By: City of Doral
We are officially at the 100-day milestone since the Swearing-in of Doral’s first female Mayor, Christi Fraga. Since taking the oath of office, Mayor Christi Fraga has hit the ground running with the City Council to take steps to build a strong leadership team, restore transparency and accountability, improve communication, enhance public safety, and focus on policies that promote efficiency, resident involvement and small businesses growth.
To lead the team of dedicated City employees, Mayor Fraga, with the support of City Council brought back Mrs. Barbie Hernandez as City Manager. As a seasoned leader, Mrs. Hernandez has long history as a public servant, most of which was spent in the City of Doral, where she grew the parks system to the world-class caliber that it is today. The new City Manager has wasted no time in building an excellent team with over 30 new hires that, includes a new Police Chief and Deputy City Manager.
Mayor Fraga fully supported the hiring of the Doral Police Chief, Edwin Lopez, as he exhibits vast experience in community policing, innovative ideas, and a steadfast commitment to the safety of residents. There is now a greater presence of police officers in our streets, commercial areas, and communities, which has resulted in a 12% reduction in crimes. The department is energized and working hard with significant arrests being made in high-profile cases related to burglaries, narcotics, theft, and assault.
Transparency and accountability are key components to a good government, as such, Mayor Fraga focused on addressing decisions made by the previous administration, such as the elected official pensions, with the goal of protecting taxpayers. In February, a specialized pension attorney was hired to review the lifetime pensions approved in 2021. An update is expected within 60 days to repeal this decision and reallocate funds to projects that will benefit the public interest.
The Doral Parks Bond projects are one of those key projects of public interest. One of the top priorities was addressing the status of the projects and ensuring that the residents get the projects that they voted for. Following a public meeting in which the project team delivered a comprehensive update, the Mayor and Council took several actions to refocus and recommit to the original intent of the bond language while getting the projects completed in a fiscally responsible manner. For the highly anticipated build out of Doral Central Park, the commitment has been solidified for an opening timeline which will have Phase 2/3 completed during Summer 2024 and Phase 4, the final phase, completed by end of 2024. To increase transparency and community involvement in the bond process, the Mayor has appointed new Oversight Committee Members and is working with staff to host Bond Public Workshops. Additionally, she has contacted Miami-Dade County and the State of Florida to acquire potential funding to assist with completion of Doral Central Park and Pedestrian Bridge.
The Mayor’s goal to engage the community and invite them to be part of the conversation has led to increased accessibility of the public to her office through “Cafecitos with the Mayor” and regular HOA meetings. She has prioritized the feedback of populations like that of the senior citizens and special needs to learn how the City can best expand programs. “Mayor for a Day” is a new program that was launched to showcase and involve the youth in Doral. Our young residents is a group Mayor Fraga has always worked with to empower their voices ever since her time in Doral as a Councilwoman, as such, she has brought back the Youth Advisory Board.
Under Mayor Fraga’s new administration, new tools and resources have also been implemented to better serve the public like the new pilot program for an information resource office, “InfoDoral”, located on the Government Center’s 2nd floor, with staff to assist the community on a wide array of matters. Additionally, the Doral Building Department’s hours have been expanded to service the public on Fridays from 7 am to 1 pm.
Infrastructure is one of the City’s main priorities and once of the first things the Mayor has addressed. Under her leadership, the completion of several impactful projects was expedited to improve sidewalks, roads, driveways, and drainage system. The City continues to work on improving infrastructure in preparation for storms, heavy rains and traffic impacts, as a key component of the strategic plan.
An issue that has for many years affected the Doral community escalated when the Covanta Waste-to-Energy plant unexpectedly went up in flames. The City quickly activated necessary departments to respond to the incident and provide support to Miami-Dade County, the agency in charge of the plant and of the incident. Efforts were effectively deployed by the City administration, Doral Police Department, Office of Emergency Management and Public Affairs Department, that included handling road closures and keeping the residents informed through emergency alerts and outreach, which was a daily task alongside our partners at the County.
Mayor Fraga and City Council mobilized with several residents to attend the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners Meeting and implore them to find solutions on this issue affecting the quality of life and health of the Doral community, by moving Covanta outside of our city. The Commissioners subsequently voted to rescind their vote from last year that would have kept Covanta in our City. The City has started a petition on its website to gather signatures from residents that wish to see Covanta moved from Doral, additionally, experts are being hired to evaluate viable solutions.
The work has only just begun as City leadership continues to work with the community to keep improving Doral as the premier place to live, work, learn, play.