Well, as might have been expected, no one from our community (or any other one) had the time or means to attend June 20th’s downtown County Zoning hearing sham, so we lost another quality of life battle – and it likely would not have made much difference if we had spoken for the allowed two minutes per person, because our Commissioners were not about to listen to the simple argument we would have posed to them in opposition to the proposed two measures— we are already strangling in traffic !
Both issues— approval of a major future expansion of Jackson South Hospital (JSH) and permission to build a 13 acre “wellness center” west of the hospital– were passed with blind spot consideration of the future. The 13 acre matter (on appeal) had already been turned down 5-0, with prejudice, by our local Zoning Board 14, but none of the Commissioners even made mention of that fact.
Instead, the same developer attorney who appeared before the local zoning board on April 4, noted that “all the communities in the area approved of their project.” That is an absolute lie that at least two Commissioners could not have possibly been unaware of, and of course one wonders why local residents’ zoning board members already voted NO NO NO NO NO 5-0. How does that happen if “all the surrounding communities approved of this project?” Our Fairway Estates/Colonial Drive community (3562 residences ) certainly did NOT approve of the project, and we voiced our strenuous objections to it in the April 4 local zoning meeting AND in great detail on this website.
Let’s not wander from the truth. None of us who raised legitimate objections to these projects object to hospitals or “wellness centers” per se. This writer congratulated the developer’s attorney after the negative vote on April 4, and told him, “ I think this wellness campus is a fine project plan —except for one thing—“ it’s in the wrong place.” Lack of roadway infrastructure has already made future building development, not only locally, but in large parts of the Miami-Dade County, an absolute absurdity. We are faced with the decision of either having a standout medical facility here or not being able to get through traffic to work (or to the hospital) . How ridiculous is that?
On the brighter side, there were well -delivered presentations on Jackson South Hospital by Mr. Carlos Migoya, CEO of Jackson Health System , and Dennis Moss, County Commissioner representing most of our local neighborhood. The former reported on the remarkable recovery/progress, and the future, of the various components of the Jackson Health System, an enterprise that was almost in bankruptcy just a few years ago. Commissioner Moss provided a short history of health facilities in South Dade and explained his long-time, and we feel quite sincere, desire to have a first class medical center right nearby.
One thing also stood out: neither of these projects are breaking ground tomorrow at dawn. The hospital expansion is perhaps the furthest away from fruition. If they will just listen and act, this fact offers our County leadership a small margin of time that could be used to at least develop a plan for infrastructure redemption. And that plan must be serious and well thought out—not be based on simplistic ideas like building expensive bridges – bridges effectively to nowhere– over the C-100 Canal.
The subject building projects, for which we simply asked a moratorium—a delay in immediately going forward–both have great merit. We do not oppose the eventual development of a sophisticated local medical center here. That would be silly. What we oppose is putting the cart before the horse—having rapid development without supporting infrastructure. In short , to be blunt, the simple message we have been trying to convey to our leaders is – IT’S THE TRAFFIC, STUPID !
To be clear, what we lost, for the time being, on June 20 is serious consideration by our MDC commissioners of the proposition we stated on May 8, viz. “For now, we will continue to oppose any further building projects or re-zonings on SW 152 St. until such time as Miami-Dade County can guarantee us a traffic solution, fund it, and actually begin to make it happen. We would really like this to be put in the form of a referendum– maybe even county-wide – a complete moratorium on building projects until we catch up with some infrastructure.”
But, if our commissioners, for whatever motive, as they did June 20, continue to wave their arms and say .. “traffic here, on 152 Street, oh well, there are problems all over Miami with traffic” and just continue to plunge ahead with large new building projects, the result will sooner or later be tragic. When we finally suffer complete gridlock, we wonder if any of them will recall or care about what we said here today.
An important local election is coming up next summer, and we should be thinking about a major campaign to replace or reject leadership that continues to have a severe hearing problem. To have a real hope of doing that, all our various civic associations are going to have to band together, understand each other, and work seamlessly together.