhood, as well as to improve its appearance and safety
Pedestrian lighting, entry gateways and
methods for integrating the individual properties with the street
are all under consideration to help accomplish the mission, Gerry
Marsten of Wallace Roberts & Todd explained to BHA Directors.
Funding for the improvements, which Commissioner Winton has said
he will assist with securing, could be obtained through crime
prevention and environmental design grants.
BHA Recommendations on Proposed City
Charter Changes and Ballot Questions for Nov. 6th
YES: Ballot Question #1 Watson
Island Development Proposal for "Island Gardens" by
Flagstone Properties, LLC
The City requested proposals for the redevelopment of the existing
13.4-acre Watson Island Marina and the adjacent 10.8 acres of
undeveloped land into a marina and mixed use waterfront development
to emphasize diverse and public open spaces, pedestrian activity,
and offer a mix of uses.
After a competitive
the City Commission approved the
recommendation of Flagstone
Properties as the
successful proposer to develop a mixed-use
development including a fish market, marina facilities, public
gardens, a maritime gallery, two hotels, 14 restaurants, dining,
and retail Island Gardens. Flagstone proposes the creation
of approximately 2,500 permanent jobs and approximately 10,000
jobs during the two-year+ construction period. Flagstone will
invest $281 million in the project.
NO POSITION: Ballot Question #2
Property Tax Exemptions
This proposed Charter change will:
- Allow the City to
use property tax abatement
as an economic
development tool within the City as it currently
is in the County and in the State.
- Allow for no decrease in tax revenue,
as the exemption would only be granted for added improvements
made by new or expanding businesses.
This economic development will provide
incentives for businesses to create jobs in the City.
*Though tax abatement as an incentive for development is a
proven tool, it must be used with great care so that current
taxpayers aren't faced with unfair competition.
NO: Charter Amendment
#1 Civilian Investigative Panel
proposed Charter Amendment will:
- Establish an independent panel composed
of a police chief appointee and exclusively civilian members
nominated by the public and approved by the City Commission to
act as independent citizens' oversight of the sworn Police
Panel shall be advised by Independent
appointed by the Panel with the approval of the City
Panel shall have subpoena powers
that may only be
used upon approval of Independent Counsel and
consultation with the State Attorney.
- The Panel may not confer immunity and
shall not interfere with any pending or potential criminal
- The Panel may conduct independent
of police misconduct, review
policies and make recommendations
to the City
Manager and/or Police Chief.
YES: Charter Amendment #2 Charter
The proposed Charter amendment will:
- Keep in the Charter
all of the Citizens
the language of the Charter to
make it gender
the size and complexity of the
eliminating provisions which have been superseded
in State law.
- Remove from the Charter sections governing
operations which have been transferred to Miami-Dade County.
- Move those items from the Charter which
should be addressed in the City Code.
CONDITIONS: Charter Amendments
#3 Sale or
Lease of City-owned Property
The recommended changes for
selling or leasing City-owned property
- Create exceptions in the referendum
for certain non-waterfront City
property valued at $500,000 or
authorization by four-fifths of the Commission.
- Provide exemptions from the competitive
process for conveyance of property acquired by foreclosure, tax
delinquent or certain non-waterfront property that is 7,500 square
feet or less or is non-buildable.
- Create an exception from the referendum
requirement for the issuance of license agreements for less than
one year on Watson Island which will permit the staging of
events like Cirque de Soleil.
- Allow a onetime extension not to exceed
25% of the original term or 10 years, whichever is less, of existing
leases, for the purpose of funding additional capital
*BHA recommends approval of this charter
change with the contingency that the extension referenced in
the item above be given only if the capital improvement is
Amendment #3, part 2 City-owned
The unified development project (UDP) process is the mechanism
by which the City develops its property in partnership with the
private sector. The proposed charter amendment will:
- Provide the
participation of those with
certain expertise or
affected residents in the preparation of
documents that invite developers to propose a project.
- Provide for two stages in the invitation
and award process. First, firms would qualify to participate
in a second phase without the proposers having to bear major
up-front costs until after the City knows enough parties are
- Changes to the process would attract
more interest and increase competition, thus improving the City's
return on its property.
YES: Charter Amendment #4 Commission
annual compensation of $5,000 for City Commissioners was
established in 1949 and has not changed since 1949. The necessary
attention and dedication to official duties by City Commissioners
has significantly increased, encompassing a major portion of
each Commissioner's daily activities. The proposed amendment
- Amend compensation for Commissioners
to establish the initial salary at 60% of the Mayor's salary.
- Salary to be increased annually in an
amount equal to the Consumer Price Index but not more than 5%
- Amendment would take effect Nov. 6,
Commissioners' salaries would be an
estimated $60,000 annually.
Interested in Saving a Life?
Brickell residents interested in learning
CPR are invited to contact BHA Secretary of the Board Mac Seligman
via email to Editor.
If enough residents are interested, a class conducted by the
American Heart Association could be held in the Brickell
sponsored by BHA.
Airport Official Updates BHA on Security,
While always her top concern, safety and
security now overshadow all other priorities for Miami International
Airport Director Angela Gittens, senior staffer Miguel Southwell
reported to BHA Directors at their October meeting.
"The public has to have the confidence
to travel," Mr. Southwell said, "We have to provide
Mr. Southwell, who worked with Director
Gittens at the Atlanta airport before she recruited him to follow
her to Miami as Assistant Director in charge of Business
substituted for his boss to appear
before Brickell Homeowners'
montly meeting. The
long-awaited presentation was going to be
airport noise abatement, which understandably took
a back seat to security concerns after September 11th.
"We don't know if people will tolerate
these long security waits," Mr. Southwell said, "but
right now we don't care as we have to be secure."
Other governing principles under which Ms. Gittens operates the
airport, he said, include economic vitality, customer service
and the final one that's been the contentious issue in Miami
for so many years, environmental responsibility.
"The airport has to be
self-sustaining," he said. "When
consider that the parking fees alone generated in one year
in Atlanta, for example, are $100,000,000, you're talking a lot
Indeed, airports are the economic engines
of a community, and the new leadership at MIA is intent on marketing
the airport to new international airlines. They've identified
roughly two dozen nations around the world that could link to
MIA, with each new linkage worth about $2 million a year for
the Miami community in terms of new business generated.
For instance, if Miami is linked to Hong
Kong, Mr. Southwell explained, in just nine months' time that
level of economic impact is achieved with business between the
two cities greatly facilitated by the airport
in our global economy, there's nothing
being there, apparently.
And then, once those international flyers are here, the next
critical component of a successful airport operation is tested:
"We believe that the airport makes
the first impression of the city," Mr. Southwell said.
immigration officer is the first line of
defense - and hospitality
- for the
challenge is how to balance policing
hospitality. Volunteers are under consideration as customer
service reps, as well as logical improvements to the environment
of the airport to make it more customer-friendly.
We don't want to hear it
Economic vitality and courtesy
to support South Florida's vital
are important to Brickell neighbors, but perhaps
hard to appreciate with the airplane noise overhead throughout
the day. Aside from the disturbance of noise pollution, President
Jacobs explained, people have to literally stop business as planes
pass overhead. It's more than annoying, it's
It's hard to fathom that MIA doesn't have
a noise abatement program in place, especially when one learns
that other communities have successfully addressed the issue.
When residents hear that the Atlanta airport spent $326 million
on their noise program, it becomes even harder to understand
what's wrong in here. No noise abatement program in Miami seemed
a surprise to Mr. Southwell as well, who is trying to identify
what the problem is that has kept us lagging behind.
In communities where airport building
expansions have been delayed, it has been because of public outcry
against airports' lack of responsiveness to the concerns of the
community around and below, he said.
"If airport authorities and communities
band together, the FAA has go along," Mr. Southwell
Directors who have been in numerous
airport staffers, local elected officials and hoards
of dissatisfied citizens say that they believe the problem is
with airport management and foreign airline company pilots who
don't want to do what it takes, and usually costs more, to be
responsive to the community.
They have to achieve steeper altitudes
faster, which takes more fuel, and they have to adhere to take-off
and landing tracks rather than the "spaghetti" patterns
they are currently allowed to follow, BHA Director Mel Frankel
happens among those in charge
at MIA, the FAA won't
solve our problems, it seems. With the
leadership here in Miami with Angela Gittens and her staff,
BHA officials have some new hope.
you'll be hearing more on this...
Fate of Historic Brickell Park Still
Residents, historians, environmentalists
and parks advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief when
the sale of Brickell Park to a private developer fell through
a few months ago when the remains of Native Americans were
on the property. Development on ancient
burial grounds is highly
sensitive, restrictive and
However, it is reported that the
City has now entered into negotiations
developer, putting our area's last remaining waterfront
greenspace at risk.
The Save Brickell Park group is still
active trying to fight the sale including legal action against
the City, however, a greater public outcry is needed according
to historian and environmental advocate Greg Bush to protect
this public land. Dr. Bush is seeking to develop a video documentary
to reach large audiences about this critical issue before it's
too late. Please see the column authored by Dr. Bush
Land ValueBrickell Park
and the Political
Landscape of Miami
By Greg Bush, President, Urban Environment
Brickell Park, a two-acre waterfront park
in downtown Miami, is the last piece of open land on Biscayne
Bay. Originally given to the city by the Brickell family in 1925,
the park was later allowed to deteriorate by various city
and is now seldom used. It has been
slated to be sold to a private
developer for a
high-rise office building.
The issue is a
critical one. In a recent national study by Peter
Harnik, Miami's park system was cited as among the worst in the
nation in terms of budget and amount of open space.
The question of title to the park is now
in litigation because the City failed to get the deed back when
a land swap with the Brickell family fell through in the late
1980s. Nor did the administration even allow a foundation to
move forward in trying to enhance the park with a new design
- done at no cost to the public. The zoning status as park remains.
The city manager, following the dictate of a 1999 commission
resolution, is presently trying to sell the land, the proceeds
of which would be divided between the city and the family. One
recent bid was in the range of $18 million.
Further litigation is likely after
Bob Carr confirmed finding numerous
bones of Native Americans,
thus activating State
legislation. A State planning process has
initiated for the nearby Miami Circle, and a baywalk and
planning effort for the entire area should be initiated as soon
as possible. City Commissioner Johnny Winton is examining the
feasibility of rescinding the 1999 order to sell the park, and
he may bring the issue back before the Commission.
The Need to Produce a Video in Rapid
of this invaluable waterfront park is imminent, yet
the documentation of the issue to stop the sale is intimidating.
The public largely does not understand nor appreciate the complexity
of the background of this important public controversy, and the
news media has ignored it. It is important because first, there
is precious little open space in the Brickell Avenue area. Second,
the park remains a sacred space for native people. Third, there
is a need to heighten public sensitivity related to preserving
and enhancing this prime piece of waterfront land.
A video documentary, completed in several
formats within a rapid time frame, could have a significant impact
on the proceedings and benefit the public's use of this park
space in the future. It could underscore to City officials and
others that such inattention to public space issues will no longer
go unchallenged. It would highlight issues related to the political
system, changing land value, and the sources of civic apathy.
This is the first of a series of documentaries to be produced
by the Florida Public Space Project of the Urban Environment
Concept Behind the Video Documentary
The 15-minute video documentary
will involve completing legal
and picture research
into the background. Four or five interviews
participants would be conducted among the following
- Dan Paul and/or Richard Hunt (civic
- Archaeologist Bob Carr
- The City Manager and/or City Attorney
- Historian Arva Moore Parks
- City Parks Director Alberto Ruder
- A spokesman for Native Americans
- The Brickell family, if available
The narrative would
be constructed as
a kind of historical puzzle,
seeking to understand why the park
is being sold,
the financial pressures that the City has been
under, and the various attempts to sell off other waterfront
parks in recent years. Viewers would see numerous historical
images of the area, reaching back to the era of the Brickell
Trading Post and the early development of Brickell Avenue, enabling
the audience to assess the Park's value as public waterfront
land and as part of a broader tapestry including the baywalk
and the Miami Circle.
Selected materials would be offered for
use to commercial TV stations and a 15-minute documentary would
be offered to Channel 2-WPBT as well as Channel 17/34-WLRN and
other outlets. Teaching modules for Miami-Dade County school
children would be developed to fit with curriculum.
Funding is currently being sought for
production of the video to bring this important issue to the
forefront of the public's attention and understanding. The pricetag
is estimated at about $16,000. To assist with underwriting or
for more information contact Professor Bush via email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
BHA News publishes columns on
matters of timely interest to neighbors on a space-available
basis. If interested in submitting a column for possible inclusion
in a future issue, please contact Editor Natalie Brown at
The Brickell Homeowners Association has
continued its support this year for neighboring Southside Elementary
school students for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah with
a donation for turkeys and toys for the children. Miami Police
Officer Jeffrey Giordano coordinates this special community effort
every year to make the holidays bright.
The BHA also made a contribution to the
New York City Firefighters' Fund after the September 11 terrorist