Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Breaking news - Thalatta Estate to remain a park. The Thalatta plan voted down 5 – 0. Resident demands made and apparently accepted for enhanced regular hours of operation for residents. Thank you Council Members Lindsay; Tendrich and Fiore.

The Palmetto Bay Council voted 5 – 0 to kill the Thalatta Estate commercialization plan at the regular council meeting held Monday, April 2, 2012.  I want to thank my fellow residents who spoke to maintain (and actually enhance the hours) a public park – the original and sole purpose that we received the grant money to obtain Thalatta.  I also want to thank the council members who listened.  Councilman Howard Tendrich had always been steadfast for the residents in his resolve against over-commercialization of Thalatta. Councilman Patrick Fiore held many of the same views along with his opinion that government should not be venturing into business. Most council watchers felt this Thalatta plan would fail on a 3-2 vote, being defeated only due to the lack of the required 4 vote supermajority required to amend any parks master plan.

Thalatta was to be a crown jewel for Palmetto Bay, a park that I proudly proclaimed to put the “Bay” back in Palmetto Bay at the 2005 state of the village.  Miami-Dade is rich in coastline, but suffers from a lack of public access to the water.  Thalatta Estate was purchased in 2005 to provide this public access and through grants, the park was obtained at nearly no cost to village taxpayers through millions in grant monies covenanted for a public park.  We received over $3.6 million from the Florida Communities Trust alone.  I do not want to leave out the staff of the Trust for Public Lands (TPL) who provided the original bridge loan to the village to obtain Thalatta as well as provided the point efforts on the permanent grants.  The Palmetto Bay speakers provided a huge “thank you” to those aforementioned groups.

Dr. Feller and I made some serious commitments on behalf of the village to the state to get these grants.

Thank you fellow speakers, commenters on my Thalatta posts, those who may have e-mailed and or called.

I also want to personally thank Council Member Joan Lindsay, who spoke and withdrew her support for the Thalatta based upon her personal view of the parking situation at an actual event at Thalatta.  Her personal observations mirrored many of the comments and fears of serious parking and safety concerns that were anonymously posted on my blog (or e-mailed to me). Ms. Lindsay stayed consistent in protecting the quality of life for those along the Old Cutler road corridor. 

Now, based upon the speakers and comments from the dais, let’s work together to further enhance this beautiful jewel of a park and keep “the Bay in Palmetto Bay.”

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Florida Department of Environmental Protection were key in assisting with grants (information below taken verbatim from their official websites):

The Grants Section of the Office of Financial Management administers grants to local governments through the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP) and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). These are competitive, reimbursement grant programs which provide financial assistance for acquisition or development of land for public outdoor recreation. Eligible participants include all county governments, municipalities in Florida and other legally constituted local governmental entities, with the responsibility for providing outdoor recreational sites and facilities for the general public.

Florida Communities Trust assists communities in protecting important natural resources, providing recreational opportunities and preserving Florida's traditional working waterfronts through the competitive criteria in the Parks and Open Space Florida Forever Grant Program and the Stan Mayfield Working Waterfronts Florida Forever Grant Program. These local land acquisition grant programs provide funding to local governments and eligible non-profit organizations to acquire land for parks, open space, greenways and projects supporting Florida's seafood harvesting and aquaculture industries. The source of funding for Florida Communities Trust comes from Florida Forever proceeds.

The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) also provided $500,000 in assistance.  Credit for this money needs to go to our first Village Attorney, the late Earl Gallop, partner of our present village attorney Eve Boutsis.

The Trust for Public Land has created more parks in cities than any other national conservation organization. One of TPL's founding goals was to provide close-to-home nature, and in the forty years since, we have grown into the nation's premier organization creating parks and gardens, building playgrounds, and setting aside natural land for urban residents.

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