City Manager And Staff Drag Feet On Burger Bob’s And Dog Park: Signs Of Financial Troubles

Ariel Fernandez

Founder & Editor
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The Coral Gables City Commission held its regular meeting on April 12th and discussed some controversial items where the City Manager, Peter Iglesias, showed his political agenda to try to block the interests of residents and the Commission.

Burger Bob’s

The future of Burger Bob’s has been a hot item of discussion for several months. From inappropriate back-room deal negotiated by the Manager and his team of a contract that cost the City thousands in legal counsel to the letter sent by the Manager on behalf of the City asking Bob to leave requiring Commission intervention, maintaining the historic diner has been a request from the community.

The City Commission had asked staff to present a budget for a simple renovation to the locale, with a simple yet appealing look that would allow for patrons to continue to enjoy the site.

Staff returned this meeting with the City Manager’s proposed budget, a shocking $900,000 and a timeline that would not have the locale open again in 2022.

The Mayor and Commission were shocked at the number. The Mayor, who himself is in the construction industry, stated that the numbers were nowhere near in the ballpark. In fact, he asked and secured the Commission’s blessing to work on pricing the project out himself to present the Commission with a realistic number.

Manager Iglesias tried to block the Mayor’s request, stating that he would work on the numbers, but sources at City Hall inform Gables Insider that Iglesias was personally involved in the process of securing the $900,000 price tag to the Commission.

The Commission also instructed the Manager to communicate with Rita Tennyson and gauge her interest in managing the restaurant.

Dog Park

This was not the only astronomical price presented by the Manager and staff to the Commission.

Since her election to the Commission, Commissioner Rhonda Anderson has been working to create Coral Gables’ first dog park. An issue that has been long discussed and never created, Anderson presented a location at Salvadore Park where a dog park can be created without much fanfare and at a relatively low cost.

Enter Iglesias and his team. The price tag for a park that would require a simple fence was presented as $275,000. Another shocking number for the Commission which seemed to be getting irritated.

The reason they gave was the need to move drains and create extensive sidewalk designs.

The Mayor and Commissioner Anderson echoed each other’s sentiments that the request was for a simple park and that all the elaborate hurdles being placed need to be simplified. As the Mayor stated, drains do not need to be moved, rather new drain covers should be found. Staff was also very forceful towards the Commission stating that aluminum fencing, which is currently at an all-time high, was required instead of a chain-link fence.

The City Manager also made it a point to say that there was no place to get the money for this project. Yet, Finance Director Diana Gomez stated, during an item related to the need for an additional $640,000 for the Mobility Hub, that the City has a contingency fund with money for items such as this.

The Commission sent them back with instructions to return with a simple plan that does not break the bank.

Reasoning

So why place astronomical price tags on these projects? Financial troubles.

Gables Insider has been looking into the City’s finances and found that money appropriated by the Commission for specific projects is being used to cover cost overruns or mismanagement of funds by Iglesias.

One of Iglesias’ projects was the Police and Fire Headquarters. That project went over budget by several million dollars and Iglesias raided other funds to cover the difference. These overruns have forced the City to take measures to replenish the accounts with such moves as selling the Greco lot to former Vice Mayor Frank Quesada and his business partner in another back-room deal arranged by Iglesias.

Sources tell Gables Insider, the movement of funds is common place and the Commission is kept in the dark.

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15 thoughts on “City Manager And Staff Drag Feet On Burger Bob’s And Dog Park: Signs Of Financial Troubles

  1. Out of control City Manager and staff. Why are they still employed? Residents are getting ripped off.

  2. As a longtime owner of large dogs, I do not recommend putting a dog park at Salvadore Park if it would be in close proximity to the children’s play area. Dog waste, even nrine, has health ramifications for humans. Also, young children may approach dogs that are en route to the dog park and get bitten. If Salvadore Park is the only available site, the dog park should be well separated from the children’s area. As a former competitive tennis player who played junior tournaments at Salvadore Park, I wonder whether the city has considered the impact a dog park would have on the Junior Orange Bowl. That event attracts participants and families from throughout the world and supports Coral Gables’ economy. Spectators often view matches from the grassy area south of the courts. If that area is converted to a dog park, players’ families and coaches will be very disappointed not to be able to watch matches up close. It will also result in crowding in the small spectator areas sandwiched between the tennis courts. A city of Coral Gables’ size should be able to come up with an alternative dog park site.

  3. Has anybody noticed that the vest pocket park across from the Venetian Pool is taking months to finish. What is is it? An ode to Frederic Olmsted the landscape architect of Central Park? Who is paying for this? We the tax payers? I hope not! All I see is more time and money wasted, and the way cars speed up and down DeSoto I would be scared to sit in any of the planned benches. And what about all that wasteful modern art around the City not to mention that chalkboard in front of City Hall, Audrey the man eating plant at the Segovia Circle and those silly signs on lampposts along the costly “remodeled” Miracle with its dirty white-grey tiles. The only nice additions I’ve seen are the painted lampposts. Please stop wasting money on stuff like this or a grandiose mobility hub. Yes some of us have read about the challenges of expecting this to solve the problem of transportation in major European cities who have better mass transit than we do. Stop counting on “schemes” to re-invent Coral Gables into what it will never be nor needs to be.

  4. Scrap the mobility hub if there is no money for the dog park! Shame on you, Coral Gables. One of the most dog unfriendly cities in the US. So disappointed in the City. Have lived in Coral Gables for 55 years and have seen the downward spiral of Coral Gables, and now the current City Manager and City Attorney seem to have only two concerns, their continued employment and financial prosperity at the expense of the citizens of Coral Gables.

  5. If they really wanted to, they could put another vendor in Bob’s site for less than $100,000. It was operating as a restaurant just two months ago, for Pete’s sake (pun intended). The problem with staff is they always go the most expensive way, knowing that residents will take it and commissioners will support – Especially L’Ego who’s never seen a project he couldn’t pad with luxury items. Time for the city to lower our taxes and stop treating us like a piggy bank

  6. If the commissioners do not fire Peter Iglesias and Miriam Ramos by next Friday, April 22, 2022, a petition to recall the commissioners must be started.

  7. While I acknowledge that the price of construction materials and labor costs are at an all-time high, the $900,000 estimate to remodel the Burger Bob’s site is ludicrous! We are talking about a small simple diner-style restaurant with one handicapped-accessible powder room, a compact commercial kitchen and a slightly expanded dining area!

    Granted – updating the plumbing and electric, installing a new grease trap, purchasing some new kitchen equipment and furniture will all cost money but to spend close to a million dollars is ridiculous!

    Last summer when it became known that the City was entertaining other options for the Granada Snack Shop space, the outpouring of love and concern from loyal patrons for Bob Maguire and Rita Tennyson was heartwarming! Offers of support in the form of free legal advice, architectural help and monetary pledges came poring in!

    All that the City has to do is refer to the RFP that was submitted by Rita Tennyson on August 23, 2021 to find architectural renderings that were drawn by a renowned Gables’ architect for FREE! Hiring a consultant for $114,000 to design the interior of this 2200 square foot space is – to quote the mayor – “an exorbitant amount of money!”

    My hat is off to Mayor Lago for wanting to buy American and to purchase locally-sourced materials to also help keep the building costs down on this beloved space!

  8. What is the one constant in all of this? The only favor that hasn’t changed since, Salerno, Swanson Rivenbark, and now Iglesias? The Finance Dept. The people the control the money and feed half truths at best to the Commissioners. The change needs to come from the budget office. Do some history on the Finance Director and where they came from.

  9. SOLUTIONS: GET RID OF THE
    COMMISSIONERS, MAYOR AND THE CITY MANAGER. LET US MOVE THEM OUT IN THE NEXT ELECTION OR RECALL ALL OF THEM WITH A SIGNED PETITION.

  10. Reminds me of the days of Pat Salerno. Why can’t we get competent City Managers and Attorney. No wonder Mr. Leen left for higher pastures.

  11. Mr Iglesias is corrupt, incompetent and a very bad actor. His shady deals are at the city’s expense.
    Time to go Pete your pension should be revoked…Your as crooked as crooked is. Bye bye .

  12. Dear Commissioners & Mr. Mayor:

    Please send Mr. Iglesias packing.

    Sincerely,

    Hercules Mulligan

    P.S. While you’re at it, give the City Attorney her pink slip as well.

  13. Every community in Miami has a dog park. But apparently we just can’t have one here. Amazing.

  14. The City Manager, Peter Iglesias, is very bad for the City. His tactic is to stop projects that the residents want but he personally dislikes. His tactic is to put a very high price tag on the project.
    Stop Burger Bob’s because the price tag is now $900,000. Stop the dog park because the price tag for a simple fence is $275,000.

    Yet, Peter Iglesias has no problem spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars foolishly on the project he wants: his legacy, the Mobility Hub.

    We need a City Manager who works for the residents and not for himself. Someone who is mind-full that residents work hard to pay their taxes.

    Someone at City Hall must have the guts to fire Peter Iglesias.

  15. It’s time for our elected officials to see what some of us have been saying for what seems to be a very long time: Commission discusses what they want to see happen, they vote on it and send it to the staff to get it done! Well that is not the reality as we know it. Staff then takes time to go over the Commission’s “request” and decides whether it is a good idea or not. If they like it, it moves on, if they don’t the road blocks begin! That’s exactly what has happened again, except that it seems that the staff really went overboard! They came back with what almost everyone, not the staff, thought was unreal prices and suggestions! What gives? When is the Commission going to accept the reality that most of us have already seen and let the staff, from the top down, yes, including the City Manager, that they were the ones elected by the people to make the decisions and expect the staff to follow their lead?

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