Commission Pulls Plug on Alhambra Complete Street Project

The City Commission of Coral Gables has unanimously passed a resolution sponsored by Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli to direct the City Manager and City Staff to remove the bike lane component from the Alhambra Complete Streets Project. Effectively, the resolution pulls the plug on the entire project and the city forfeits the $600,000 grant applied for in 2015. Proponents of the resolution said the grant included material misrepresentation submitted by Assistant Public Works Director for Sustainable Public Infrastructure, Jessica A. Keller, on behalf of the City.

In a power point presentation, longtime Alhambra Circle resident and former prosecutor Silvia Piñera-Vazquez highlighted in a slide 12 hours before the grant deadline. Piñera-Vazquez said Keller to reached out to a special interest, non-profit group, Bike Walk Coral Gables for a letter demonstrating community support. Typically grants request cities hold public meetings to gather evidence of community support as part of an application for funds, something Piñera-Vasquez says didn’t happen.

During the several hour discussion, Commissioner Mena brought up the fact that the resolution didn’t address the entire problem, which includes sidewalks. Guiding his decision to vote in favor of the resolution, Mena said he was disappointed the city didn’t have facts on exactly how many trees would be affected saying he suspected it was more than 3. The Mayor said he suspected more than 20.

Throughout the whole discussion, City Staff and Administration did not present or chime into the conversation, an act that appeared to be intentional.

After the unanimous vote, Vice Mayor Vince Lago called for a special sunshine meeting to discuss the future of the pedestrian and bicycle master plan and a possible city-wide referendum.

Towards the end of the meeting, Keller addressed the commission to clear the record on her behalf. She disputed Piñera-Vasquez’s power point indirectly and said the accusations that were made part of the record was inaccurate and could affect her future employment without clarification.

Keller thanked Keon for recognizing that she was just carrying out the will of the commission. Mayor Valdes-Fauli commended Keller and suggested that earlier residents that favored his own resolution could have made up accusations.

Subsequently, several emails were sent to elected officials and administrators by residents with various complaints and dissatisfaction about Keller. One particular email seemed to address the mayor himself who praised Keller’s “good work” calling it “shameful”.

Mayor Valdes-FauliVice Mayor LagoCommissioner KeonCommissioner MenaCommissioner Fors
YESYESYESYESYES

Updates to come ….

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16 thoughts on “Commission Pulls Plug on Alhambra Complete Street Project

  1. Due to its central location within Miami Dade County, the city has a traffic problem that has undergone study after study after study (old timers – remember Marlin Engineering in the 90’s?). This needs to be addressed once and for all and before we can discuss bike lanes, sidewalks, and jogging paths. Speeding and traffic volume are here to stay and not going away. We need to divert and slowdown vehicles before we plan the rest to ensure the safety of all. Need to stop acting like ostriches and take our heads out of the ground.

  2. I have yet to witness great demand for bike lanes, but there is TREMENDOUS demand for sidewalks. Sidewalks, please!!!

  3. Getting to the age that I shouldn’t be on a bike but I got rid of mine many years ago. NOT due to any physical shortcomings but nearly became a victim two times by people plowing thru STOP signs in North Gables. Second time the driver actually got furious with ME because my bike scratched her car door. Decided it was better to “quit” than to get “hit”!

  4. Sidewalks!!! Will be a great, safe and cash worth idea! We need them, drivers speed like there is no tomorrow even though they see you walking on grass with kids, dogs, strollers, etc.

  5. 1. The Federal Grant was obtained under false pretense
    2. Alhambra Circle according to FDOT is deemed unsafe for a bike path and therefore a path would have never been installed.
    3. The city spent over $300k and countless hours wasting time on renderings and designs which were completely inaccurate making the actual width of the street wider than it actually is
    4. Bike proponents would have had you believe Alhambra Circle was only going to loose 3 trees when in actuality the loss would have been be closer to 22
    5. George Merrick designed this city in his vision. We are his legacy and we are here to protect all that is Coral Gables. It’s love of preservation, it’s history and most of all it’s integrity.

    If one can’t appreciate what this City represents there are plenty of places to live. Cuba and China come to mind

  6. Maria Cruz- Even when the city employees and staff ask residents what they want, they STILL force their agendas down our throats. They are highly paid and have pensions and other benefits that none of us private sector people could ever hope for. It is almost impossible to fire them, even when there is fraud and wrongdoing involved. And yet, they do exactly what THEY want, not what the taxpayers who pay the rich pensions and salaries want. I have been totally disgusted with city employees for the whole 12 years I have been paying the crazy high property taxes in CG.

  7. Unseparated bicycle lanes often create a false sense of safety. While riding on the existing bike lane on the northern side of Alhambra Circle, my husband and I narrowly escaped being hit by a car. Although a sidewalk was available, a jogger angrily and loudly refused to yield to us. We were able to maneuver around him and thankfully, the car maneuvered around us. I don’t think a child would have had the quick reflexes to avoid being hit.

  8. We are very disappointed that the Coral Gables City Commission took the homeowner’s voices away yesterday in voting on the bike lane project on Alhambra Circle and closing down the voting process that was to give the homeowners a voice in the decision.

    We live in Alhambra Circle in an area that does not have sidewalks. We went to the public informational meetings, the walk throughs, and the commission meeting. We were promised we would get to vote on the issue.

    Bike lanes and sidewalks promote safer neighborhoods, elevate property values and make a city greener. But that is not the issue with my objection. I object to the process.

    It is a shame that a process that allowed for the determination of the majority of homeowner’s interests was scrapped for the benefit of a small group of organized individuals making their protests loud and visible, many of whom are not even homeowners on Alhambra Circle. All that was needed to respect the homeowners and allow majority input was to allow the ballots (already printed I understand) to go out and definitively determine what the majority of homeowners wanted.

    If the majority of homeowners opposed the project, a vote would have confirmed it. The process of the commission deciding last minute to take up the issue and vote against a proposal when a homeowner vote was impending and imminent is bad precedent. It concerns me for the future of our great city that a determined minority can stand in for the voice of the homeowners, without allowing for the process of obtaining affected homeowner’s votes. This is not how an elected democratic city government should proceed. The homeowners were effectively pushed aside with yesterday’s commission vote.

    It is indeed a sad day in Coral Gables.

  9. The public meetings highlighted for me the problems along this corridor. In particular, 1) the need for traffic calming, 2) safety by the bridge, and 3) pedestrian access to Betsy Adams park. Solutions that neighbors would find acceptable seem to be available. Unfortunately, it will be some time (years?) before they are addressed and their cost will now be borne by the city due to the loss of grant funds.

  10. Bike lane or no bike lane…my children aren’t riding their bicycles anywhere near that speedway. Bike lanes don’t offer any type of safety to bicyclist…exhibit 1: Key Biscayne.

    Concentrate on slowing down the traffic and enforcing traffic laws before thinking about a dam bike lane. Sidewalks I believe are more necessary than a bike lane.

  11. A sad day for the safety of bikers. A sad day for those that care for healthy lifestyles. A great day for people that love to drive cars. A great day for CO2 emissions and global warming. The elected officials voted for appeasement. Leaders are needed to take us to the future, and not take us to the past. Those that care about healthy lifestyles, will remember this day, when these commissioners seek for reelection in the next election.

  12. It’s very unfortunate that both the residents and the City loose sight of the real issue, SAFETY for pedestrians and cyclists. I agree the residents need to be informed of City proposals and have a say before a decision is made but the residents also need to remember we are more than a City but a community. As a community we should care of the well being of all. I have lived in the Coral Gables and Miami area all my life (55 yrs) and have witnessed the growth. With the poor infrastructure in place to accommodate this growth we need other methods of transportation, which include walking and cycling. Let’s not forget the health benefits for the whole family to SAFELY be able to walk and cycle in our beautiful City and wonderful Florida weather. Yes, I am an avid cyclist and have had close calls because of the lack of bike lanes. Please don’t deprive our children of this great outdoor activity. They will greatly benefit from it.

  13. Jorge,
    Your vote will have zero impact and frankly not a great loss. Since this is a democracy I suggest that if you’re not happy with the leadership of city hall you run for commissioner. Then you might get your vote to count for something other than throw accusations of totalitarianism on a community that has been forced into exile to escape exactly what you make fun of. Its not funny get involved if you dont like things the way they are then you can bicycle to city hall.

  14. How interesting your comment about the “totalitarian” resolution. What about the totalitarian process followed by the city employees that act as if they, and only they, know what is best for the rest of us. Employees who worked on a project for about five years without asking the property owners affected for their input. When are Jessica Keller and her like minded co-workers going to understand that they work for us, the residents, and not the other way around? How much longer is the City administration going to allow her to continue spending money in consultants to try to advance her agenda? Please ask her what happened at Riviera, Salzedo. etc. Google her name in conjunction with Baltimore so you can see her “great accomplishments.” There may be some areas of the US that would welcome Jessica’s agenda. Coral Gables is obviously NOT one of them.

  15. What a sad day for the City Beautiful. Residents clearly do not want outsiders to pass in front of their homes or safe bike paths. But the City welcomes outsiders when they are spending money downtown. I have an idea “Lets build a wall” and we can ask for ID’s and passports as we enter the Gables border. Thank you I will be listing my property soon before the market collapses.See you on the other side of the border.

  16. Everything the City does is at the will of the Commission. This bike lane was part of a plan that the Commission adopted. Their absence at community meetings and lack of direction on contentious issues exemplifies the spineless, gutless leadership we have here in Coral Gables! It was shown again today. Clearly, Mena and Keon were not in support of this totalitarian resolution, yet they sided with the Fauli/Lago regime anyway. Everyone on that dais has lost my vote.

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