Palmetto Bay is sprucing up for a little short notice visit from the Florida Communities Trust (FCT). The timing is interesting, but I am sure it is coincidental. Palmetto Bay was notified via e-mail of March 26, 2012, that the Florida Communities trust is implementing a stewardship site assessment program.
The stated purpose of this visit is that the state will be assessing the progress made in the implementation of the management plan and the development of the (Thalatta) site. I have posted the complete notification e-mail as embedded JPEGs.
Here is a list of the issues and facilities that the State (FCT) “…will be paying close attention to during this site visit:”
1. Whether the required FCT acknowledgement sign has been installed;
2. Quality of the management of the natural communities – specifically the status of invasive exotic plant removal;
3. The status of the infrastructure development – are at least some of the recreational facilities constructed – such as trails, benches and picnic shelters (depending on what was committed in the management plan); and
4. An update on the time line for construction of the remaining structures and facilities.
This site visit will take place between April 10 – 12, which is just a few days away.
It is interesting that neither mayor or vice mayor disclosed this upcoming site visit to the public at the Monday council meeting. The timing is most interesting as, just as reported in the Miami Herald, Palmetto Bay scraps plans for proposed buildingon Thalatta Estate (Published online 4/3/2012, and Thursday, 4/5/2012, Neighbor’s Edition).
The Herald Article by Howard Cohen discussed how the future face of Thalatta spawned much debate during Monday night’s council meeting. Now the FCT, a $3.6 + million donor, is going to weigh in for a little check up. As reported, Thalatta is supposed to be used primarily as a public park but its hours of operation — 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Tuesday; 3 p.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday and closed on Friday and Saturday and during private events — incensed some residents, including council member Howard Tendrich.
“A park is supposed to be open to the public and this is not open enough to the public,” he said. “A park should be open Monday to Friday, 10 to 6. This needs to have standard hours.”
Numerous other speakers also complained about the non-standard hours, some opining that “This facility is called a park, a park where you can not sit in a shady place to have a nice picnic or family hour. I agree with Mr. Tendrich. This is not a park. Call it something else. Do you want this to be a park or do you want it to be a money maker for the village?”
Now the FCT is involved and let’s hope that the Thalatta site visit passes FCT review. Thalatta is 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 was purchased in 2005 to provide this public access and 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 FCT alone. I do not want to leave out the staff of the Trust for Public Lands (TPL) who provided the original bridge loan to obtain Thalatta as well as efforts on the permanent grants.
I sincerely hope that the FCT finds a clean bill of health and moves along, not questioning whether the ill-fated and abruptly abandoned plans announced by Mayor, but abandoned last Monday evening do not create any cause for alarm with the FCT. I do want the FCT to note that the Palmetto Bay speakers provided a huge “thank you” to those aforementioned groups who granted us this park and are serious about making sure that this present council keeps the promised made on their behalf by the original council in 2005. (Click the Lable “Thalatta Estate” below to read additional articles I have posted on this blog regarding the Thalatta issue).