MUSEUMS MOVEMENT: A long-stalled memorandum of understanding providing the terms of the planned Museum Park project is to be heard by Miami-Dade County's Recreation and Cultural Affairs Committee Monday, said Michael Spring, director of the county's Department of Cultural Affairs. Committee Chair and Commissioner Javier Souto deferred the item in January, questioning why the planned museums are to own their own facilities, among other issues. The memorandum is the first in a series of agreements needed to solidify longstanding plans to transform the derelict downtown park. Despite the hold up, "people are continuing to work away," Mr. Spring said. "People haven't stopped.… I don't think we can consider it a setback." Mr. Souto was in commission meetings Tuesday, but Mr. Spring said, "Commissioner Souto's questions have been addressed."
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NOTEWORTHY FUNDING: A Miami-Dade County grant of $27 million from convention development taxes to the New World Symphony to help build a $200 million campus for the national training orchestra is on Monday's agenda of the county's Recreation & Cultural Affairs Committee. The resolution asks Mayor Carlos Alvarez to negotiate the grant agreement and asks County Manager George Burgess to present the agreement to the county commission within 60 days — or a detailed report if the agreement isn't done in that time. The symphony plans to raise $140 million from the private sector, $15 million from selling its current home, the Lincoln Theater in Miami Beach, and $45 million from government.
WATER THEME PARK: Proposals will be sought to develop a Water Theme Park at the Miami MetroZoo, according to the county's Park and Recreation Department. The theme park is part of a project that includes a family entertainment center. In May 2003 the county commission approved advertising to seek a theme park proposal. When proposals come in, a panel that would include county staff is to review them and make a recommendation to County Manager George Burgess, who would have to affirm the decision. The plan by the chosen developer would then go before the county commission's Recreation & Cultural Affairs Committee and ultimately the county commission.
PARK PROCEEDS: Miami park buildings and programs could sport corporate monikers should officials give final approval today (4/10) to an ordinance allowing private sponsorship. They gave the initial thumbs-up last month. The initiative could mean extra dollars for the city during tight financial times. Should a private sector entity pay for the naming rights to a park building or program, the proceeds would pad the park budget.
OUTSIDE HELP: Miami could enlist help from two firms to help enact its capital improvement plans. Commissioners are to be asked today (4/10) to allow City Manager Pete Hernandez to execute agreements with Post, Buckley, Schuh, & Jernigan and DMJM Harris. The companies would provide services for two years with the option to extend annually for three more years. PBS&J would garner $5 million and DMJM $500,000.
GROWING GROCERIES: Milam's Market in Coconut Grove could expand should commissioners vote this month to allow grocery stores in certain commercial districts of Coconut Grove be 40,000 square feet without requiring special permission. Milam's is the only applicable store now, as no other grocers are located in the zone, roughly between Bird Road and US 1, Commissioner Marc Sarnoff said. He pulled the ordinance from today's (4/10) commission agenda to allow for more time to discuss it with residents.
MORE MONEY: Continuing a recent pattern of consulting companies requesting increases on project contracts, Intercounty Laboratories-USL and D/B/A Bureau Veritas' are to ask Miami commissioners today (4/10) to increase the firm's contract to provide environmental services for the Virginia Key remediation project by $711,293. It would bring the total to about $1.4 million.
WRAPPING IT UP: Today (4/10) could mark the end of the City of Miami's lengthy building murals legislative process. Commissioners voted last month after months of delays and debate to limit the outdoor advertising banners to 35 in the city's urban core. They later agreed to raise daily fines from $250 a day to $1,000 a day. They are to give final approval to both measures at today's meeting.
GARAGE GROUNDBREAKING: The Miami Parking Authority is to host a groundbreaking for its Courthouse Center Garage in downtown Miami at 5:30 p.m. April 29. The new garage is to offer more than 300 additional spaces than the old — which stood at 40 NW Third St. — as well as retail and office components. It is expected to open in summer 2009.
NEW PORT CALL: The Port of Miami will get a boost to its cargo business with the weekly port stop here of the CMA CGM Florida, a cargo ship that carries 5,078 containers full of goods. The ship, operated by the French firm CMA CGM, whose US headquarters is in Norfolk, VA, replaces a vessel that carried only 4,045 containers. CMA CGM is the world's third-largest sea transportation company. The new ship made its first call at the Miami port on Friday. "We look forward to expanding our services in conjunction with CMA CGM," Port Director Bill Johnson said in a statement.
FIXED-BASE ELITE: FalconTrust Air, based at Miami-Dade County's Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport, placed fourth among fixed-based operations in the county in a survey by New Jersey-based Aviation International News. Users were asked to rate FalconTrust based on facilities, services and passenger amenities. The top three general aviation firms were in Memphis, TN, Pontiac, MI, and Long Beach, CA, respectively. Bayan Air Service in Fort Lauderdale ranked seventh.
OLDER IDEAS: Miami-Dade County's Transportation Disadvantaged Local Coordinating Board is accepting applications for the "elderly representative position," Members of the board are selected by the governing board of the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization. The coordinating board identifies local service needs and gives advice, among other things. Details: (305) 375-1881 or www.miamidade.gov/mpo
INNOVATIVE NONPROFITS: Goodwill Industries of South Florida Inc. and the Women's Alliance Inc. received the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce's 2008 Novo Awards recognizing innovative excellence of nonprofit organizations at the chamber's Board of Governors & Trustees Lunch last week at the Hilton Miami Downtown. Each organization receives $1,000 with the honor. Goodwill won in the over $2 million revenue category, the Women's Alliance below $2 million. Twenty-six nonprofits applied for the award, said Sam Tidwell, CEO of the American Red Cross of Greater Miami & the Keys, who announced the seventh annual awards.
SPENDING CAPS VOTE DUE: The state Taxation and Budget Reform Commission postponed a decision April 4 on whether to let Florida voters decide in November to put spending caps on city and county governments. A commission vote on the proposed constitutional amendment by Duval County tax collector Michael Hogan is to be taken up April 14. "We're running out of time," said Mr. Hogan, a member of the commission. "The ship's still afloat. It has a lot of torpedo holes in it, but it may make it to shore." The proposal, which would also require residents to vote on new taxes, needs the support of 17 members of the 25-member panel.
BUSINESS HOTSPOT: CNNMoney.com ranked Doral 51st in the top 100 places to live and launch a business in the US. The site looked for cities with a mix of business advantage and lifestyle appeal. Doral was the only Miami-Dade city on the list and was noted as a small-business hotspot, especially for entrepreneurs active in the Latin American market.
RIVERDAY: The 12th annual Miami Riverday Festival is to be held noon to 5 p.m. April 12 at Jose Marti Park, between Southwest Fourth Street and Southwest Fourth Avenue in Miami.