The City Hall News

At Its Two Meetings in January, the Coral Gables City Commission:

Listened to a presentation on the life of the recently deceased Sallye Jude, a well-known Coral Gables resident and philanthropist, and offered condolences to the bereaved family. One of Jude’s seven children, Peter, spoke for several minutes on his mother’s legacy after Mayor Vince Lago read a summary of her many achievements. For more information on Sallye Jude’s legacy.

Presented the friends of Gables high nonprofit, which provides support for Coral Gables High School, with a check for $2,737.66. The donation from the City of Coral Gables was collected during the Holiday Sip & Shop event last December, when 19 businesses on Miracle Mile stayed open late to serve wine and food and offer discounts to patrons.

Listened to an update on the installation of solar panels at Burger Bob’s. Both Mayor Lago and Vice Mayor Michael Mena expressed concerns over what they felt was a relatively low environmental impact (at most offsetting 35 percent of electrical consumption for a project costing between $35,000 and $100,000 depending on location). However, the main issue at hand was aesthetic, since the panels will be visible. Commissioner Rhonda Anderson suggested placing trees in the sightline of the property, far enough away to not shade the panels but close enough to shield the unsightly display of environmental patriotism. It was decided to place the panels at the “back” of the property and further research the effectiveness of different panels before applying for a $20,000 grant to offset costs. (Sponsored by Mayor Lago and Commissioner Anderson)

Voted 5-0 to amend the current resolution for the annexation of Little Gables to include the neighborhoods of High Pines and Ponce Davis. The current resolution is still being addressed by the county and Mayor Lago, who was appointed to be the representative for the project in meetings with the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners. “I put this on the agenda because we’ve all been getting a lot of phone calls from residents who feel like they’re being left behind,” Lago said. The resolution allows city staff to continue their due diligence on what a potential annexation would look like. (Sponsored by Mayor Lago)

The City Hall News - City Attorney Miriam Ramos
City Attorney Miriam Ramos

Voted 5-0 to approve the appointment of Deputy City Attorney Cristina Suarez to City Attorney after accepting the resignation of City Attorney Miriam Ramos. The Commission spent the better part of an hour honoring Ramos, lauding her performance in the position for more than five years. “She has served this city, always putting the city first,” said Mayor Lago. “She has never compromised the city or her own values… This city is that shining city on a hill because of people like you.” Vice Mayor Mena was so choked up he could not continue talking after complimenting Ramos not only as an attorney but as a parent. “I wish you would write a book on parenting because I think your kids are the best testimony to who you are,” he said. Ramos, herself also in tears, said, “This is way too much. I am humbled by this tribute.” She was presented with the key to the city and January 10, 2023 was declared Miriam Soler Ramos Day in Coral Gables. She will next take a job with prestigious Miami law firm Holland & Knight.

Voted 5-0 to expedite the renovation work at Burger Bob’s by waiving the competitive process so negotiations for a contract can begin swiftly. City Manager Peter Iglesias promised the Commission that the city will still “negotiate heavily,” while Commissioner Kirk Menendez told residents, “We heard you. That’s why we’re taking the step today… to expedite the process [and] shorten that timeline so that we can deliver what the community wants.” (Sponsored by Commissioner Menendez and Mayor Lago)

Voted 3-2 to approve a permanent public art installation of the sculpture “Whispering Through a Stone” by renowned international artist Janine Antoni. The sculpture is made from carved stone and is meant to facilitate private conversations in public. Commissioner Anderson and Vice Mayor Mena voted against because they wanted to see more options.

Voted 5-0 to approve additional penalties for those who use their bicycles on pedestrian sidewalks, including Miracle Mile and sections of Ponce de Leon Blvd. and Giralda Ave. Current fines are $35. The new penalties target repeat offenders with the first fine staying at $35 but the second going to $100, and the third to $200. Citizens objected because in some cases there are no bicycle lanes in adjacent streets. Commissioner Menendez suggested that bicyclists walk their bikes through crowded pedestrian areas.

Listened to an update on a test program for recycling plant waste. The program would reduce annual disposal costs by $200,000 a year; the city currently spends $1.2 million each year for the disposal of green matter. “Our yard waste is a commodity, and we are wasting it,” said Commissioner Anderson. (Sponsored by Mayor Lago)