There is little question that the first twelve years of Palmetto Bay's existence have been exciting, challenging, confusing and (to say the least) interesting. Palmetto Bay incorporated in 2002, following in the 1996 footsteps of Pinecrest. Among the early key active citizens to help create our Village was Eugene Flinn.
Flinn became Palmetto Bay's first mayor and served two terms (8 years) before term-limiting out. Now, after a four year absence, he's back on the campaign trail to become mayor again. I ran into Flinn Sunday morning at The Original Lots of Lox (South Dixie Highway and SW 152nd Street). Conversation ensued.
Me: Why are you running again?
Flinn: I'm very invested in this community. I am pleased with what we've been able to do and I miss a productive Village. When I was in office we were project oriented. We created a master plan, included interested Villagers and took action. I feel we've missed that over the past four years. I want to get Palmetto Bay back to doing projects. I have the drive, I enjoy public service and I think I'm good at at.
Me: What's going on with all these political signs?
Flinn: It's unfortunately part of the election season. I ask permission for every one of my signs. Residents should be aware that if a sign shows up on their yard without their permission or appears not to be in the public right-of-way, they should not be shy about exercising their rights.
One of my neighbors, Scott Krugman, spied Flinn and sat down for a minute before heading to work.
Krugman: I don't think we're doing so well. Palmetto Bay real estate is lagging behind Pinecrest, Coral Gables and even Cutler Bay. Why is that?
Flinn: It's about perception and Palmetto Bay is not perceived well these days. We've got to change that.
Krugman: I don't think we're moving forward. And if we're not moving forward, someone else will. How do we start to move forward?
Flinn: It's all about community and perception. The parks are a great example. Coral Reef Park was a huge reason for our early success. We are the Village of Parks. Programming and expanding parks like the Palmetto Bay and Thalatta Parks will help the Village.
Me: What about creating more business through a downtown?
Flinn: I agree we need that. The details of how to make it happen are what I'm worried about. For example, I'm generally against variances and one-off changes. If we need to grant a variance, maybe there is an underlying issue that we should address for all of Palmetto Bay.
Me: What is your #1 priority to take Palmetto Bay forward?
Flinn: A dozen years after incorporation, we need to re-assess the wants of the community and create a strategic plan. We were successful at the beginning with assess, plan and move forward. It's time to do that process again. Spot projects don't work. It has to be part of a comprehensive plan. We need to get people re-engaged.
Flinn: If we wait too long, it's going to be too late. We'll lose the forward momentum we've worked so hard to achieve. People have come up to me and asked me to run again. I'm answering the call and looking forward to moving Palmetto Bay forward again.
And with that, breakfast was over and Eugene and Alex Flinn scrambled off, but not before several other interested residents stopped by to say hello and ask a few questions...