Support Miami Gardens’ $60 million Bond

Miami Times Editorial Department | 4/17/2014, 9 a.m.
Miami Gardens is a young city faced with many challenges. Creating safe neighborhoods is one of them and protecting millions ...

Miami Gardens is a young city faced with many challenges. Creating safe neighborhoods is one of them and protecting millions of dollars in tax revenue from Sun Life Stadium is another. Both realities are growing pains for Miami-Dade’s second largest city that’s struggling to establish itself as the preeminent community for South Florida’s Black middle-class.

But in the midst of these challenges a vision emerges to transform the city’s parks and communities into world-class destinations for everyone to enjoy. As many American cities make drastic cuts in programs to make up for budget shortfalls, Mayor Oliver Gilbert has taken a bold step forward in another direction.

The mayor has placed the city’s future in the hands of its residents as they vote on a $60 million general obligation bond referendum in a special election that’s currently underway. Some 68,000 households were mailed ballots April 1 asking voters to pass the measure that would renovate the city’s 18 parks and help purchase sophisticated technological equipment to fight crime.

As part of this goal, Gilbert hopes to lure more investors to the city, an effort that would create a stronger tax base and financially secure Miami Gardens during challenging times.

But doubts remain over whether voters will pass the referendum. With $60 million dollars at stake, residents are justified in demanding transparency in making sure these funds are necessary and serve their intended purpose. Residents should also be applauded for asking city leaders to provide more than two months of advance notice of the bond prior to the election date.

To address their concerns, city leaders promised to create a website to allow residents to track the progress of the renovations. An oversight committee and financial adviser will also be available to manage and supervise the project to completion.

In the midst of all these concerns and town hall meetings, no other viable options surfaced for financing these renovations as Miami Gardens continues to struggle from the recession with the rest of the country.

But imagine watching a world-class chef giving culinary lessons in a sophisticated kitchen at a park, or residents enjoying a dazzling classical ballet recital in a stunning visual arts center, or seeing parents celebrate with youths as they discover the impact of robotics and technology in a well-equipped laboratory.

City leaders are proposing a good investment. Miami Gardens needs more positive realities to gain investors and healthy images in the media as the city remains under siege from damaging headlines and gun violence. The possibilities for attractive, well-equipped, safe parks are endless with this referendum.