I was ushered into a County Conference room with a small group of Environmentalists years ago, was it 2007? When was that stupid bond issue? We were there to get money in the bond issue for the PDR program, farmers were working their own front (county website describing the PDR Program):
Purchase of Development Rights
Miami-Dade County's agricultural lands are a unique and economically important resource. On September 20, 2007, the Board of County Commissioners adopted a resolution creating the County’s Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) Program. The PDR Program implements the will of Miami-Dade County voters by utilizing General Obligation Bond funds to preserve agricultural land. This program serves as one mechanism for farmland preservation by providing the County with the ability to purchase residential development rights from willing property owners, ensuring that the related properties remain undeveloped and available for agricultural uses.
I went down to the county to beg for money all those years ago. I think this was the only time I did beg the County for money. Between the environmentalists and the farmers, we got the money in the bond, $30 Million. Good.
Now my farmer friend reported to me that at today's meeting of the Economic Prosperity Committee they want to take $6,000,000 of that money for Ludlam Trail, he said:
Transferring funds from the Purchase of Development Rights program to fund the Ludlam Trail is a theft that cannot be allowed to happen! Myself and many others worked hard and convinced many others to vote for this bond issue. At a time when open space, natural areas, and rural agricultural lands have been systematically reduced in the county it is beyond reason to approve this transfer.
Agriculture in Miami Dade is constantly under pressure due to suburban sprawl, rising costs and regulations. Now, we are faced with a Oriental Fruit Fly quarantine which is having a devastating economic impact on growers. This proposed transfer of funds is a slap in the face to the many citizens who voted for this program and will hurt those farmers who work hard to maintain viable agriculture which is a major part of our county.
Please consider voting this proposal down.
He is too polite. I say NO NO NO. Although Ludlam Trail is worthy, this is like taking money from Everglades National Park to give it to Biscayne National Park, it is liking choosing to clean water or clean air, Peter to pay Paul (you get it?). This PDR money is to be held to buy development rights. If it is sitting there it is waiting it should be. The farmers were waiting for the downturn to pass, now there are applications pending for the money from a few farmers. So it is working and it is one of the only ways we have of saving farmland. It is so important. We need to preserve this land. It has to be there when farmers apply for it. KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF IT COMMISSIONERS. I think the meeting is today at 2. Do I have to drag myself downtown. Really? On a Friday? To go home in rush hour? Shame on whoever thought this up for torturing me. I should be under my covers on Friday the 13th.
As a postscript: Mayor Gimenez took a loan of $10,000,000 from this PDR pot to put sand on a beach (beach renourishment program or as I call it the climate change denial program). BUT, THIS IS NOT A LOAN. THIS LUDLAM TRAIL IDEA TAKES THE MONEY. The Ludlam Trail people did not ask for this and knew nothing about it. This was a bad idea by the mayor. Leave the money pot alone. I bet the Mayor will never repay it. As for Commissioner Sosa, she said it was not her idea, it came from the department -- she said further "It was me looking and working with the employees of the departments looking for alternative funding to prevent construction in all residential areas next to the line with the hope to make it green and a real trail." The Mayor is saying, according to his office, he knew nothing about it, it came directly from Sosa, Charles LaPradd said the same. Jennifer Moon had to find the money for Rebeca. Is Rebeca being thrown under the bus? The Mayor's Departments had to alert him on what was going on.
Postscript 2: Did the citizens committee in charge of changes to these bond funds approve the change? I called Nan Markowitz, in charge of GOB to find out. Waiting to hear back. This story isn't over.