Homestead City Council Advances Community Projects Amidst Managerial Concerns

During a recent Homestead City Council meeting, the council addressed several community projects and matters, while the firing of the city manager drew public criticism. The council discussed a substantial proposal for redeveloping the Old Edison building into a food hall and entertainment venue, the commissioning of a public sculpture, the award of a major grant for park trails, and two legal settlements concerning past incidents with city implications.

A central topic was the proposal by Society 8 Hospitality Group to transform the Old Edison building into a multifaceted food hall concept featuring entertainment, a brewery, bar, and live performances. Society 8’s proposal involved a $1 per year rent during the development phase, a 6% facility management fee of gross sales, and a 10% fee for managing kiosk rents. The Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) would cover exterior maintenance and landscaping and contribute up to $1.5 million for tenant improvements. The board deliberated the financial aspects of the project, including unquantified costs for roof and parking lot repairs and the possibility of reserving part of the building for alternative uses. The representative from Society 8 responded to questions, highlighting the potential impact on the business model and projections.

Another discussion revolved around the contract with Bad River Artworks for a bronze sculpture of William Chrome. The artist, Lee Leuning, presented virtually, outlining the development of the sculpture’s design, including its scale, pose, and historical details such as a handkerchief in the back pocket and a transit box to replace a tree stump. The artist emphasized the significance of historical accuracy and proposed a location for the sculpture that would encourage pedestrian interaction. Council members praised the attention to detail in the artwork and discussed optimal placement to ensure visibility and tourist engagement. The final decision on the sculpture’s placement was deferred for further consideration.

The meeting also recognized the city’s success in securing a $120,000 grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for trails at James Archer Smith Park, with matching funds of $30,000 from the city’s budgeted impact fees. The grant was approved without opposition, and the council authorized the city manager to establish a budget and enter into an agreement for the project.

In a separate matter, the council approved two settlements. The first was with Stephanie McIntosh for $25,000 concerning a false arrest incident in 2015, and the second was a $275,000 settlement with Blake We for a work-related injury from 2007. Both settlements sought to resolve all claims and were passed with council approval after public comment periods.

A significant non-agenda issue arose from public comments made by Harold Ford, President of the South Dade Branch of the NAACP, concerning the firing of the city manager. Ford criticized the lack of checks and balances within the city’s government and suggested the city manager was removed without violating his contract, potentially creating a hostile work environment. He warned of close monitoring by the NAACP and the possibility of further action, including litigation. Councilwoman Jenifer N. Bailey and Councilwoman Erica G. Ávila were commended by Ford for addressing the unprofessional comments and potential workplace issues.

The council’s agenda also included routine matters such as a resignation and appointment to the Faith and Community-Based Advisory Board, commendations for a Black History Month event, and participation in a zoning hearing regarding a landfill site near residential areas.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Steven D. Losner
City Council Officials:
Sean L. Fletcher, Erica G. Ávila, Jenifer N. Bailey, Clemente Canabal, Tom Davis, Larry Roth

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