Tag Archives: corruption

Collins Canal bike path should be complete by late April, city says

Bike path and seawall work between Alton Road and Michigan.

Bike path and seawall work between Alton Road and Michigan.

Stalled work on the Collins Canal seawall and bike path has resumed, and the project should be complete in late April, Belle Isle residents were told this week.

Construction on the seawall and bike path was halted last fall after Miami-Dade prosecutors arrested former Miami Beach procurement director Gus Lopez on  63 charges including racketeering, bid-tampering and illegal compensation in connection with a dozen different city contracts. The bike path contract, with Harbour Construction, is one of the projects tied to that investigation.

The city has decided to move forward with the work, said Rick Saltrick, chief capital projects engineer for the city.

“We stopped work for a while because of procurement issues,” he told a gathering of the Belle Isle Residents Association on Wednesday night. ” We decided to go ahead and let him finish….We shouldn’t punish the rest of the city” with an unfinished project.

Harbour Construction had already been been paid more than $3.6 million on the $4 million project. The Miami Herald reported that police said company employees admitted to falsifying a letter of credit and receiving leaked information about other companies’ bids.

The project extends the existing bike path from where Dade Boulevard splits off of 17th Street at the Collins Canal bridge to Convention Center Drive.  In all, it’s 2,900 long, and will enable bikers, runners and parents pushing strollers to get from Belle Isle to the beach on a nice sidewalk all the way.

The improvements include raising the existing seawall to address times of high water. Completed, the path will feature a wider concrete path, landscaping and improved lighting using LED fixtures.


Galbut moves meeting from Miami Beach City Hall, SoFi residents wary of South Shore project

Developer Russell Galbut has backed off his request to hold a meeting today on plans for the South Shore Hospital property in the Miami Beach City Commission chambers.

Instead, the discussion of the development will happen at the Shelbourne Hotel, 1801 Collins Ave., which is owned by Galbut’s Crescent Heights firm. It starts at 1 p.m.

That moves the meeting away from the protest planned at noon today in front of City Hall, 1700 Convention Center Dr., by activists angered by the recent code enforcement scandal and other issues in Miami Beach.

The commission agreement to allow Crescent Heights to use City Hall for its design charrette sparked some of that anger. Crescent Heights is seeking design proposals for a mixed use project on the property between West Avenue and Alton Road north of Fifth Street, including an outlet mall.

Meanwhile, the South of Fifth Neighborhood Association says it needs to pay close attention to plans for the South Shore property, because of the huge potential impact on their area.

This note went out to SOFNA residents on Tuesday:

To: sofna@sofna.net
This coming Thursday, April 26, from 1:00 pm – 5:00, Miami Beach developer, Russell Galbut, and his company, Crescent Heights, will present a design Charrette at the Shelborne Hotel, 1801 Collins.  Mr. Galbut, who will soon be a South of Fifth neighbor with a private home along First Street,  has retained three prominent architecture firms to submit competing designs for a proposed retail outlet mall that he hopes to build from the west side of 5th and Alton through 7th and Alton.  The Charrette will be moderated by Adam Drisin, Associate Dean of FIU’s College of Architecture.

 The South of Fifth Neighborhood Association (SOFNA) has not taken an official position on the outlet mall proposals and will not do so before the details are unveiled this Thursday.  Even after reviewing the designs, we will likely need further information from independent traffic analysts, as well as a determination of whether such a commercial use would have beneficial or deleterious effects on other businesses and adjoining neighborhoods such as ours.

However, we cannot overemphasize the importance of attending Thursday’s hearing.  We understand that it is an inconvenient time for many since it’s midafternoon during a weekday.  But for those of you who can make it, your attendance could be important.  When we founded SOFNA in 2007, one of the matters about which many members expressed frustration was our organization’s inability to have any effect on the 5th and Alton shopping center.   SOFNA came into existence after the city commission and all the relevant city boards had already given a green light to that center.

Fifth and Alton was a good lesson.  The earlier and more vocal our neighborhood’s position on a project is heard by city officials, the better the odds we can have a substantive effect.   We hope that those of you can attend will do so, and if you have an opinion for or against, you’ll make it known.

SOFNA Board of Directors

Steve Mandy, President

Victor Diaz, Vice-President

Gerald Posner, Secretary

Mike Perlmutter, Treasurer

John Conrad

Morris Sunshine

Laura Cullen


Amid scandal, rental of city commission chamber, the Miami Beach activists are getting restless

Miami Beach activist Frank Del Vecchio says he is organizing a protest rally in the wake of the city of Miami Beach code enforcement corruption arrests.

And Miami Beach United is calling on city commissioners to reverse their decision to let a private developer — Russell Galbut of Crescent Heights– use the City Commission chambers for presentation on the property he controls at the MacArthur Causeway entrance to Miami Beach (the old South Shore Hospital site on Alton Road), where he’s proposing an outlet mall and residential complex.

You don’t have to look far to see angry residents on Miami Beach, whether they are frustrated over the sluggish construction on the Venetian Causeway to worrying about how the city will handle the upcoming Memorial Day weekend crowds.

When the commission decided to let Crescent Heights use the city commission chambers to present its proposal, letters started firing toward city hall.

Activist Jo Manning fired this missive:

“Since when do third parties — private parties that do not serve the public — get the use of our Commission Chambers for gain and to attract potential investors to their projects?

“…There are public venues a-plenty for such a presentation, if it once again needs to be presented. (Among them, the Botanical Garden, the public library, even the Shelborne Hotel.) Holding this in City Hall gives it tacit approval from the City of Miami Beach, whether or not you argue that it does not.”

Galbut told The Miami Herald the meeting will be used to air different possible uses of the property, one of the largest on South Beach available for development.

But architect Arthur Marcus wrote:

“I am appalled and quite dismayed – to say the least – that you are looking to rent out the City of Miami Beach Commission Chambers to a private developer to promote a private development. This is not at all for the public good as has been argued.  This illegally legitimizes one private development and gives it the ‘perceived’ stamp of government approval.”
And code enforcement corruption arrests–which involve charges that inspectors extorted $25,000 out of a South Beach nightclub owner — prompted four city commissioners to call for a special meeting to vent and discuss possibly fire the city manager.
Four city commissioners have called for a special meeting to discuss the arrests, including two who told The Miami Herald that Gonzalez should resign or be fired.Del Vecchio called for a protest — he says in a letter to commissioners — because the city has been unresponsive to complaints about lax code enforcement. “It took the FBI to uncover the plot,” he says.
The rally is supposed to happen at noon on Thursday, April 26, at City Hall.