Promising progress for Overtown’s future

Audrey Edmonson | 8/7/2014, 9 a.m.
I am extremely encouraged by Southeast Overtown/Park West CRA’s (CRA) bold move of approving a minimum $43.5 million bond issuance. ...

I am extremely encouraged by Southeast Overtown/Park West CRA’s (CRA) bold move of approving a minimum $43.5 million bond issuance. This approval ensures that some of the long-awaited projects will begin to move in Overtown. I would like to see that all of the approved projects begin and are completed. That is what I have been fighting for all along.

In June 2012, the Board of County Commissioners approved the issuance of a $50 million dollar bond. The CRA did not move on this opportunity.

In June 2013, the CRA requested and the County Commission approved an amendment to allow for a $60 million dollar bond issuance instead. The CRA again delayed the issuance of the bonds.

When questions regarding the 1982 ordinance that restricts the amount of tax-increment revenue the County pays to the CRA was brought to my attention, I immediately began working with County staff and legal counsel to come to a swift resolution in order for long-awaited projects in Overtown to move forward.

In February, 2014 I wrote a response to an article in the Miami Times of my intention to resolve these convoluted issues and offer alternatives that move these projects forward. However, at every turn, threats of a lawsuit by the CRA against the County hindered my ability to respond to what has been referred to as “propaganda” and added to the decades of broken promises to the residents of Overtown.

The County Commission has authorized the CRA to issue the full $60 million in bonds. I strongly encourage the CRA Chair and Board not to fund projects piecemeal so that all the pre-approved projects can immediately commence. These projects include the rehabilitation of all the Town Park developments, the development of Lyric Place, St. John Overtown Plaza, Island Living, Culmer Center Housing Development and the much needed parking for the Lyric Theatre and the Longshoreman’s Union Hall.

I have consulted the County Attorney with an eye toward removing any and all obstacles that may hinder further progress in the Overtown community. I am hopeful that this step will pave the way for the CRA to issue $60 million in bonds. These funds will promote the immediate launch of job creation and economic development in our community. I am confident that all that are involved share the same sentiment.

Audrey Edmonson is the Miami-Dade County District 3 Commissioner.