Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Sat 10-16-21 Update on 136th Street Shared Path - take the virtual ride via 3 videos that demonstrate the status of this project

Video I (3 minutes, 54 seconds)- starting he journey from the furthest point currently paved west end - moving east 

 

 Video II (3 minutes, 3 seconds)- Moving eastward from 77th Avenue:


Can one ride a bicycle on the existing standard sidewalk, aka, was it really necessary to spend $1.8 million to widen the existing sidewalk from the standard 5 feet to 5, 6, 8 or 10 feet in odd areas? Let's find out in video III.

Video III - (52 seconds) riding the existing standard size sidewalk that remains (for now) eastward to the end at Old Cutler Road:


PRIOR RELATED POSTS on Shared Path Comparison - the Red Road Linear Path in Pinecrest as well as the Cutler Bay Shared Path. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

RIP Sad to learn of the passing of Lloyd Hough, a true pioneer of Palmetto Bay, devoted family man and public servant.

I offer my heartfelt condolences to the friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances of Lloyd Hough. I was saddened to learn of his passing. Lloyd was a part of Palmetto Bay history. It was my honor to see him appointed to a committee and work with him as part of the start up of Palmetto Bay.

Lloyd served on one of Palmetto Bay’s first official committees – the Public Service Advisory Committee; created to address all aspects of police and fire services as well as to give immediate priority to the development of service levels for police services. See Palmetto Bay Resolution 02-19, approved November 25, 2002 - our very first year of incorporation (our first month of meetings as a Village Council)

Photo credit: Miami Herald
My sincere condolences to his family, especially to his wife Nikki. Thank you for his valued service to Palmetto Bay.

 The Miami Herald posted an article detailing some of Lloyd’s accomplishments. Subscribers can click the headline to read the full article: Retired detective who investigated River Cops and Cocaine Cowboy murders dies at 85, by Charles Rabin, 10-18-21. 

It was reported that his public service included 13 years as a homicide detective in Miami-Dade, investigating some of the county’s most high-profile murders. Among them, homicides connected to notorious Ricky Cravero and his gang, believed to be responsible for as many as 40 executions.

He also worked the infamous Miami River Cops case among his numerous high profile cases.

May his memory be a blessing. I will always remember Lloyd as a pioneer of early Palmetto Bay.  Thank you Lloyd for your invaluable service to our community.

Monday, October 18, 2021

UPDATE: Series on Multi Paths - looking at the Red Road Linear Park Path. How it compares to the Palmetto Bay designed 136th Street project.

This video is part of a series examining multi use paths in our area. I plan in comparing the Old Cutler Trail, the Cutler Bay Shared use path, the Pinecrest Red Road Lineal Park Path. All compared with the current Palmetto Bay designed Shared Path now under construction on SW 136th Street. 

Many of you may be familiar with this Red Road Linear Park Path. It was originally created under Miami-Dade County and later nurtured and maintained by the Village of Pinecrest. Compare it with the JPA shared path that Palmetto Bay designed for SW 136th Street.

The Red Road Linear Park Path is a 2.5 mile lighted walking/bicycle path along the Snapper Creek Canal on Red Road. There are three rest areas accented with coral rock walls and enhanced landscaping along historic Red Road, located along the East-side of Red Road between Kendall Drive and Killian Drive in Pinecrest, Florida.

Now this is a shaded, park type amenity that provides safe mobility!

Here is a Yelp Review of this path/park:

Yes, per the Village of Pinecrest, this does qualify as parkland. It's a little strip of land bordered by Red Road on one side and the Snapper Creek Canal on the other. There is a meandering paved path, one upon which my running feet pound quite often. It's a running/walking/biking/blading path, and a good one.

The park is listed as 2.5 miles long. I'm surprised at that, because my internal odometer says it feels a little less. Maybe that's because unlike many other South Florida "parks," it actually has a bit of a tree canopy, helping somewhat to ease the pain the sun brings. In fact, there's a wide variety of native plant life on display along this path, from gumbo limbo to cypress to pond apple. This helps make the path as scenic as a path that close to a busy road can be.

This stretch of Snapper Creek looks like an enticing place to cast a fishing line, but in all honesty, the fishing here sucks. This stretch of the canal is just a deep featureless ditch, with little or no aquatic plant life or other structure providing cover for fish.

Insider tip....only run here when the wind is out of the east, the path is on the east side of Red Road. Run here during periods of westerly breeze, and you open yourself up to breathing truck exhaust.

Important note - this is one multi use path where there are no potential conflicts with motor vehicles - not one. At no point do vehicles cross the path at any point along any of this 2.5 mile path.

Take note of the following for this Red Road Linear Park Path:

  • The appearance of park amenity including numerous park type benches. The uniformity of the path.
  • The quality of the construction.
  • There are no areas of conflict with cars anywhere along the entirety of the 2.5 miles of this path. It is a path uninterrupted by any conflict from motor vehicles crossing the path. 
  • At no time does this path narrow from its uniform width, nor does it take any sharp turns or curves (once it begins – the southern terminus connects to the cross walk that leads to Pinecrest Gardens – and other path. 

Contrast this with the Palmetto Bay designed shared path. Note that there will be as many as 70 separate areas of conflict with roadways and the numerous driveways that will cross the Palmetto Bay designed shared path along SW 136th Street. And note, I have previously identified that safety is compromised at each point where motorized vehicles cross shared paths. 

See PRIOR RELATED POST of September 29, 2021, Series on Multi Paths - looking at Cutler Bay's shared path project. How it compares to the Palmetto Bay designed 136th Street project.

Friday, October 15, 2021

RIP Guido Inguanzo, Palmetto Bay’s first Village Clerk

My heartfelt condolences to the friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances of Guido Inguanzo . I was saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Guido Inguanzo who was a part of Palmetto Bay history.  Guido Inguanzo served as Palmetto Bay’s first Village Clerk (acting Village Clerk), on loan from Pinecrest to assist with the start up. He served with honor until our first Village Clerk was appointed, even serving on the search committee.

My sincere condolences to his family, including his wife Monica and son.

May his memory be a blessing.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Small bite update: Why are cyclists still riding on the road, not the path along SW 136 Street

I received the following text from a teacher at Howard Drive Elementary yesterday (October 12, 2021):

“Two days in a row I have seen people biking on the road instead of the new path.”

I answered that cyclists will remain using the road as they do on Old Cutler Road and Red Road. A shared path is not a bike lane. In Florida the bicycle is defined as a vehicle and the bicyclist is a driver. Bicyclists have the same rights to the road ways. HOWEVER, bicyclists must use a bike lane where provided (subject to certain exceptions).

Her response was in the form of an emoji. It was very telling as well as amusing (emojis can be so revealing - and saved so many words):


See: July 8, 2021, Cycling/Rules of the Road update: Changes in Florida Law that impact Motor Vehicles / Bicyclists effective July 1, 2021. This article is an update of a Rules of the Road post of November 28, 2018.

The bottom line is that there will be little change for the cyclists. It is the motorist who lost out when the bike lane plan was changed to the shared path. Get used to SW 136 Street working as depicted in the photo.  And please don't yell at the cyclist for remaining on the road and not using the path as they are doing what was intended, recommended actually by at least one of mayor Cunningham's advisers to the 136 Street shared path project. 

Also see PRIOR RELEVANT POSTS:

June 22, 2021, Palmetto Bay can change the project, but municipal officials cannot change State Law which determines where bicyclists may ride.

October 2, 2021, Special post - Photo(s) of the day. Reader submitted photos of the Palmetto Bay designed shared path. Or is it a car park? 

June 24, 2020, Yet another car v bike conflict along the Old Cutler Trail – a multi-use path, not a dedicated bike lane.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Opinion: "Nevertheless, she persisted". Did this lead to a “Code Red” being called on Marsha? Cringe-worthy is the only way to describe the beat down administered on Dr. Matson at the October regular council meeting. Was this all because Dr. Matson wanted to restore just a scintilla of transparency into Palmetto Bay government?

She was warned. "Nevertheless, she persisted" and now we have to wonder who called the ‘Code Red’ on Council Woman Marsha Matson? Dr. Matson believes that we, the people, can handle the truth and wants affected residents to be included in the process, rather than merely voicing ok or objections after the proposed Interlocal agreement is a 'done deal'.

Dr. Matson should have seen it coming. After all, she revealed that the Manager advised her that her fellow council members were angry with her (CLICK HERE to read her e-mail or CLICK HERE to read the transcript of her appearance with Michael Miller of the Community Newspapers ).  Was it speculation or fear? Regardless that anger played out in the late hours of the October village council meeting when she was at the receiving end of what appeared to many to be a “Code Red” – a beat down for daring to break an unwritten chain of command in requesting a legitimate and interactive town hall meeting. (There is no such chain of command, by the way. Members of the Village Council always had access to the public through scheduled Town Hall meetings - that it until now, or so it seems)

What’s a Code Red? When many people hear the term "code red," they immediately think of the popular movie A Few Good Men.

As portrayed in that movie, a "Code Red" refers to a form of extrajudicial punishment — a type of punishment that’s carried out without a court’s oversight or any form of legal approval. The code red was a major plot point of the 1992 film A Few Good Men, where a character dies after receiving a code red. In the movie, the motive for the “Code Red” was retaliation for the young Marine violating an order of silence of the commanding officer. Hmmm, that sounds familiar as some suspect that motive for the October council meeting beat down was anger by 3 of the 4 other council members over Dr. Matson violating an unwritten rule of silence as to the bridge negotiation. How you might ask? By daring to ask for a public noticed, publicly held meeting where the veil of silence would be lifted on the 87 avenue bridge fiasco and, (horrors!) the affected residents would actually have input on what happens to street within Palmetto Bay before it is voted on. Dr. Matson's plans were not for mere comments, but an actual live forum with give and take interaction. You know, how town hall meetings were held prior to this current mayor and council.

But Noooooooo. The decorum really went out the window that night as council members took their turns voicing their displeasure at Dr. Matson. This should not have occurred. Read the decorum rules.

The decorum rules are simple. Really, a dignified council should be able to adhere to Village Code 2-45 concerning Decorum: 

All speakers must address their remarks to the mayor, speak in a dignified and courteous manner, and avoid admonishing individual members of the public, council and representatives of the village.

(bold emphasis added)

Fellow residents reached out to me who were embarrassed by how Council Woman Matson was treated. One specifically asked me "What do you think about Marsha’s treatment at the council meeting Monday night?  Council comments especially

What do I think? In my opinion, it was shameful, unbecoming and textbook examples of blatant violations of the decorum ordinance. As Mayor, I championed both the original decorum ordinance as well as an update that was attached to each and every agenda. Currently published with each agenda is the following statement that all members of the village council agree to abide to:

WE, THE VILLAGE COUNCIL OF THE VILLAGE OF PALMETTO BAY, HEREBY COMMIT OURSELVES TO MAINTAINING CIVILITY IN OUR PUBLIC AND POLITICAL DISCOURSE AND PLEDGE TO THE FOLLOWING PRINCIPLES:

• We will respect the right of all citizens in our community to hold different opinions;

• We will avoid rhetoric intended to humiliate or question the wisdom of those whose opinions are different from ours;

We will strive to understand differing perspectives;

• We will choose our words carefully;

• We will speak truthfully without accusation and we will avoid distortion;

• We will speak out against violence, prejudice, and incivility in all of their forms, whenever and wherever they occur.

(bold emphasis added)

These words have become meaningless under the current mayor and village council who engage in what can only be termed as shameful behavior directly and through proxies. Examples exceed the apparent code red beat down of their own, Dr. Matson, at the regular council meeting. Examples include juvenile attempts to give cute little code or nicknames to those who disagree with them, even publishing a strangely irrelevant video actually played as part of an official council meeting.  This really is one of those ‘you can’t make this stuff up’ moments. Members of this council, under this current mayor, often act as wannabe elementary school yard bullies. This is all yet another in a long series of events where they say one thing that sounds great, but act otherwise in defiance – an ultimate act of passive aggressiveness.

Private meetings held, not open to the average resident. Interesting note: Another thing I learned from watching the video is that the current mayor has been talking to a select few (one family was identified), who also were her main campaign supporters. This begs the question, why not include everyone? This is one goal achieved through Dr. Matson's request for a town hall, everyone has an equal chance to be heard rather than those village insiders who have special relationships and special access to the mayor.  Can we have a list of those meetings as well as the substance of what was discussed or agreed to?  I'm betting that this disclosure wont happen)

Though I have a long history of disagreements with Dr. Matson; I do also share items of agreement with her. Keep persisting Dr. Matson. It will take a change in mayor and at least 2 members of this village council, but the fight to restore transparency will eventually succeed.

My personal message to Dr. Marsha Matson, Council Member, District 3: Transparency and good governance in Palmetto Bay is a worthy fight. Don’t fear their angry words, proxy email attacks, or their juvenile attack videos or characters.

I also want to thank Patrick Fiore, Council Member, District One, who was the lone ally for transparency, who stood with Dr. Matson that night. He too believes that this is an issue of great public importance where residents should be a part of, not excluded from the substantive discussions of this process. 

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Tuesday, Oct. 12 - Miami-Dade TPO Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) MEMBER DISCUSSION – PALMETTO BAY GOLF CARTS use of Old Cutler Trail / Shared Paths

Should golf carts be added to shared paths in Palmetto Bay? This issue continues behind the scenes and will come up for a public discussion far from Palmetto Bay's borders, at a live meeting held in downtown Miami. This time, the meeting discussion will be  amongst the Miami-Dade TPO Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC). 

You can download the complete workshop agenda package at the TPO website and/or by clicking here on BPAC.  


Why this discussion? 

Mayor Cunningham and Council passed a Village of Palmetto Bay resolution to study the feasibility of allowing motorized golf carts to use the county's Old Cutler Trail, a shared use path. (Note - this resolution is NOT posted on the village website for viewing). After review, the Miami-Dade County Transportation & Public Works Department (DTPW) issued this response:
"The path is not designed or warranted for the use of golf carts. After reviewing the request DTPW does not recommend the use of golf carts along the OCR (Old Cutler Road) shared use path."

The DTPW specifically cited Florida Department of Transportation standards saying:
"...the conflicts between the golf carts and the shared use path users (pedestrian and bikers) would create significant safety and operational problems..."
No new action has been taken publicly nor have any additional resolutions been passed at any meetings, yet Palmetto Bay has sought additional hearing on this matter, hence this meeting scheduled for Tuesday, October 12, 2021. 
All sides of this issue may want to be present at this meeting.  
What is the position of the current Palmetto Bay and Council? Palmetto Bay officials have not openly discussed this upcoming meeting or posted any advisement of it to the public. I am unaware as to any policy set by the council setting forth the official position of Palmetto Bay officials. This appears to be yet another example of allowing things to happen instead of proactively advocating for a desired result. Weak leadership allows for others to make decisions affecting our municipality - a desired result for those who refuse to take positions.  
Just what do Mayor Cunningham and Council mean when they asked for a "study" as to "the feasibility of allowing motorized golf carts to use the county's Old Cutler Trail"? This just sounds like a feeble attempt to walk a political tightrope to hide their actual position, reserving the right to claim victory regardless how this issue plays out. This is yet another textbook example of allowing things to fester instead of actually making a decision this mayor and council may fear is unpopular, allowing them to play both sides - for the winners: taking the credit while consoling the losers by blaming the county (sound familiar? Recent examples include the 87th Ave bridge, 136th Shared Path).
Meeting info:

Miami-Dade TPO Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC)

In-Person Meeting*

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Starts at 5:30pm

 

Miami-Dade TPO Governing Board Chambers

150 West Flagler Street, Suite 1924

Miami, FL 33130 

 

*Pursuant to CDC guidelines, all persons entering the building are required to wear facial masks at all times. Social distancing measures will also be enforced. 


This is listed as a "BPAC MEMBER DISCUSSION relating to PALMETTO BAY GOLF CARTS" - (NOTE: this topic is on the agenda "for Discussion Only; This is Not an Action Item")

Friday, October 8, 2021

Time is short for taking the survey. Do you prefer bike lanes, shared paths or nothing at all? It is critical to make your voice heard.

Do you want more shared paths in Palmetto Bay? After all, 136th Street is going so well (NOT!). Doing nothing at all is a choice. CLICK HERE to read prior posts related to this SW 136 Street MEGA sidewalk / shared path.

Take the survey. The DEADLINE is 5:00 PM, October 15. Please take this survey and support true bike infrastructure: bike lanes, not shared paths. The study is considering multi-use pathways, sidewalks and/or protected or buffered bicycle lanes. Two alternatives will be evaluated for the above-mentioned roadways. The final plan will include 15% design plans for up to two corridors connecting Old Cutler Trail and the South Dade Trail. The project is anticipated to be completed by November 2021.

Participation has been pitiful, which makes it even more important that you get involved. The facilitators (and the Village) claim they first want to hear from our residents to appropriately assess how, when and in what form our residents use or would best use the bicycle and pedestrian network. The survey will be used to assess the types of improvements and which two roadways the study will focus on.
Please participate. You only need to look to what is happening on SW 136th Street to see the importance of participation. Here is the link to the survey page:


Thank you.

A necessary read - MOBILITY HUBS & TRANSIT INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN, January 2020, prepared by Marlin Engineering for the Village of Palmetto Bay.

The effort appears stacked toward this feasibility study being more of promoting acceptance of recommendations for the shared paths having been made in 2020. Look at the 2020 mobilities recommendation in the doc I have provided a link to. The 2020 plan recommends shared paths for 152 and 184. Thankfully it still seems to recommend bike lanes for 168. Note that this 2020 plan was prepared by Marlin Engineering.

The village has now moved on to a feasibility study. Remember that they were looking at 144, 152, 168 & 184. The facilitators stated recently that they will be recommending shared paths for 152 & 184. Well guess who is facilitating the study: Consultant Project Manager (Marlin Engineering) Christina Fermin, AICP, LEED Green Associate 3363 W. Commercial Blvd, Suite 115A Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309 954-870-5064 CFermin@Marlinengineering.com

CLICK HERE to view a link to recent actions / documents by the current mayor and council relative to a shared path for SW 184th Street.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

I am very disappointed. No meaningful public input for Palmetto Bay in regards to the ongoing 87th Av bridge fiasco. I believe our residents have something to offer.

Denial of public input speaks to the state of Palmetto Bay’s lack of transparency. When a fight isn’t a fight and when elected officials are so arrogant that they think the public has nothing to offer. 

My opinion? Obviously they just want to bury it and move on to their (meaning our) next fiasco.

All they want to do is package the same offers made by the County back when the bridge was fought off in 2017 and claim victory. It was their missteps and combative attitude toward the County, failure to follow through on the agreements on traffic modifications that led to this bridge being revived and rolled over upon this council. But wait, the County offered back then to fund everything 100%. However, Palmetto Bay officials, high off their first-ever global tax increase, now have even more of our money to burn and are actually offering to have Palmetto Bay contribute to costs on this County project. 

This seems like mitigation and I remember being successful in ending mitigation. 

FAIR QUESTIONS: 

Why is the public being denied an opportunity to present their case? Commenting at a manager held meeting with the county amounts to little more than cheering or jeering from the sidelines. Comments do not equate to an open two-way dialogue. 

It is amazing that two of the three members of this council earned law degrees yet fail to see the value of meeting with their clients (in this case the impacted residents, on all sides of the issue) before they try to negotiate. The public certainly would have done a better job on recent fiascos borne of this mayor and council including (but certainly not limited to):

  • The mega sidewalk on SW 136 Street that no one asked for
  • The never ending Franjo road project
  • The Palmetto Park Road project, started under this mayor then abruptly halted far from completion
  • The Coral Reef Park Bridge resulting in loss of tree canopy
  • The barely there parking lot lighting at the Coral Reef Park Tennis Center

… need I go on?

Public input would be valuable and would assist in working with the County, but perhaps this is what the current mayor and council fear.

This mayor and council would rather have a poor product than actually involve the project and have to share credit.

That’s a shame and this ill-advised lack of public input will lead to the 87 Avenue bridge being worse that it could have been for all concerned.

Monday, October 4, 2021

OPINION: It is time for this mayor and council to come clean and hold a proper town hall update. Residents' voices should matter. Come out of the shadows on the bridge.

Residents' voices should matter, but it is merely a catch phrase here in Palmetto Bay. 

Why does this matter continue to move forward without any serious resident input? Why don't their voices matter? is raised this issue on May 18, 2021, Any updates on the 87th Avenue Bridge "fight"? Why are village officials not holding any public stakeholder town halls? Palmetto Bay officials have NOT responded positively since that post and instead have only 'doubled down' to squelch any input from those who will be most affected.

Why has transparency and public input become so toxic for the current set of Palmetto Bay elected officials and staff? Do current village leaders really that arrogant that they have all the answers? Believe me, they don't and that was demonstrated for everyone to see at the special council meeting of September 23, 2021.

The best decisions are those that are made with public input, in the public, not those made on behalf of others.

Why do Palmetto Bay officials opposing a public meeting to hear resident's concerns?

Palmetto Bay Council Member Dr. Marsha Matson, Council Member, District 3, apparently made the mistake of trying to look out for resident input and tried to set up a town hall meeting (Note that previous councils were pro-resident input, but not this current group - save one).  She is facing an internal firestorm that she has termed bullying. 

I am shocked and dismayed at the level of bickering and lack of civility that is ongoing within the current Palmetto Bay administration – I have reviewed the email of Dr. Marsha Matson, Council Member, District 3. I simply cannot understand why she has been cornered into this situation.

A VERY IMPORTANT READ: October 1, 2021, Dr. Marsha Matson, Village Council, District 3, reveals how low Palmetto Bay Officials have sunk in denying transparency and access to government. All detailed in a shocking email of 9-30-2021 to the village manager.  

OTHER IMPORTANT READS - PRIOR PAST POSTS ON THIS ISSUE:

September 22, 2021, 87 Avenue Bridge Update. Here is the complete document - the proposed Interlocal Agreement between Palmetto Bay and Miami-Dade County. What does the agreement really provide?

September 20, 2021, Special council meeting set for Thursday, 9/23/2021 - relating to an agreement on the bridge. Does anyone have the specifics?