‘Sweet 15’ City celebrates 15 years of progress

Ever since Sunny Isles Beach incorporated 15 years ago in June 1997, residents have been enjoying the “sweet life.” And now, to celebrate 15 years of progressive initiatives creating a “World Class City,” the community is invited to enjoy a gala week of special events starting June 10 – but while everyone’s looking forward to all the festivities, let’s take a look back at some of the milestone municipal achievements made over the years that have really given Sunny Isles Beach cause to celebrate:

THE FIRST FIVE YEARS

Back in 1998, the late Mayor David Samson and members of the inaugural City Commission celebrated the first anniversary since Sunny Isles Beach incorporated in 1997 with a small cake at City Hall, operating out of rented space in an RK shopping center. Today the state-of-the-art Government Center building is just one magnificent landmark testifying to the city’s monumental success story.

In just the first five years following incorporation, Sunny Isles Beach quickly began transitioning from “rundown motel row” to “millionaire’s row” featuring luxurious developments now gracing the east side of Collins Avenue. During the first five years, the Commission also focused on perfecting the city’s Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Regulations; establishing a Police Department; and budgeting for drainage projects, infrastructure improvements, beautification projects and other beneficial community services.

2002 Milestones: The City Commission approves Sunny Isles Beach Land Development Regulations; groundbreaking ceremonies are held for the new Government Center building and Collins Avenue beautification project; the Dezer family and Donald Trump sign a joint venture agreement to commence development of Trump Towers; and the city launches its website www.sibfl.net.

2003 Milestones: Following the death of Mayor David Samson, Norman S. Edelcup assumes the Mayoral seat; the Sunny Isles Beach Sun honors the community’s brave men and women serving in the armed forces; the city’s streetscape is enhanced by uniform newspaper racks; the Sunny Isles Beach financial audit reflects continued prosperity; voters consider Charter Amendment questions; and in the February 2003 issue of South Florida CEO, the business magazine of Miami-Dade, Broward and the Palm Beaches, Sunny Isles Beach is featured in a glossy City Report impressing Chief Executive Officers reading all about the city’s success story.

2004 Milestones: The city’s new fleet of shuttle buses make their debut; the Mayor’s Advisory Council is established; and Sunny Isles Beach forms a Sister City relationship with Netanya, Israel.

On May 6, 2004, the City Commission passes an ordinance relating to the creation of a Town Center district. The zoning regulations outlined in the Town Center ordinance are intended to dictate the shape of residential and commercial development to come for the area encompassing the west side of Collins Avenue from 172nd Street to and inclusive of Sunny Isles Boulevard.

After the Town Center ordinance was approved in 2004, Mayor Norman Edelcup said, “It took us over one year to get here and we hope everyone is satisfied with the compromises reached…We’ve worked hard and diligently to try to create a better city and hope what we’re passing today becomes the vision we want to see for the future.”

2005-2006 Milestones: The new Sunny Isles Beach Government Center officially opens along with a post office and public library; the number of lifeguard stations for ocean and beach safety is doubled; on the west side of Collins, remodeling and refurbishing is well underway; enhanced architectural designs begin gracing the gateway to the city on Sunny Isles Boulevard; Town Center Park is “coming to town”; and the location for Pelican Community Park and the city’s future K-8 School is chosen, setting the stage for forging a true family community.

2007 Milestones: At a January 2007 commission meeting, the City Commission officially renames the active park on North Bay road between 181st and 182nd Streets “Pelican Community Park.” The “pocket park” located at 215-191st Terrace is named “Golden Shores Park.” A recently acquired four acre park site at 19200 Collins Avenue is named “Heritage Park.” And the park at 17200 Collins Avenue is officially named “Town Center Park.”

On February 26, 2007, the city also purchases a one-acre waterfront site located at 500 Sunny Isles Boulevard, eventually developed as Bella Vista Park. By 2007, the city had also created more than 20 beach access points – many named for citizens deserving of the honor for their civic contributions.

To help ensure the city’s security and safety on the Intracoastal waterways, on February 1, 2007 the Sunny Isles Beach Police Department christens the newest member of their fleet of boats, “The Grey Pearl” – a 25-foot sea ark commercial police vessel equipped with the quietest, most economical engines on the market, and the latest electronic equipment available.

On May 8, 2007, groundbreaking ceremonies are held for the new Sunny Isles Beach K-8 School, a cooperative venture between the city of Sunny Isles Beach and Miami-Dade County Public Schools; and the official opening is scheduled for August 2008.

In 2007, local historian, professor and noted author Seth H. Bramson’s book debuts about the city’s history entitled “From Sandbar to Sophistication, the Story of Sunny Isles Beach”; and during the city’s 10th anniversary celebration on June 16, 2007, a special dedication honoring the founder and creator of Sunny Isles, Harvey Baker Graves is held and the mangrove within Town Center Park is named “The Harvey Baker Graves Mangrove Reserve.”

An important electoral process also takes place in November 2007 when Lewis Thaler runs un-opposed for re-election as Commissioner; and George “Bud” Scholl runs un-opposed to win his seat as a Commissioner. After 10 years of community service and serving as a founder and Commissioner of Sunny Isles Beach, Danny Iglesias retires from office effective December 5, 2007.

In December 2007, the City Commission also announces the formation of a publicprivate partnership between the city and Dr. Robert Cornfeld, owner of the Newport Beach Resort Hotel. The purpose of the partnership is to restore the historic Newport Pier originally constructed in 1936 and designated as an historic site in 1982.

2008 Milestones: The new Sunny Isles Beach School opens its doors to approximately 1,100 eager K-8 grade students on August 20, 2008; the city also celebrates the opening of Pelican Community Park on August 23, 2008; and the city’s first Jazz Festival is held October 17-19, 2008 – becoming an annual tradition ever since.

2009 Milestones: During 2009, the city focuses on expanding parks and green space with construction of Heritage Park getting underway; renovations to Sen. Gwen Margolis Park are completed; and more land is purchased for the expansion and development of parks on Sunny Isles Boulevard and the south end of the city.

In 2009, new landscaping and streetscapes for entrances to the city at Sunny Isles Boulevard and the Lehman Causeway are completed; a ribbon cutting ceremony is held at the SIB K-8 School; the Sunny Isles Beach Visitor Center opens at Government Center; and a groundbreaking ceremony is held for Heritage Park.

2010 Milestones: A Sunny Isles Beach general election is held on November 2, 2010 and Mayor Norman Edelcup is reelected for a second term. Following the departure of Commissioners Gerry Goodman and Roslyn Brezin due to term limits, new Commissioner Jeanette Gatto is sworn in on November 18, 2010 and new Commissioner Isaac Aelion is sworn in on December 16, 2010.

 In 2010, to help provide the best educational opportunities and ensure “sunny futures,” the Sunny Isles Beach City Commission approves a resolution establishing a College Scholarship Program for high school students who have been residing in the city for at least one year.

2011 Milestones: Heritage Park is dedicated on June 18, 2011 with a ceremony honoring veterans who served America and commissioners who have served the city; Mayor Norman Edelcup is honored on September 21, 2011 when Miami-Dade County Public Schools renames the Sunny Isles Beach K-8 as the Norman S. Edelcup SIB K-8 School. In 2011, the school also celebrates receiving an “A Grade” three years in a row since opening – exemplifying the commitment shared by students, parents, school and city leaders to achieve the highest levels of academic achievement.

2012 Continues ‘History of Prosperity’

Ever since Sunny Isles Beach incorporated in 1997, the City Commission and members of city staff have been committed to drafting fiscally responsible budgets with the goal to maintain the highest level of services along with the lowest possible property tax rates. As a consequence of increased property values, this year, the city was able to keep its tax rate steady and unchanged – and still has one of the lowest tax rates in Miami- Dade County.

In 1997, when Sunny Isles Beach became a newly incorporated city and residents were looking forward to receiving higher levels of service above and beyond what was previously provided by Miami-Dade County, the tax rate for fiscal year 1997/1998 was $2.683 per $1,000 of taxable assessed value. Today, the property tax rate for the 2011/2012 fiscal year is only slightly higher – $2.8860 – and virtually everywhere you look around Sunny Isles Beach, the ongoing quest to make the city “first rate” is more evident than ever. Expressing the sentiments of Mayor Norman Edelcup and members of the City Commission, the late, great Bill Lone said it best while providing Sunny Isles Beach updates to business and community leaders: “We are appreciative of our growth and proud of our city’s accomplishments. Those of us affiliated with the city truly celebrate Sunny Isles Beach!”

‘WORLD CLASS FESTIVITIES’

The city’s 15th anniversary celebration kicks off Sunday, June 10 with the “International Olympics” and continues with special events including a City Scavenger Hunt, “Taste of Sunny Isles Beach” culinary extravaganza, and the main event – Sunday June 17 when Samson Oceanfront Park will feature food, rides, games and entertainment highlighted by renowned jazz artist Nicole Henry. For more information about this milestone, world-class celebration phone: 305-792- 1706.

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