Thoughts from the Latest Town Hall Meeting
Every few months Coral Gables city commissioners hold town hall meetings, to better inform the public and listen to suggestions. At the end of November, Commissioner Michael Mena and Vice Mayor Vince Lago joined forces, holding a packed town hall meeting at the Adult Activity Center on Andalusia. The audience of more than one hundred listened to various public officials, but what they most wanted to hear about was traffic and crime.
“People need to drive through your neighborhoods in a civil way,” Assistant Public Works Director Jessica Keller told the audience. To that end, Keller noted the newly implemented neighborhood speed limit of 25 mph. But she also pointed out that three quarters of Gables commuters drive to work alone in their car, and that alternatives are needed. She pointed out the city trolley, the FreeBee taxi service downtown (“sort of a free golf-cart Uber”) and the city’s experiment with public scooters. “More people are afraid of these than have tried them,” she said. The average scooter ride? One mile.
On the safety front, Police Chief Ed Hudak noted that crime – especially violent crime – continues to drop, partly due to the city’s high-tech approach, using cameras to capture license plates of cars entering and leaving the city. “We are a pass-through oasis, where 788,000 cars pass through daily,” said Hudak. Addressing criticisms of the camera network being installed citywide, Hudak noted that it’s entirely funded by the city’s forfeited assets account (“monies from ill-gotten gains”) and that regardless, “We still need the officers to respond.” The good news? Average emergency response time in the city has been shaved to a mere four minutes.