Karelia Martinez Carbonell
Martinez Carbonell is the president of the Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables
Last week, the new Landmarks Advisory Board met for the first time since its creation last November and a board was born!
The City of Coral Gables, home to various entrances, landmarks and historic features, understood that a gap existed in City board and committee oversight as it related to the City-owned and/or maintained entrances, plazas, fountains, historic poles and lights, markers, statues, and other historically significant landmarks.
It is gratifying to finally welcome a new board whose sole purpose is to look after and care for our city’s historic public treasures.
This new city board sprang from the fact that public landmarks were in need of closer scrutiny, dedicated attention, and regular maintenance from both the historic resources department and public works. Both departments in partnership to best serve these significant structures.
Prompted by the deferred-maintenance and decades-long neglectful state of several public landmarks such as the 1926 decorative White Way streetlights and the unique and colorful Alhambra Water Tower, Jane Maranos and I saw the need for a remedy. Our conversations culminated in a formal proposal which was embraced by both Mayor Lago and Commissioner Anderson who went on to co-sponsor the item.
This Board is an important addition in the preservation and maintenance of the city’s cultural patrimony and I believe it will make a difference. Acting in the public interest, in partnership with the city’s preservation efforts and public works department, it will be able to make informed and equitable recommendations concerning the maintenance and care of the city’s historically significant landmarks.
In creating the new board, the City Commission believes that the addition of a Landmarks Advisory Board will provide resident oversight of the extensive landmarks throughout the City and allow a structure for residents and board members to review the condition of entryways and landmarks and bring maintenance issues to the City’s attention in a timely manner to avoid further deterioration.
The board consists of seven members, residents of the City, with a demonstrated passion for preservation of Coral Gables landmarks, and the City’s historic resources department along with the public works department will serve as support staff for the board.
It is about time our public landmarks get the undivided attention they deserve. A 1922 newspaper excerpt below describes a “delightful” trip along the plazas and boulevards home to many of our public landmarks. This new board will help keep our entrances, plazas, fountains, and other historically significant landmarks delightful.
“Eight miles of beautiful White Way now illuminate the Plazas, Boulevards, and Avenues of Coral Gables every night and present a new feature that marks a great stride ahead in the Big Coral Gables Development Program…It is in fact one of the most delightful—if not the most delightful night motor trip—of Greater Miami.” [Miami News 1922]