It was a pleasure to attend the latest Gables by the Sea voluntary Homeowners Association meeting last night. Held at the Gulliver Academy campus next door, around 40 active participants spent an hour discussing the community's activities and news.
As an interested third party, it was nice to see the intelligent and insightful dialog by residents. I met the outgoing and incoming HOA presidents, as well as several other HOA board members.
The main point of business was discussing the proposed Gulliver Academy expansion. According to the proposed master plan amendment, Gulliver wants to increase its overall footprint from 82,203 SF to 181,878 SF, far in excess of the master plan that was approved about 8 years ago. Included in that expansion is a structure 44 feet tall, which includes a 1st floor parking facility. Residents are concerned about the environmental impact that may cause, including changing the school from a "colonial" look to institutional.
The proposed expansion, which could take 10 years to complete, would likely have construction vehicles rolling through residential streets, which people feel may increase the chance of injury and accidents.
While there was an overwhelming sense of angst and anger over the Gulliver expansion plan, the group remained constructive in their dialog. Several residents chimed in about the approval process, which must go to the City of Coral Gables at several levels to be green lighted. More information regarding this issue can be obtained at the community website.
General news was discussed as well. The newly installed security cameras at the South Gate are operational and have already helped police. A car that was reported stolen was actually repossessed. They got this information by reviewing the security camera history. The damaged entrance signs and wall are about a week away from being repaired. Volleyball courts are being added to the park, at the expense of the City of Coral Gables.
And, the big news of the night, which drew a round of applause, is that little girl "Amy" is home and doing better after being attacked by a neighborhood dog who had jumped its owner's fence. Mr. Christianson was dubbed a hero at the meeting for pulling the dog off the girl. Several residents remarked that other dogs have been spotted loose in the community. The HOA board members said they'd look into it.
The last big topic was the addition of a traffic circle at the Lugo and Red Road intersection, just behind the South Gate. The proposed circle was defeated about a year ago when it was discovered that Pinecrest needed to be consulted, seeing as how 1/4 of the circle lies in Pinecrest. During the meeting, the plans for the circle were distributed and discussed. Two residents on the intersection appear to lose small parts of their setbacks.
Most important, the process of getting the traffic circle installed requires funds. As explained, the City of Coral Gables has an approximate two year waiting line for funding projects like these. The residents must first get a paper vote out and receive a 51% approval before they can submit the funding request to the City. The HOA said they traffic committee would be working on getting that vote together soon.
Once complete, the traffic circle is expected to increase safety. "It forces people to slow down. There are no two ways about it. No one stops at the stop signs at that intersection... [not even me]." said one resident. The circle will also beautify the area.
The Gables by the Sea HOA seems to have decent funding, despite the fact that only 161 residents have paid the $100 volunteer annual dues.