Miami Dade County Community Forum

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.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tomorrow: Sixth Annual Orchids & Onions Award Presentation recognizes Miami's environmental movers & shakers.

On Wednesday, June 15, 2011, the Urban Environment League will host its sixth annual Orchids & Onions Award Presentation. This event has been widely acclaimed at recognizing individuals in the community who have been instrumental in initiating projects and campaigns which enhance Miami-Dade's natural and built environment.

The awards, which are given out as orchids, will recognize such individuals as Gary Milano of DERM and Harry Horgan of Shake a Leg, both who have made tremendous progress towards environmental restoration in South Florida. Other orchid recipients include transit blogger Tony Garcia, who co-founded Transit Miami, a website that has significantly elevated the discussion of transportation and alternative transit in South Florida, as well as the recently formed Scenic Miami coalition lead by Barbara Bisno & Dusty Melton, who have been instrumental in fighting the advertising and mural billboards propping up all over Miami.

Along with the many orchids that will be given out throughout the evening by UEL's board members and elected officials, a batch of onions will also be presented to individuals who have seriously affected the environment through backwards legislation and/or destructive projects in Miami. These onions include Governor Rick Scott and his recent undoing of Florida's Growth Management Laws and media developer Mark Siffin for his proposed LED media tower in downtown Miami.

The award presentation will take place at the recently opened downtown venue space, Villa 221 from 6-9pm.

To see the full list of award recipients and to find out more information about UEL, please visit

Friday, June 10, 2011

DCA Workshop Schedule

The six workshops identified below are scheduled in place of the annual DCA Growth Management Implementation Workshop held in June.

These regional workshops are FREE of charge. Please make plans to attend and listen to Secretary Buzzett and staff discuss the 2011 Legislative Session and its impact on the Department of Community Affairs and the state's growth management programs. To register, please send an email to, including your name, organization, and the date of the workshop you plan to attend. Please direct any QUESTIONS you may have to

Billy Buzzett, Secretary
Tom Beck, Director, Division of Community Planning
DCA Planning Staff

Date: June 21, 2011
Time: 1:30 pm – 4:45 pm
Southwest Florida and Tampa Bay Regional Planning Councils

Location: State College of Florida, Center of Information and Technology
7131 Professional Parkway East, Sarasota FL

Date: June 22, 2011
Time: 1:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Hosts: Central and East Central Regional Planning Councils
Location: Fantasy of Flight, Orlampa Conference Center
1400 Broadway Boulevard, South East, Polk City, FL

Date: June 27, 2011
Time: 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Hosts: North Central Florida and Withlacoochee Regional Planning Councils
Location: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, Doyle Conner Building
1911 Southwest 34th Street (State Road 121), Gainesville, FL

Date: June 28, 2011
Time: 9:00 am – 12:30 pm
Host: Northeast Florida Regional Planning Council
Location: St. Johns County Convention Center, World Golf Village
500 South Legacy Trail, St. Augustine, FL

Date: June 30, 2011
Time: 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Hosts: South Florida and Treasure Coast Regional Planning Councils
Location: 6500 Building Auditorium
6500 Congress Avenue, Boca Raton, FL

Date: July 5, 2011
Time: 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm (CST)
Hosts: Apalachee and West Florida Regional Planning Councils
Location: Walton County Courthouse, County Commission Chambers
571 US 90 East, DeFuniak Springs, FL

Sheri Coven
Director of Intergovernmental and Public Affairs
FL Dept. of Community Affairs

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mayoral Candidates Forum - June 14

There will be a candidate's forum in Kendall.

East Kendall Homeowners Association (EKHO)
has invited
Carlos Gimenez and Julio Robaina
to a candidates forum
Date: Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Location: Dice House
10000 S. W. 82 Avenue
Time: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Proposed Slate for UEL Board of Directors and Advisory Board

Officers (bold-new proposed board of directors)
Jennifer Balfe
Fran Bohnsack
Greg Bush
Stephanie Cornejo
Barbara Falsey
Marisa Fortunati
Anthony Garcia
Jennifer Garcia
Thorn Grafton
Albert Harum-Alvarez
Roger Horne
Nancy Liebman
Beba SardiƱa Mann
Ernest Martin
Enid Pinkney
Albert Ruder
Paul Schwiep
Irene Secada
John Van Leer
Frank Rollason

Advisory Board
Roger Carlton
Jeremy Glazer
Violette Sproul
Sonia Succar

Monday, June 6, 2011

June 15th Orchids & Onions Awards has a NEW LOCATION!

UEL's 6th Annual Orchids & Onions location has moved to the beautiful new downtown space VILLA 221 on Wednesday, June 15th at 6pm. The location is: 221 NE 17th Street, just West of the old OMNI complex. Double click to open the invite in a larger version.

Please tell your friends about this new location.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Billboard on I95 in Miami Ruled Illegal

The photo above is from google maps. This billboard has been the subject of an ongoing lawsuit. The building is empty and its revenue comes from its use as a billboard.

According to reporter Andres Viglucci who has been following the case:

Now an appeals court has handed the county a clear-cut victory that may put an end to the legal fracas, ruling that the signs must come down.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the Third District Court of Appeal, issued Wednesday, also represents a boost for billboard opponents mustering a campaign to stop the proliferation of ads along the city’s expressways.

Ernie Martin has been heading the UEL committee on this issue. Barbara Bisno, a longtime UEL member and a future recipient of an UEL orchid June 15th, is one of opponents that Viglucci referred to. Bisno, a co-founder of Scenic Miami-Dade, said:

This is a great decision for our community in our effort to secure and preserve a safe environment and our natural beauty. The county sign ordinance is a major protection for all residents from visual pollution.

Come see her and other billboard activists get their orchids on June 15 and perhaps think about joining Barabra's Group.