Miami Beach Commissioner Jonah Wolfson met with Belle Isle residents Thursday night at the Belle Plaza condo, and spent about an hour listening to complaints about traffic, street flooding, loud motorcycles and other issues.
Wolfson didn’t give a speech and he didn’t politic. He did promise to follow up on a variety of local issues, and his aide took a lot of notes. Here are some highlights from the Q&A:
– On the South Beach Local bus service, which added Belle Isle to its route last year, Wolfson heard praise from residents who use it and complaints from folks who don’t. Supporters and opponents complained that the buses seem to go too fast on the narrow two-way road on Island Avenue.
Wolfson said the Belle Isle leg of the SBL run has until June to prove itself, and “if the numbers don’t justify it, it will be gone….The local has been a success, but even supporters know it comes down to the numbers. And the numbers aren’t that good, and that is what is will come down to in a difficult budget year.”
– On traffic around Island Avenue, several residents complained about the South Beach Local, as well as work trucks, moving vans and lunch trucks. A couple of residents suggested that Island Avenue be turned into a one-way street to ease crowding from the SBL and work trucks and vans that crowd the road during the day.
Belle Isle Residents Association president Scott Diffenderfer said the association warned the city the road would be too narrow, but the city didn’t listen. “We asked the city not to do this and they did it anyway.”
Wolfson said the one-way solution “has been thrown around as a good way to reduce” congestion, but it would need to be reviewed. “Parking and traffic enforcement can get involved,” with the trucks jamming the road. “The bigger question is longer term solution.”
– On Island Avenue flooding, a Belle Towers resident asked when the high tide overflow would be corrected.
Wolfson said the flooding is the result of a design error by a city-hired engineer, and a fix has been designed. The engineer was a no-show at a recent settlement conference.
He said he hopes the city “will be in the ground this year” to fix the problem, and will try to recoup the cost from the engineer.
– On the park near the New World Symphony Hall off Lincoln Road Mall, Wolfson said while he had some questions about the project, which went through its planning phase before he joined the commission, he does believe it will be an asset.
“We are going to get a three-acre park there, right off Lincoln Road, close to you guys here.”
– Dog Park maintenance. Residents complained the grass is worn, and poorly kept, and as a result, some dog owners allow there dogs to run out in the park without a leash. Wolfson said he’d ask the parks department about the maintenance, and suggested residents be vigilant with code enforcement. He said keeping dog park grass in good shape is difficult because of the beating they get. The city must “come up with a plan to let the areas recover; there isn’t a kind of grass that can take the pounding day in and day out.”
– Regarding an “eyesore’‘ south of Maurice Gibb Park next to the Collins Canal, where debris piles up and the city does a poor job of landscaping and maintenance, Wolfson promised to look the area over and follow up with the city.
– On Venetian Causeway renovations, one resident said it appeared they were behind schedule. The work started last year and was supposed to take a year. Wolfson agreed that work didn’t seem to be proceeding and said he would check with Miami-Dade County, which is in charge of the work
– On fixing potholes, which seem epidemic on Miami Beach streets.
“I can help with that,” Wolfson said. “This job really is potholes and police. I’m happy to look into that.”