A lot has changed in Miami Lakes since its incorporation in December 2000. There are more homes, schools and businesses that have replaced many of the town’s iconic cow pastures.
Miami Lakes is growing, but it is also working hard to hold on to its small town feel.
Home to weekly farmers’ markets, movies in the park and open Town Hall Meetings, Miami Lakes is one of the few, if not the only, cities that advocates community involvement and allows these events to rest on voluntary efforts. Now, as part of Mayor Cid’s campaign initiatives, the Town will be seeing many changes in the upcoming year.
“These events are organized and run by volunteers–by residents–by people who go to the committee meetings,” says Mayor Manny Cid. As the only candidate in the 2016 mayoral election who grew up in the town, he knew that committees weren’t always run this way.
“When I served on [the Economic Development Committee], the committees were very autonomous… Then there were several years here in the town where the committees were then converted into different factions where you had councilmembers serving on committees,” says Cid. “Once you put a councilmember on there, it changes the dynamic.”
“When I got elected, we went back to the way it should be. If somebody wants to volunteer and give their precious time to this community, they should be able to do so and come up with whatever events they want to. I shouldn’t be dictating what happens.”
Mayor Manny Cid has stayed true to his campaign promise by implementing “Mayoral Office Hours” on every first and third Saturday of the month where the office is open to hear Miami Lakers’ concerns. Just recently, the mayor shared a phone number where residents can text him 24/7.
If a resident can’t attend a Town Hall meeting, they can record a video from their smartphone stating their opinion on an issue and the video will be played and considered at the meeting.
“It gives people, really, an opportunity to participate in government in whichever way that they wish to do.”
By listening to his constituents in a way that no other mayor in Miami-Dade County does, he has realized two major issues in the town: public health and traffic.
And traffic is indeed a heated point of contention among Miami Lakes residents.
“The traffic in Miami Lakes is horrible,” said Helena Castro, activities director at Miami Lakes Educational Center and also a town resident, who is concerned not only with the current gridlock, but to what she says will be even more traffic congestion.
“I can only look to the future with dread as construction continues to progress. It will only bring more traffic headaches for anyone that has to commute through the area.”
The town, according to Cid, is working on the issue. They have also signed agreements to mitigate some of the most prominent traffic issues.
“This upcoming year you’re going to see a lot of work on Ludlam and traffic gets talked about all the time but we actually went out there and fulfilled those promises,” says Cid.
On Ludlam, a third lane is going to be created going North under the Palmetto Expressway.
“According to engineers that’s going to improve traffic flow in that area by 50 percent because it won’t have that bottleneck there anymore.”
On 67th Avenue and the Gratigny, the town has already funded a 28-million-dollar project working with Miami-Dade Expressway Authority to create more on-ramps and off-ramps to the Gratigny. They also held a meeting with MDX so 87th Avenue, between Hialeah and Miami Lakes, will have an entrance to I-75.
It is possible that by the end of this month, all of the streetlights on 154th Street will be synchronized in real time, through communication with smart devices that analyze traffic in certain areas.
“We’re looking at a ten to fifteen percent [traffic] improvement on 154th,” says Cid.
The town has gotten approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to create a bridge connecting 59th Avenue to 57th Avenue, across from the Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport.
Despite the traffic woes, Castro loves the sense of community in the Town of Miami Lakes. “I absolutely love the Farmers Market and the movies in the park,” which she says that she frequents and adds that during the preparations for Hurricane Irma she was “heartened to see many of our MLEC students and alumni among the volunteers that helped residents fill sandbags. These were my students and they have taken the time to give back and help the community.”
It is exactly this sense of community that the Cid wants to not only maintain, but build. So he is also focusing on health initiatives.
“It’s the future, we have to get healthier as a society,” says Cid.
The Town of Miami Lakes now has a partnership with Spin: a dockless bike-sharing company. Bikes have been deployed since November 18 around Miami Lakes West Park. Using a smartphone, residents scan the bike tag, pay a fee, and the bike unlocks automatically.
Soon to come to Miami Lakes is ‘Freebee,’ which is already being used in Brickell and South Beach. It will allow for two six-passenger, street legal, motorized, battery-powered golf carts to be on-demand via smartphone.
Optimist Park–which hasn’t been touched since the 70s–will be seeing redevelopment through a 4-million-dollar reinvestment. “You’re talking about putting in new basketball courts with an airnasium… Redoing the tennis courts. Redoing the concession stands,” shares Cid.
The town has passed three components to the redevelopment of Optimist Park: install a cell tower, new LED lights, and an agreement with East Bay. “Then at that point the decision we made in six months, if we borrow the money, if we come up with an agreement with a vendor to build it out and we do a payment plan, or if we just pull it out of reserves one time or look at capitals dollars for that.”
Aside from bettering the health of the people of Miami Lakes, it is also expected to remove people from the streets, and, hopefully, congestion as a whole.
Over 30,000 people now call Miami Lakes home, according to the town’s official website. It is an area that continues to grow and, the mayor hopes it continues to live up to the town’s motto, “growing beautifully.”
Source:: The Harbinger