A response: Setting the record straight

By Audrey M. Edmonson, Commissioner, District 3 | 2/6/2014, 9 a.m.
While reading the Miami Times, January 27, 2014 edition, I was surprised to see an article about the funding for ...
Audrey M. Edmonson

While reading the Miami Times, January 27, 2014 edition, I was surprised to see an article about the funding for the Southeast Overtown Park West Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). While I understand the need to be brought up to speed, the desire to hit the ground running and the preconceived notion of “saving the day” is a public-servant’s mantra when elected, many of the elements in this article were riddled with inaccurate information or misleading conclusions at best.

There is no secret that the redevelopment of Overtown, historically, has been slow to move and projects have been vastly underfunded or stagnated due to legal issues. However, Miami-Dade County has worked diligently over the years to remove obstacles or hindrances to projects in this area, especially those where we have jurisdiction. Just last year, we successfully entered into a settlement agreement with the City of Miami and the CRA to develop parcels of land that were the subject of litigation for over a decade. As a result, the CRA was able to finalize development agreements with All Aboard Florida and Overtown Gateway Partners Inc. which will at long last bring a fair amount of economic activity to the community.

The writer speaks about a 1982 Miami-Dade County ordinance, referred to it as void, and accused the County of unilaterally deciding to cap the CRA’s funding. First of all, there is nothing unilateral about the 1982 ordinance. It included capping CRA revenue after the 19th year of issuing a bond. The City was aware and in agreement with this cap as evidenced by the interlocal agreement adopted and signed by the County and City.

The CRA is currently challenging the legality of that cap but that issue will be decided by attorneys. The County has offered alternatives to ensure the CRA can both deliver on the $60 million bond issue that will fund the projects that it has promised and be a viable entity into the future. The CRA is in a position to move forward on the bond issuance and finally deliver on the promises it has made to the Overtown community. On June 19, 2012 the County approved the CRA to bond $50 million. However, the CRA did not move on this opportunity to move forward and start the long awaited projects. The CRA came back to the County one year later and asked that it be allowed to issue $60 million, the County again agreed and is looking forward to the CRA expediting the process.

The article also denotes a 2007 Global Interlocal Agreement entered into by Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami and a Community Redevelopment Agency but it neglected to reference, intentionally or not, that there were two Community Redevelopment Agencies included in the interlocal agreement. The projects that are referenced regarding funding for the Performing Arts Center, Port Tunnel, Miami Art Museum, Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium, Miami Marlins Baseball Stadium and parking to support the Miami Marlins, were from the Omni Community Redevelopment Agency and other sources and not diverted funds from Overtown. While it correctly stated, these projects have been funded and substantially completed, it is disingenuous not to make the distinction between the two agencies.