Welcome to our website. For the past twenty-two years I have participated in a policy making capacity for the Coral Gables government (12 years on the Planning & Zoning Board and ten years as Mayor). Now that I have moved back into “private” life, it is not my intention to lose interest in what happens in our beloved “City Beautiful”. Like you, this is my hometown where Jeannett and I have lived for the past 39 years, raised our children here and are now watching our granddaughters grow into good Gables citizens. What happens at City Hall effects our quality of life and impacts the value of our properties. You can expect me to stay involved; to continue to offer my observations as to the actions of our government and to make suggestions on what needs to be done for the betterment of our community. It was my extreme pleasure serving you and I am proud to be your neighbor – hopefully, Coral Gables will continue to be the pleasant, added value municipality that we all love. A place where people are kind to one another and where everyone’s rights are respected. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with your comments and opinions. Regards,
- Don Slesnick
Now that the campaign season has ended, we are beginning to see the “true” condition of our City’s finances and the “true” prospects for its future.
One of the many legacies that the Kerdyk, Withers, Cabrera, Anderson and Slesnick commission left in place for its constituents is a stable financial situation with good prospects for the future – despite the challenging financial recession of the past four years. In the May 12th edition of the Miami Herald Neighbors the headline reads: “City’s financial health more robust this year.” The article goes on to state that “Coral Gables is on track in collecting its revenues and has spent less than city officials had budgeted…Meanwhile, the city beefed up its reserves to $6.5 million from $4.5 million last year.” On the same day, the Miami Today’s front page added this good, and predictable, news: “Miami-Dade’s 2011 property values are expected to show the market has hit bottom already on single-family and condo properties, [County Property Appraiser] Garcia said, and in some cities they’re starting to climb. These are mostly, Miami-Dade’s most affluent areas, he said, citing Coral Gables…” Additionally, two weeks after the municipal election, the Herald Neighbors revealed the details of a proposed debt increase of $22 million to fund 17 projects of a “neighborhood renaissance” plan which in most part had nothing to do with “deferred maintenance.”
In fact, little attention has been given to the capitol projects which were authorized and funded by the last Commission (much of which was achieved by procuring County and State funding support) and are either in progress or about to begin. These include: the improvements and repair to the Police/Fire headquarters building ($3.5 million) and the sanitary sewer system ($6 million); street resurfacing and traffic calming installations ($800,000); the dredging of the Coral Gables Canal ($4.5 million); the repair and restoration of the historic North Gables Water Tower ($200,000); the restoration of the Miracle Theater’s historic marquee ($250,000); the on-going construction of the Ponce de Leon Boulevard median ($1.5 million) and the recently begun installation of the Segovia Street median ($850,000). Those project budgets total approximately $17.5 million of important investments that are already “on the books” and aimed at completion in the foreseeable future.
No matter what the political rhetoric was in the past, the time has come to recognize the true facts of our City’s financial status (challenged but full of promise) and how much money has been raised and dedicated toward continuing to improve our quality of life.
Upon reading last Sunday’s article about the Mayor’s “getting used to his new job”, I fully support his commitment to keeping Coral Gables a well-recognized center of international trade, banking and diplomacy. I am sure that the use of the word “re-internationalize” was unintended as it does not reflect the current dynamic global status of our City.
Despite our relatively small size compared to some Florida cities; Coral Gables has an enviable standing in the world of international commerce – due to the safe, inviting and sophisticated character of our community which makes it a perfect place to hold conferences and house diplomats. This city’s international standing has been in the making since its very inception and has blossomed in the last twenty-five years. Before me, Mayors Thomson, Corrigan and Valdes-Fauli have all contributed much to spreading the name “Coral Gables” across the globe.
During the past ten years we have accomplished many things in the international arena, such as: (1) increased the number of foreign Consulates located in our city [to include the addition of one of the major European nations – Italy]; (2) increased the number of Consul Generals living in the Gables [the latest addition being the representative of the Netherlands]; (3) attracted the Miami Regional Office of the U.S. State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions to locate in our business district; (4) participated in programming of the acclaimed University of Miami’s Center for Hemispheric Policy; (5) facilitated the construction of the Bacardi world-wide headquarters building in our downtown (one of South Florida’s premier international businesses); (6) continued to maintain the living quarters for the Commander of the U.S. Southern Command; (7) secured the “Latin American campus” of the Kellogg Executive MBA program of Northwestern University in Coral Gables; and, (8) gained recognition as the “Best Sister City Program in the Nation” for our size community.
Many of us are ready, willing and able to assist the Mayor in continuing Coral Gables’ participation as a vital component of South Florida’s “Gateway” role in the Western Hemisphere.