New Year's Revolution

If you had your way, what single adjustment would you make to enhance the experience of living in South Florida?

Linda Faneuf
I would create a place where old people can come and tell their stories. Maybe at Ocean Drive in Lummus Park on Miami Beach. At sundown.

Craig Robins
president of Dacra Development Inc.
The first thing I would do is to ask town planners Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and Andres Duany to do a master plan for Dade County and subplans for individual communities so we would completely rearrange our approach to development in a way that would emphasize a wholesome sense of community. Everyone would say it's impossible and uneconomical, but I don't believe any of that. It's purely a matter of retraining ourselves. I don't think it's ever too late. I think the nature of the challenge in the formed areas is different from the nature of the challenge in the unformed areas. As an example, take a place that's horrible and anti-community, like Aventura. If you organize the zoning to create shops between all the buildings, it would look so much more beautiful and create foot traffic. It's a matter of taking something wrong and making it right. I'm not proposing a master solution to our destiny. Rather, it's deciding how to lean.

Bill Wynn
manager of Afro Caribbean Import, Export Inc., Liberty City
I would institute a system that I call "participatory democracy." It would be designed to allow the citizens to influence the direction of community services by having an open poll. Maybe quarterly or biannually, citizens would respond to a question or series of questions. It could be done by phone and organized by commission districts. It would allow the administrators to shift their resources to respond to citizens' concerns. As it is, government operates on the whims of bureaucrats. How many people can afford to go to a commission meeting and wait there all day for a specific issue to come up? And in many instances the issue of services is never on the agenda.

Anthony Clemente
director of the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department
I'd like to see a revolution in education. I'd implement the concept of vouchers that would make public schools competitive with the private school system. Having a choice, I think, would significantly improve the education system in Dade County.

Beth Dunlop
architecture writer
I would stop all this overbuilding madness that we see evidence of everywhere. I'd eliminate all zoning exemptions across the board. I'd roll back all the zoning by 25 to 50 percent. The height and bulk limits would be half of what they are now. Zoning pertaining to historic buildings or open space should be tripled in its strictness. I'd cancel all grandfathered projects that don't meet the new zoning changes. Then I'd selectively demolish new buildings that are a horrible blight on the landscape and a detriment to our appreciation of the built and the unbuilt environments. To wit: the Hotel Inter-Continental and the Miami Center building next door, Portofino Tower, the Omni, the Terremark Building and its neighbors on South Bayshore Drive, the Miami Herald building -- it's a terrible blight! -- the whole Plaza Venetia complex and the Sunset Harbour complex on the Venetian Causeway, the federal jail in downtown Miami.

Brother Paul Johnson
executive director of Camillus House
People make $4.25 an hour and work 40 hours a week, which gives them about $9000 a year. That's way under the poverty level and that causes more than 100,000 homeless children each night around the nation. If we raise minimum wage to seven dollars an hour and no one gets a wage increase except the very poor, we might be able to eliminate welfare and the people who work for welfare. Let's do it in Dade County and see if it works. Why not be innovative and see if it bankrupts us?

Bob Carr
Dade County archaeologist
I would create historic areas, such as the Miami River corridor or Little Haiti or East Little Havana, change the zoning, and offer tax-rebate incentives to encourage property owners to enhance their properties. Then the pressure would be off to build an apartment building instead of maintaining their house. That could help neighborhoods survive and encourage a rediscovery of Miami's history and heritage.

Michael Putney
WPLG-TV (Channel 10) political reporter
I would move the performing arts center from the awful location it's planned for and put it in Bicentennial Park. I think the current location, to put it mildly, is inhospitable. If you think about great centers for the arts in other U.S. cities -- you've been to Lincoln Center, you've been to the Kennedy Center -- none is in a parking lot by the Miami Herald! I would also put the new arena on the west side of Biscayne Boulevard. A building that's going to be ten stories high on the east side of the boulevard, even back in the southwest corner of the property, would not be an aesthetically pleasing thing. I would put the performing arts center up near I-395 but looking out on the bay, just as you can go out on the walkways of the Kennedy Center and look down on the Potomac.

Sam Boldrick
Florida Collection manager of the Miami-Dade Public Library
I'd budget money to take care of trees. Government goes out and buys trees, but there's never any followup. There's one tree at the Douglas Road Metrorail station that's been at a 45-degree angle for more than a year. They cut the grass, but they never prop up the tree! Lush vegetation covers up a multitude of evils and ugliness.

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