Next week, New Times is publishing a guide on eight of the worst public works projects in Miami-Dade, where bureaucrats and elected officials take pride in wasting millions in taxpayer dollars on crap residents have little-to-no use for.
As we reveal each one of these boondoggles on Riptide, we're asking readers to send us their suggestions of the most asinine things local government has built in your neighborhoods. We'll pick the best one and send the winner a seven-day pass to try out the wonderfully terrible public bus and rail system provided by Miami-Dade Transit. Leave your suggestions in the comments field or email them to Banana Republican.
Today: An entirely useless traffic circle mysteriously installed right in front of a Miami commissioner's house.
Marc Sarnoff's traffic circle
Year built: 2007
What's Dumb About It: It takes up so much space that school buses can't get around it without backing up at least twice.
Why It Got Built: Can you say city commissioner?
In 2001, Marc Sarnoff was president of the Center Coconut Grove Homeowners Association. He complained to city and county road planners that he needed a traffic circle to slow traffic in front of his two houses. Their response: the four way stop sign at Virginia Street and Shipping Avenue did a fine job. Six years later, newly elected City Commissioner Sarnoff made the circle one his top priorities.
Of course, he had to gather signatures from two-thirds of the residents on Shipping and Virginia. Well, Sarnoff found an end-around: Mary Conway, who at the time was Miami's chief of operations. In sworn testimony in unrelated criminal probe, Conway said Sarnoff was "always supportive" and had once offered her a job on his staff. Perhaps to show her appreciation, Conway tacked funding for the traffic circle onto an unrelated street-closure project without obtaining the signatures. Even worse, the money came from a sales tax meant to improve public transportation.
Michelle Niemeyer, a lawyer who ran against Sarnoff and lost in the most recent election, says the traffic circle serves no purpose other than to enhance the values of the commissioner's homes. "He doesn't have trucks going by there any more," Niemeyer says, noting the circle is too small for the intersection. "As soon as they drew the outline of where the circle was going, I knew there wasn't enough room for it," Niemeyer says. "Now that it is finally built, it is even more obvious. It even feels tight going around in my little car."
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