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North Central vying to become City

Gigi Tinsley | 1/23/2014, 9 a.m.

Citizens in North Central section unincorporated Miami are working extremely hard to make their area another city in Miami-Dade County.

“I have followed the City hood efforts in North Central for several years and applaud the dedication and tenacity of the leaders and the community to stay the course of this most important empowerment initiative,” said former Mayor Shirley Gibson from Senegal, Africa. “Speaking from experience, the first step in changing the community is to have self governance within the dedicated communities. The only direct path to this is the initial vote for incorporation.”

The majority of the citizens agreed with having self-governance. The echoes at the meetings and in the community were; ‘We have no interest in being annexed to Hialeah, Opa-locka, North Miami or the City of Miami, and face the destruction of another community.” Opa-locka has already placed an application for the Gratigny Industrial Park, which is the largest part of the North Central commercial tax base. According to public and the group’s records, the Park is worth $250,000,000 of their taxable value.

According to records, the citizens have been working on this issue for the last 10 years.

The North Central area consists of 12.9 square miles, 70,000 people, 62 percent Black; 25,000 properties, several major commercial corridors, and sits in the center of Miami-Dade County.

After the moratorium on incorporation and annexation was lifted, the North Central MAC [Municipal Advisory Committee] was reactivated and the citizens held their first meeting in June, 2013.

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Walter Collins

According to Chairman Mack Samuel, the following individuals are the officers for the North Central Committee: Greg Samms, vice-chair; Merdochey LaFrancis, secretary; Walter Collins, Board Member and Rev. Dr. Mark Gardner, chairman of the Steering Committee.

The majority of the citizens believe that the Miami-Dade Commission prefers annexation over incorporation. Also noted was, the County has not instituted an orderly process for determining which road is most suitable for each of the remaining unincorporated areas.

Samuel said that even though there is no orderly process to follow, “various surveys/inquiries have been conducted inviting surrounding municipalities to express their interest in annexing portions of North Central. This may have been seen as an invitation to openly carve up our

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Shirley Gibson

community, with the prime commercial edges going to the highest bidder. Such glaring ‘cherry picking’ has not been limited or discouraged by the commissioners.”

Collins said, “We are working hard to live the freedom our ancestors worked, fought and died to give us. We chose to buy homes and rent houses and apartments in North Central and it does not make sense to sit back and just allow others to direct our paths. Nobody cares more about out young males and females than we do.”

The pastor of the Northside Church of God and the Chairperson of the Steering Committee for Incorporation, Gardner, stated how important incorporation is for the people within the North Central boundaries. “We have always been governed by people who are physically, financially and socially disconnected from us — the grassroots people.

We must clearly understand that, ‘the opportunity of a lifetime must be seized during the lifetime of the opportunity.”

This is our opportunity to self-govern and chart the course of our smart city, that consist of Blacks, browns, whites and others, into promising directions that will empower the powerless, give a voice to the voiceless and move people to action. Give us the right to vote for our destiny.”