The buzz around the village is whether the current Mayor and council overstepped their authority in reaching a formal agreement with Miami-Dade County, through the Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) without bringing the proposal back to the residents. It is a fair question as others have wondered whether this lawsuit is an abject 'abdication of responsibility' of the responsibility of their elected office as spelled out in the Village Charter for Mayor Cunningham and the entire Village Council to maintain civility, communication and advocate for Palmetto Bay with Miami-Dade County.
Is the lawsuit nothing but an attempt to weasel out of the commitment represented by Village elected leaders to support the traffic circle and force a four way stop as a permanent measure despite an agreed-to short term stopgap? This lawsuit may provide some insight.
Bridges for 77th and 87th Avenue and what of Old Cutler Road?
Is this council abdicating their responsibility for traffic calming and simply asking the court to step in and decide for them an issue of Village-wide concern, issues relating to the bridges for 77th and 87th Avenues and Old Cutler Road, as they would prefer to continue to hand out feel good proclamations over getting their hands dirty on issues of controversy? This lawsuit can be seen as a mechanism to avoid issues they signed up to decide.
Debunking some of the 'reasons alleged' for the lawsuit.
Also troubling is the apparent abandonment of discussion and rush to court. This suit is very limited, it seeks relief specific only to the intersection of SW 87th Avenue and SW 174th Street.
When has Miami-Dade County ever refused to sit and negotiate? I have always found the County, yes including the DTPW, to always be available to discuss. There has been significant collaboration in the past - and yes, there has been disagreement as well. But this is part of a relationship where disagreement occurs. That is the nature of overlapping governmental authority. It is quite disingenuous to alleged that a this lawsuit is needed to get the parties to sit and talk, especially at a mediation. Tell me this mayor and council really do not believe such foolish talk to be accurate.
This is far from a lawsuit against the County "to take control of our streets" as we have heard some yet to declare candidates promote. It is undeniable that the facts allege in the verified complaint relative to Malbrook would be the best opportunity to file such a suit, yet it is not filed and the rumor remains hanging out there as the next kool aid to be passed out in the 2020 Village elections. Watch out for it.
BEST CASE: The best result of this lawsuit is a court order making the 4 way stop permanent. Many Malbrook residents are not in favor of the 4 way stops remains. This opinion is not consistent within or outside of Malbrook. When then, can we expect a lawsuit to restore the 4 way stop signs on 82nd Avenue at 148th in Mangowood?
WORST CASE: We move forward to negotiation with Miami-Dade County through lawsuit after lawsuit with the results determined by the court
Either way, it is clear that our local elected council members, the Mayor and Council Members have exhausted their advocacy talents and have turned instead to diplomacy through litigation.
WHAT WAS AGREED TO?
Good question. And it deserves a straight and unequivocal answer.
Mayor Cunningham distributed the following update in an e-blast:
On Monday, Commissioner Cava's staff and Village staff, including myself, met with representatives from Miami-Dade County Transportation and Public Works Department and Marlin Engineering, the Village's traffic engineering firm, to discuss the traffic solutions that have been proposed for the Malbrook neighborhood area. Previously, County staff had requested a traffic study to substantiate the request made by the Village for traffic mitigation. The results were discussed and subsequently the plans have been approved by the county. As was previously discussed, the solutions proposed to reduce cut-through traffic for Malbrook include:THE ACTUAL WORDS USED ARE IMPORTANT. Words have meaning, especially in context: This appears to be what is termed "a done deal" as the language used by the Mayor is "...Next step (sic) are Council approval, funding, plans and implementation." (Emphasis in bold is added). I places those words in bold to show that no where does it indicate that this proposal was to come back for negotiation. To the contrary, its council approval (not "discussion") plans AND (not possible) implementation."
- a dedicated right tun lane from SW 87th Avenue onto SW 168th Street
- permanent installation of "no-right turn" signs along SW 87th Avenue for eastbound traffic
I have requested that the plans be shared with the community. Next step are Council approval, funding, plans and implementation. You can click here to read the approval letter.
- a traffic circle for the intersection of SW 174th Street and SW 87th Avenue
Is it the Mayor and Village Council that have broken the agreement with the County and not the other way around?
There is much to consider here. Now we, the Village Taxpayers, sit and wait for important operational decisions to be made by the court - or for the court to reject this suit and push the responsibility back where it belongs - on the Palmetto Bay Village Council.
Finally, a post script (I will let the Village's own words speak for itself): As promoted by the official Palmetto Bay social media on September 17, 2019, posted on its official Facebook page:
MALBROOK UPDATE: Thanks to the stewardship of our Mayor & Council and our County Commissioner who continue to advocate for our residents, Malbrook residents will soon get some relief to their traffic situation. Mayor Cunningham and Village staff, along with Sean McCrackine and Maria Levrant from County Commissioner Levine Cava’s office met with representatives from Miami-Dade County Transportation and Public Works Department and Marlin Engineering, the Village’s traffic engineering firm, to discuss the traffic solutions proposed for the Malbrook neighborhood area. ...(go to the official page, 9/17/19 to view for yourself)