Ever get that feeling that your elected official is completely out of touch with your district, your city, or even our everyday surroundings? I do, and I have some irrefutable evidence to support my claims. I’ve had a hunch for sometime that our commissioners are the type of people who drive to work daily from sprawl-land in their cushy vehicles to government center. As we all know from their objections against the downtown Marlins’ Stadium venue, they have the reserved privilege of parking on a nearby surface parking lot (I honestly wouldn’t see that as privilege but more of a hassle.) I get the feeling they don’t ride metrorail much (even though the “central station” is right at their doorstep) and don’t wander out for lunch, at least not on foot. An article in last week’s Miami Today confirmed my suspicions; a rare moment in Miami history occurred when Commissioner Joe Sanchez went for a walkThrough downtown Alone… Ha, ha! Just Kidding about the last one, this was an all out publicity blitz

“It was very important for us to go out, talk to merchants, find out what’s going on downtown,” said Miami Commissioner Joe Sanchez, chairman of the DDA. “When you’re up on the 29th floor, you don’t see what’s happening in the streets. You don’t see the cracks in the sidewalks, you don’t see the lights out on a streetlight.”

You also can’t see much if your eyes are closed, but I thought that too was common sense… I’m sorry, but is anyone else taken aback by the fact that commissioners likely haven’t walked around our downtown (barring special occasions such as these,) taken a ride in anything other than a private car, or heck, been at least somewhat conscious of the decay that has blighted the CBD, Parkwest, and Overtown neighborhoods for the better part of the last few decades? Taking a stroll along Flagler seems to me like the best place to start before making any decisions to spend our $10 Million on “streetscape enhancements” or voting to make the thoroughfare more pedestrian friendly by switching it to a two-way street…

While he and authority officials were quick to note Flagler Street’s potted and hanging plants and the uniformed maintenance crew pressure-cleaning the sidewalk [Strategically Placed, I presume], Mr. Sanchez did not hesitate to gesture to graffiti, unleveled sewer covers and stagnant water in the streets.

What’s he going to do, ignore it? Given the media circumstances I’m surprised he didn’t call over Sherwin Williams…

“These are the things we don’t see from an office or a board meeting,” he said. “People want beautification, people want cleanup. That’s what the people deserve.”

To attract more upscale retailers, vital in elevating the status of downtown, “we need to look perfect,” he said. “We need to look sharp.” Marketing is also crucial, he said. “The DDA needs to help get these tenants. Let’s romance it. Bring out all the guns. When they come, seven other merchants come.” Improving the landmark Macy’s store would be a start, Mr. Alonso said. “I think we need to persuade Macy’s to invest $10 million to $20 million and refurbish their store.”

We need to look like any other city outside of the “developing world?” Macy’s has played a great hand thus far, we know they’re bluffing but we still need to come to the realization that a large sum of money needs to be invested in this area. The downtown retail industry should be giving ole Simon a run for its money. The city has the ultimate “lifestyle center” at its fingertips; hey, it could actually emulate real life elsewhere by becoming an actual city center. Who knows? Bob has some thoughts…

Also in the works are plans to improve area transportation. Because bus service on Flagler Street was eliminated when it became two-way, the county will offer a new shuttle bus on Flagler Street beginning May 21 that will connect to Metrorail, the Port of Miami and Bayside, said Bob Pearsall, manager of service planning for Miami-Dade County Transit.
That kind of convenience along with cleanliness and safety will revitalize downtown, Mr. Sanchez said.

You remember that plan to make the area more pedestrian friendly and was endorsed by the same people who later complain about downtown congestion? Well had they known that the conversion to a two-way facility would actually inhibit traffic flow and make congestion worse I think the vote would have come out a little bit different- In any case, I’m not complaining…

“The whole downtown experience, the whole success for downtown, is people need to feel safe, keep coming back,” he said. “They need to have a pleasant experience.”

Pure genius. And all this time we were thinking that allowing homeless individuals to run amuck with our downtown was the right way to go…What were we thinking?

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5 Responses to Take a walk along Flagler and Roll Again…

  1. Anon #2 says:

    What was the rationale behind making Flagler two-way anyways? I can’t think of a single benefit of converting a one-way to a two-way street in such a dense area…


  2. Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal says:

    I don’t think there is a rationale behind most decisions in county or city hall…

    I found this excerpt on a City PDF:
    “The enhancements and beautification efforts will enhance the aesthetics of the
    downtown area as well as improve traffic circulation.”

    Improve circulation? On what Grounds? That is totally wrong…

  3. Anonymous says:

    There is a circle of urban planners out there who are adamant that one-way streets are evil and should be converted to two-way. Their argument is primarily centered around traffic calming and making it safer for pedestrians. I’m sure this was the expert advice that the powers-that-be were listening to when this particular decision was made.

    One possible benefit to this change is that Flagler will cease to be the primary commuter road in and out of downtown, the westbound car traffic will shift to N 1st St, and Flagler will be a more ped-oriented shopping street. How likely this is to happen is beyond my crystal ball.

  4. Dave says:

    It should also be pointed out that the City of Miami Commissioners dont need to go downtown at all as they work out of Miami’s City hall which is of course in Coconut Grove.

    Also, as Micheal Putney pointed out in a Herald article a few days ago, our strong mayor who will be hiring the new Transit cheif doesn’t need to do downtown either as he instead prefers to work out of a SW Miami-Dade satellite office (to be closer to “the people” I guess).

  5. Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal says:

    Yeah, I know that, but then what the heck is he trying to spot from 29 stories up in the air?

    I must have missed that tidbit from the Putney interview… Interesting…

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