Sunday, March 1, 2020

This is no way to bridge a community. Both banks are a mess at Coral Reef Park as we near the annual community celebration.

Complaints have been made loud and often regarding the status of the canal banks and the pedestrian bridge that is supposed to be there in Coral Reef Park – but isn’t. I have been asked questions that I will answer, because it has become quite obvious that the current Palmetto Bay elected officials would rather avoid the tough questions, referring them to others.

Yes, this pedestrian bridge should be finished by now.  And, it does not appear that this new pedestrian bridge will be a focal point for the 18th Annual Picnic Celebration, scheduled for March 7, 2020, 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM at Coral Reef Park. Wait, I take that back. It will be a focal point; but not as intended. It won't be a positive ribbon cutting / grand opening photo op event that our resident photo op professional would like it to be.

It would have been appropriate to have this pedestrian bridge open in time for the Sunday, March 1st event: Samantha's Purpose Run, Walk & Stroll 2K for Cerebral Palsy. This is an outstanding event that started with my support as part of my third term as Mayor. It is an event that I am pleased to see our village continue to support. But, it would have been nice to have this new bridge to pass over for the event, rather than a construction zone to avoid passing through.

HISTORY OF THE BRIDGE: While I was Mayor, the Village of Palmetto Bay applied for and was awarded a $200,000 grant from the Recreational Trails Program administered by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. As a result, Resolution No. 2016-83 (CLICK HERE - 26 pages) was adopted on September 19, 2016, accepting the grant award. This grant did require an equal match by the Village, for the connection of 3 trails and the construction of a new pedestrian bridge.

On October 12, 2017, the Village of Palmetto Bay advertised Request for Proposal (RFP) No. 1617-12-010 seeking proposals from qualified firms for the design/build services for the new pedestrian bridge.

Anzac Contractors, Inc. was selected to provide the design/build services for the new pedestrian bridge [see Resolution 2017-115 - CLICK HERE But these projects, especially design/build projects, don't happen automatically. They take significant village oversight by the Parks Director, Building Officials and the Manager (or in this current situation, the Interim Village Manger). The construction started in early-December 2019.  
QUESTIONS FACING THIS CURRENT MAYOR AND COUNCIL: I cannot answer the following questions:
  • Why hasn’t the village provided updates as to the delay?  Maybe there is no delay. Maybe this project is on time in the minds of the current mayor and council members.
  • Why isn’t the job site secured? There are children at the park and a picnic upcoming. The photos show the environmental barriers down at critical points, at the waterline (see photo below).
  • Is Palmetto Bay in danger of losing the grant?
  • These projects usually have prefabricated bridges. Why isn’t it at the site? Is it built? Does it match the specifications called for in the RFP?
  • Where is the contract? Has the contractor been placed on notice?
  • Is there an issue with the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), internal permitting?               Or, ....
  • Is this current Mayor and Council simply losing sight of, or interest in, the project?
I can state that I don't think that this bridge will be completed and open for the 18th Annual Village Celebration Picnic scheduled for Coral Reef Park on Saturday. 

PERFORMANCE TO DATE ON THIS PROJECT: This project is currently making the Franjo Road street project look well organized and well-done.

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