Urban Environment League

Miami Dade County Community Forum

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Please go to our webpage www.uel.org where our blog has been moved.

Thank you!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Orchids & Onions Awards: Subrata Basu

Subrata Basu received an Urban Environment League Orchid Award for Lifetime Achievement Planning/Regional Issues:

Subrata Basu, architect, planner and artist, left the planning jungle of South Florida to join the Peace Corps in Belize. His 34 years in public service included time as Community Redevelopment Director of South Miami and his last position as Assistant Director for Planning at the County. His leadership in numerous charrettes for urban centers demonstrated his deep commitment to creating livable communities and to promoting vigorous public participation in planning. He was a strong defender of the Urban Development Boundary and will be sorely missed. Our loss is the Peace Corp’s gain.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Scenic Miami Call to Action on Billboard Ordinance

Big Support: Norman Braman has written all County Commissioners in support of scenicmiamidade.org and opposing Comm Bruno Barreiro's legislation to let cities opt out completely of county sign ordinance; he also requested that Comm. Barreiro withdraw the legislation. (see letter also TAKE ACTION on this issue before Wednesday.)

Big Victory: Federal Highway Administration rebukes Miami for illegal mural ordinance (click on link at www.scenicmiamidade.org to see letter)

Big Coverage: Three articles in the Miami Herald in last week

Big Fight: Keep our County Sign Code intact.

Tell our City and County commissioners and adminstrators that we do not want cities writing their own billboard ticket (more Miami rogue ordinances??) Another city, West Miami, has bowed to the outdoor advertising industry and allowed a massive electronic LED digital billboard which blights that city as well as west Coral Gables.

We oppose Comm. Bruno Barreiro's legislation to let cities completely opt out of the County sign code.

The next vote is in the Infrastructure and Land Use Committee at 2 pm Wednesday July 13 at the Commission Chambers, Stephen P. Clark Center, 111 NW 1st Street, The Commissioners say they like to see people in the chamber so please attend this meeting and make your opinion known. Members: Chair Edmonson, Barreiro, Diaz, Jordan, Monestime, and Sosa.

UEL signs letter to FDEP about Port and Tunnel Dredging in Biscayne Bay

Major environmental and civic groups in Miami are asking the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to slow down the environmental permitting process for the proposed Port of Miami deep dredge project to assure the utmost protection for the fragile natural resources of Biscayne Bay, Miami Beach, and even the Florida Keys.

Seagrass beds, coral reefs and water quality will be impacted by blasting, boring and dredging that are proposed as part of the expansion projects at the Port of Miami, that seek to attract Post-Panamax freighter ships, the largest in the world. The secondary, cumulative environmental impacts of transforming the Port of Miami into a major industrial port -- have also not been properly explored nor assessed, the groups state. These impacts include subjecting the shallow bay and off shore coral reefs to increased risk of oil spills and groundings.

“There should be no shortcuts in either the costs that will be incurred to ensure best management practices or employing the least environmentally harmful methods available," was stated in a letter sent Friday, July 1, 2001 to Mr. Michael Carothers, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems.

"The full of amount of highest quality mitigation is required to protect our existing resources as well. Quality mitigation should restore habitats to extent possible to keep intact resources healthy, effectively resolving anticipated issues, as well as account for any likely yet unanticipated secondary impacts.” The 12-page letter was signed by representatives of environmental groups representing thousands of Floridians, including: the National Parks and Conservation Association, (NPCA), Tropical Audubon Society, Friends of Biscayne Bay, Sierra Club Miami Group, Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, Izaak Walton League, the Environmental Coalition of Miami and Miami Beaches, Surfrider Miami, Urban Environment League, Urban Paradise Guild, and Clean Water Action.
Among the issues discussed:

1. A plan to use Virginia Key, a 1,000 acre barrier island with the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve that is home to a state-designated critical wildlife area, as a disposal site for port tunnel and dredge materials.

2. The impacts of 600 days of blasting in areas never previously impacted by past dredging projects, including coral reefs off Miami Beach.

3. Water quality issues in Biscayne Bay, revered for crystal clear waters and extensive seagrass beds that are essential habitat for endangered species, including manatees and sea turtles. As a designated “Outstanding Florida Water,” the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve, state standards call for “no degradation of water quality.”

4. Insufficient consideration of all natural resources impacted due to the Army Corps not taking into account that latest studies and assessments that reflect current conditions and resources.

5. Contamination from spoil materials within the Aquatic Preserve, including use of dredging or excavated materials for fill.

6. Secondary and cumulative impacts of port expansion projects, including groundings and oil spills in Biscayne Bay, Florida Bay and the Florida Keys from increased port activities and larger size of vessels.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Emilie Young Posthumous Orchid Award

Emilie Young received a posthumous 2011 Orchid Award for Environmental Excellence:

Emilie Young’s commitment to preserving the natural heritage of South Florida is a model for all of us. Under her leadership, the County’s Environmentally Endangered Land Program
acquired and maintained nearly 18,000 acres of rockridge pineland, tropical hardwood
hammocks, freshwater and coastal wetlands. This legacy will forever remind us of her love of the natural world, her commitment to the future of this County, and her incredible skill at
negotiating a good deal for the County taxpayers. She will be missed.

Accepting the award is Cynthia Guerra Director of the County’s Environmentally Endangered Land Program. Former County Commissioner Katy Sorenson was on hand to present the award. Sonia Succar is also pictured.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Paula Church Recipient of Posthumous Orchid Award

Pictured: UEL Treasurer Barbara Falsey, Paula's husband Tom receiving the award, Mark Woerner her supervisor at Miami Dade County and Sonia Succar, UEL Co-President.

On June 15th, Paula Church was presented with the 2011 UEL Orchid Award:

Paula Church was one of the quiet and forceful soldiers in the fight for good planning in Miami Dade County. Her commitment to the environment and sound public policy were cornerstones in her work on the County’s Comprehensive Development Master Plan. As Supervisor in the Metropolitan Division, she was a gentle advocate for good planning and environmental protection. She was cherished by her colleagues and respected by the development community with whom she often strongly disagreed but respectfully and with good humor. Her passion for good planning, and for her home team – Go Canes – will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

James Murley Awarded the UEL 2011 Orchid Award

James Murley received the 2011 UEL Orchid Award for Lifetime Achievement for Planning/Regional Issues:

For a lifetime of leadership in the State of Florida promoting growth management and environmental protection. He has demonstrated that economic development can be furthered by combatting urban sprawl at the same time. He is providing a legacy that needs to be restored, not dismantled.

James Murley pictured with his lovely daughter!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Eric Buermann Received a UEL Orchid Award

Eric Buermann was presented with a 2011 Orchid Award by UEL Vice President Ernie Martin for being a Champion at Protecting Florida's Water:

Attorney Eric Buermann was appointed to the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board by Governor Charlie Crist and he quickly became the Chairman of the Board. During that same period he was the chairman of the Miami River Commission. He left an indelible mark serving on both. The landmark sugar land deal that he oversaw was hailed by environmentalists as a monumental step in Everglades Restoration.

The Audience during the event June 15th.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Grace Solares Recipient of a UEL Orchid Award

Grace Solares was presented with the UEL Orchid Award for Best Neighborhood Activist by Mayor Tomas Regalado:

Grace Solares was one of the founders of Miami Neighborhoods United,
a coalition of 21 City of Miami Neighborhood Associations. She now serves
as their President. She has been a champion for residential
neighborhoods in the new City of Miami zoning code “Miami 21.” Grace is
making sure city residents interests are protected in the new code. She also
took on City of Miami leaders to oppose the funding of the Marlins
Stadium. We want to thank Grace Solares for her commitment to the
community and for her partnership on numerous issues and events with the UEL.

Congratulations Mayor Gimenez.

The UEL Board of Directors want to congratulate Carlos Gimenez, the new mayor of Miami Dade County. We are looking forward to working with him on many issues in the future.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Harry Horgan: UEL Orchid Award Winner for Environmental Restoration

We were pleased to present a UEL Orchid Award to Harry Horgan for Environmental Restoration:

Harry Horgan has been an important member of the South Florida community through his extraordinary programs focused on improving the lives of individuals with physical, developmental and economic challenges. His mission has extended to include the importance of environmental protection by incorporating the adjacent spoil islands/eco islands into Shake a Leg's educational programs. In working alongside various agencies and volunteer groups, Harry and his team have been able to restore these islands into rare gems made up of nature's treasures for all to enjoy and explore. The UEL commends Harry and Shake a Leg for taking such a bold environmental restoration initiative.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Virginia Key: Dredge Fill A Bad Idea For Virginia Key

In an editorial Saturday, the Miami Herald weighed in on putting dredge fill from the port tunnel on Virginia Key:

In January, the city of Miami signed an agreement with Miami Access Tunnel, the company in charge of the massive project, allowing it to deposit up to 55,000 cubic yards of material displaced from the drilling preparation and drilling itself on Virginia Key’s northwest coast. In exchange, the company promised to use the fill to build a berm around the unsightly — and odoriferous — Virginia Key sewage plant. And:

Virginia Key should not become a casualty of the Big Dig. It is one of the few waterfront locations for family recreation in the city, and must be protected — even as a deeper port propels Miami forward.

The Miami Herald suggests that environmentalists should offer alternatives for the deposit of dredge fill. Is that not the job of the agencies involved, to find a suitable place, that does no harm, when they sign off on a project?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The 2011-12 Urban Environment League Board of Directors

Left to Right: Beba Mann, Sonia Succar, Enid Pinkney, Jennifer Balfe, Tony Garcia, Stephanie Cornejo, Marisa Fortunati, Jennifer Garcia, Greg Bush.
In the rear: Ernie Martin, Frank Rollason, Roger Horne and Thorn Grafton.
Not pictured: Barbara Falsey, Nancy Liebman, Albert Ruder, Paul Schwiep, Fran Bohnsack and John Van Leer.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More from the Orchid's and Onion's Awards.

Pictured above are UEL Treasurer Babara Falsey and Deputy Director of Parks, Alex Munoz. Munoz accepted the award presented to Howard Gregg, his predecessor at Parks and Recreation. This was the copy from the award he received for "Lifetime Achievement in Planning":

Howard Gregg’s contributions to the Miami Dade County Park and Recreation system over his 34 year career are too numerous to mention. To mention just a few: under his leadership the Department more than doubled its land holdings, from 6,000 to 12,000 acres; he helped establish the Natural Areas Management Division (NAM) which restores natural habitat; and he recently led the development of the Park and Open Space System Master Plan; a 50 year vision for making Miami-Dade County a healthier and more livable community. We wish him well in retirement in the land of orchids – Hawaii.

Pictured below is UEL intern, Jenny Leizerovich, posing with City of Miami Mayor, Tomas Regalado. Mayor Regalado was there to present an award to Grace Solares as "Best Neighborhood Activist."

UPDATE: Billboards. By Barbara Bisno

• County Committee defers to 7/13, wants a compromise. See summary.

• New Alert - City of Miami Commission, 6/23, vacant storefronts plastered with ads in neighborhoods, tell them to vote "no" or amend drastically. Please go to our site and then click "take action" to voice your objections.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Onions and Orchids Event.

The Onions and Orchids, Urban Environment League event, was a success. Almost 100 people came downtown to Villa 221 to watch the awards.

We will highlight some of the award winners, and post pictures from the event, here on the UEL blog, over the next few weeks. We wanted to start with a members of our Board of Directors, Tony Garcia:

Tony Garcia has been an instrumental force in opening up the dialogue of transit oriented issues in Miami-Dade through his blog and advocacy organization, Transit Miami. His activism runs deep as he promotes the importance of smart growth planning principles and effective transportation systems; Tony’s blog helps us to learn to avoid sprawl by developing compact, transit-oriented, walkable and bicycle-friendly neighborhoods. Tony is a young leader who values long term planning that will preserve our natural resources while enhancing the public health of Miami's residents. Transit Miami's motto of "Moving Forward, Faster" is certainly gaining speed with modern day conductors like Tony.