LETTER TO THE EDITOR

***********UPDATE and RETRACTION***************:
Councilman Fajet has left a comment on here rightly pointing out that he answered my question in an August 21 email to me. I have no problem admitting when I make a mistake. Councilman Fajet did answer my August 21 email on the same day. He stated in that email that he first heard about the RTZ plan on the Friday before the August 9th council meeting. I missed the email and for that, I apologize to Fajet and the community. I work very hard to ensure accuracy and I missed his reply. That’s on me. However, to be fair, I had asked the question before as well. One of the biggest reasons I wanted the council to go on the record at the council meeting was for the community at large to hear in total clarity the answers instead of piecemeal where things can fall through the cracks as it did here. When Mayor Mitchell said she heard in late May she seemed to be including Councilman Fajet. That is why I wanted each member to give clear answer but none were forthcoming at the meeting. But again, I apologize for the error. – Jim Llewellyn

Dear Mayor Mitchell: 

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Please answer clearly and specifically on the record at the September 13th council meeting: Why did you fail to warn the residents about the county’s Rapid Transit Zone’s catastrophic threats to Miami Springs for over two months? Why did you continue to push for the Metrorail Pedestrian Bridge over those months even when you knew it was an integral part of the RTZ plan for high-density housing projects and the massive influx of residents?

 

Dear Councilman Fajet: 

Please answer clearly and specifically on the record at the September 13th council meeting: Why did you fail to warn the residents about the county’s Rapid Transit Zone’s catastrophic threat to Miami Springs for over 2 months? Why have you repeatedly refused to speak for yourself on the record about when you first learned of the RTZ plan?

 

Dear City Manager Alonso:   

Please answer clearly and specifically on the record at the September 13th council meeting: Why have you repeatedly refused to speak for yourself on the record about when you first heard of the county’s Rapid Transit Zone’s catastrophic threat to Miami Springs?

Update and Background; On or about August 6th privately owned MiamiSprings.com put out an alert to the residents that the August 9th council meeting would involve a discussion of the Miami Dade County Rapid Transit Zone (RTZ) plan. The RTZ plan called for the county to hijack zoning authority in Miami Springs and add a massive influx of residents and extreme high-density housing projects possibly including 6 story buildings. Obviously, this would ruin our predominately single-family home community and overall quality of life in Miami Springs. Even on such short notice, outraged residents showed up in opposition at the council meeting in such numbers that they filled the chamber to capacity and overflowed into the downstairs lobby and out onto the sidewalk. For more info please go to MiamiSprings.com which is owned by Nestor Suarez. Nestor has long provided an invaluable service to residents by writing in detail about important issues. And in critical cases like this, he has mobilized the residents when city officials have failed to provide adequate notice.

I had made it a point to ask the same basic question multiple times on the record at council meetings and to individual council members and the city manager via official city emails. What did you know about the Rapid Transit Zone plan and when exactly did you first know it?  In other words, when did our city officials first learn of this planned devastation for our beloved community? To recap, on or about the August 9th meeting, Councilwoman Bravo, and Councilmen Best, and Vazquez all told me off the record they had first learned about the plan the Wednesday or Thursday before the meeting. They repeatedly refused to go on record at a council meeting as I asked but going on their word they first became aware less than a week before the Aug 9th council meeting. On August 25th Mayor Mitchell sent me an email stating in part; “you can go to YouTube for the August 9th meeting proceedings at the 51:17 mark for an answer to your question.” In reviewing that video Mayor Mitchell, apparently including Councilman Fajet, stated they had first become aware in “late May.” Nothing then or up to now from Councilman Fajet who seems content to let the mayor speak for him. Mum’s the word from City Manager Alonso has well.

Let’s examine some timelines on what we know so far. Going by Mayor Mitchell’s own words, she and Councilman Fajet first learned of the RTZ plan in “late May.” That’s over two months before the residents were alerted by MiamiSprings.com in early August. Why did Mayor Mitchell and Councilman Fajet fail to warn the residents for over two months? The mayor should have been sounding a 10 alarm fire bell but instead, she withheld the info from the residents. Here are some more troubling timelines. As I have pointed out repeatedly, Mayor Mitchell has strong ties to the county. She has voted for and pushed the planned Metrorail Pedestrian Bridge for years. Obviously, the bridge would have been utilized by the massive influx of residents after the county built the huge housing projects in Miami Springs. So it seemed likely that Mayor Mitchell had some earlier awareness of the county RTZ plan and that is why I was pressing her for specific answers. It gets worse. On June 29th Miami Springs officials put together the “Three Project Informational Center” at the Senior Center for residents to gather information and ask questions. One of the three projects on display was the Metrorail Pedestrian Bridge that Mayor Mitchell was still pushing. But still, no warning from the mayor about the County RTZ plans which was now at least a month after she said she first knew. Then, about a month later in the July 29th edition of the River City Gazette Mayor Mitchell wrote a letter to the editor addressing the proposed Metrorail Pedestrian Bridge. And yet again, still no warning about the Rapid Transit Zone’s devastating impact on Miami Springs. It’s very disturbing that while the Mayor continued to push the Metrorail Pedestrian Bridge she failed to warn the residents about the county RTZ’s catastrophic plan for over 2 months. Everyone knows that the longer one of these planned debacles advance through the process the harder it is to stop. Never forget that the previous council, which included Mitchell, betrayed the residents by submissively surrendering to the demands of property owners and developers when they increased downtown density zoning a few years ago. That council put the interests of for-profit corporations above those of the residents when they snuck in the higher density and inadequate parking concessions for developers without the general knowledge of residents after failing to give adequate notice. When residents finally found out, again from MiamiSprings.com and social media they marched on city hall to protest but were told, it’s too late. We are seeing a pattern of our local government keeping the residents in the dark. So why did our mayor not sound the alarm on the RTZ for over two months leading up to when MiamiSprings.com alerted the residents? Councilman Fajet owes the residents an answer as well. He has repeatedly refused to answer about his early knowledge of the RTZ. But according to Mayor Mitchell, Fajet, who is on the Board of Directors of the Dade County League of Cities found out the same time she did in late May.  So why did Councilman Fajet stay silent when asked and more importantly, why did he conceal this extreme threat as well?

Let’s get something absolutely straight. I’m trying to establish truth and facts about the worse threat to Miami Springs in its nearly 100-year history. I hold no inherent ill will towards Mayor Mitchell. I found her to be a nice and gracious lady in our few brief conversations. I have stated publicly that I think she is a very intelligent and competent person who has the ability to be one of our best mayors in a very long time. But all government officials, especially elected ones need to take responsibility for their actions and be held accountable to the residents they took an oath to serve. Trust, transparency, and honest government. Once trust is lost it’s very difficult to restore. And right now, whatever’s left of our rapidly diminishing trust in local officials is in grave danger. Mayor Mitchell and Councilman Fajet needs to answer and be accountable for why they she concealed the information on such a catastrophic threat to our cherished Miami Springs community for over two months. 

Jim Llewellyn
305-815-9545
JDRLlewellyn55@gmail.com

Editor’s Note: 
You can reference the stories regarding the Rapid Transit Zone (RTZ) below:

Proposal Increases Population from 14,000 to 37,000 in Miami Springs

Commissioner Gilbert: Bird Section is off the Map

RTZ RAPID TRANSIT ZONE MAP

Below is the map of the RTZ Rapid Transit Zone.  As you can see, the map includes the NW section of the Miami Springs Bird Section and the Abraham Tract that was annexed by the City of Miami Springs.  For reference, this is the southeastern portion of Miami Springs in the area of Le Jeune Road between South River Drive and Baker Aviation.

Rapid Transit Zone RTZ Map
Rapid Transit Zone RTZ Map

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Are you concerned about something in Miami Springs?  Want to share a positive story or highlight something good in our area?  You can submit your story quickly and easily with an email to:  Editor@MiamiSprings.com

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