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From the Sublime to the Mundane: The Nitty-Gritty of Growth

PRESIDENT GAIL FELDMAN’S MESSAGE FROM Winter 2015 BHA NEWS:We live in a city that’s growing at a dizzying pace. As we watch towers of unprecedented heights rise all around us, it’s both exciting and a bit frightening to those of us in the middle of it all.

At our January BHA meeting Peter Zalewski, of Cranespotters.com and Condo Vultures fame, shared astonishing statistics and his studied perspective of our current and previous booms. Peter’s information and knowledge flowed as fast as the breakneck speed of construction in Miami, so we were fortunate to have him also provide us with an article capturing the high points of his presentation. [See Peter Zalewski story.]

GailFeldmandHeadshot

BHA President Gail Feldman

Accelerated growth brings a myriad of challenges. The capacity of our infrastructure and governmental agencies are stressed to respond. Being able to get ahead of the development curve and make a plan that addresses community needs is a luxury of time that the marketplace simply won’t allow.

We were reminded of this when the BHA Executive Board met with key City department heads to discuss areas of ongoing concern to Brickell residents. That they found the time to come together with us with all the demands they face was remarkable. We were grateful to engage in productive dialog, face to face, with the leadership of public works, capital improvements, transportation and NET.

We feel your pain

They listened intently to our issues, made calls, sent texts and vowed to be responsive to our concerns. These aren’t glamorous or fascinating matters…street sweeping, trash receptacles, grass mowing, weed pulling…but as mundane as they are, they represent quality of life in Brickell. The City professionals around the table understood that BHA is simply asking for services for our residents that we rightfully should expect given the high taxes we pay, and in the case of garbage collection, fees we pay for services not rendered.

We listened and learned a lot too. For instance, we’ve always known that the addition of a traffic signal requires a traffic study and many hurdles to prove it’s warranted. But we also learned that it’s extremely expensive. Chief Transportation Manager Carlos Cruz-Casas told us the new traffic signal that many in our Brickell community have been pleading for at the SE 14 St/Brickell intersection has a price tag of $250,000. Brickell area developers are being asked to help foot the bill, as the need for a signal will certainly increase when their projects open.

Mr. Cruz-Casas vowed to help us with the steps needed to address the 14th Street signal, which will require working with Miami-Dade County which is the authority on traffic signalization countywide. He said he’d also help address other areas of concern on Brickell, including the left turn arrows needed at the SE 15th Road traffic signal and changing to a standard pedestrian-activated traffic signal at the 1800 block crosswalk. BHA also requested an analysis of the southern end of the Brickell corridor to evaluate the feasibility of adding a signalized crosswalk.TrolleyAppgraphic

We were pleased that the City heard the complaints of Brickell residents and others about trolley service inconsistencies and has implemented an improved system for monitoring and reporting on service flow. The Trolley App is now available for Android and iPhones that tells commuters when the next trolley will be coming. A strong trolley service, currently boasting 3.5 million riders a year, can be a major asset in the transportation mix as we strive to accommodate the 70-some new condominium projects vying to come online.

Goals for Brickell

Along with transit and transportation, BHA is continuing to pursue reduction of the speed limit on Brickell Avenue to 30 mph. We were victorious in securing the jurisdiction of the roadway with the City of Miami instead of FDOT. Now, we need the City to help us achieve our #1 goal for Brickell Avenue: slowing down motorists.

Other major BHA goals are listed in our Legislative and Advocacy Agenda on the opposite page. A few major items were accomplished and came off the agenda this past year, including changing the jurisdiction of Brickell Avenue and completing the Brickell Median Improvement Plan. Of course, new items have come to our attention, including assuring high quality maintenance of our median and preventing our new sidewalks from becoming littered with spray paint from the utilities.

I welcome anyone’s comments on other matters we should be pursuing on behalf of the neighborhood.

I want to thank Carlos Cruz-Casas, as well as Ed Santamaria, Director of Public Works, Jeovanny Rodriguez, Assistant Director of Capital Improvements, Orlando Diez, Director of NET, and Brandyss Howard and vonCarol Kinchens, NET Administrators, for their time and attention to Brickell concerns. Our group pledged to meet quarterly to keep information flowing.

We ask our neighbors to send concerns or problems you see to our Communications Director Natalie Brown, who will channel them to the appropriate city departments. nbrown@brickellhomeowners.com