Miami Gardens residents engage in bond discussion

Town hall draws questions on how $60 million will be spent

Carla St.Louis | 3/6/2014, 9 a.m.
Bad weather did not prevent over 200 residents of Miami Gardens from packing a town hall meeting last Thursday to ...

The City Council did not distribute a detailed plan to attendees regarding the $60 million dollar general obligation bond. However, Mayor Gilbert informed the audience they would receive information about the bond by mail.

Residents also asked how the City will provide locals with an opportunity to apply for positions with vendors once they start investing into Miami Gardens.

“[The City] needs to work together with its smalll business owners and utilize all the in-house resources it has and then outsource for other businesses to come aboard,” said Phyllis Simpkins, a firefighter for the department of Miami-Dade County. “Are they going to outsource for non-residents or are they going to hire from within the City? How is the bond going to benefit the small businesses within the city who have not been given the opportunity to do business with the City?”

Gilbert responded, “The first source ordinance […] whenever the City is spending money with a vendor, the vendor is required to go to South Florida Workforce [and post available openings] to give residents first source to jobs.”

City Council eager for potential investors

“There will be multiple community meetings to ensure that our residents are fully informed about the bond,” said Vice Mayor Lisa C. Davis during an interview. “The Council members will also host independent town hall meetings in each of their districts and reach out to the City’s crime prevention committees to address the questions and concerns of our residents.”

Vice Mayor Lisa C. Davis added, “The bond will help Miami Gardens economically. It will not only offer job opportunities to residents and small businesses in Miami Gardens, but it will hopefully attract new businesses and industries to our great City.”

City Manager Cameron Benson shared similar remarks.

“For every dollar invested, the private sector will invest more,” he said to the audience. “This bond will begin the opportunity for revenues to grow in the City but we must make that initial investment. Once we do it will send the message to vendors that the City is open for investment.”

When further probed to provide an estimate of the projected figure the proposal will bring in terms of dollar amounts, Benson said, “At this time, it is difficult to determine the exact return on investment for this type of effort.”

After three hours of residents’ airing their grievances, Mayor Gilbert informed the audience that the City would hold additional meetings to discuss the bond but did not release the scheduled date.

“The City understands that combating youth violence is a multifaceted issue that requires a multifaceted approach,” said Davis. “Using this general obligation bond to revamp the City’s parks is just one aspect of our efforts to curtail criminal activity amongst our youth. We are actively engaged in exploring other measures, both strict and otherwise, to combat this issue.”