After 20 years as a city, what’s next for Doral?



By: Diana Bello Aristizabal

Para leer en Español

On June 10, the City of Doral celebrated its twentieth anniversary. For this reason, even though the celebrations are already over, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to highlight its accomplishments and assess the challenges that lie ahead in the coming years for a city that continues to expand and improve its service offering.

Christi Fraga

“We should be very proud of the city that we have created. Our success is not owed a single person but to everyone who has been part of its history, that is, elected officials, residents, community advocates, the media, and immigrants,” said the current mayor, Christi Fraga, in an interview for this publication.

Fraga, who has lived in the area for 22 years before it was incorporated as a municipality in 2003, says the city went from being a destination where it was difficult to make a social life or cultural plans or even go through all levels of school, since it didn’t have a high school at the beginning, to become a place where you can do everything, as indicated in its motto: ‘Live, work, play and learn’.

“It is very difficult for a city to achieve that. Now we have a vibrant nightlife, well-performed public, and charter schools, in part due to the involvement of families, and a wide range of businesses and associations,” she says.

However, there is still a long way to go. Going forward, the main challenge will be to continue to maintain a low tax rate while offering the highest level of service.

“I think we should work on creating a better balance between the commercial and residential sections, on improving the public transportation system to reduce traffic, and on providing more information and resources to residents,” she says.

When asked how she sees the city in 10 years, the mayor says she pictures it as a place with a very good infrastructure in which residents actively use the public transportation system, with a tech hub that provides more employment opportunities, many more areas annexed to the city and a more united and safe community. “In the short term we will see redevelopment and possibly an FIU campus that we are negotiating.”

But since this city has had the unconditional support of its residents in every step of the way, we also wanted to know the opinion of some of them about the evolution of Doral and the challenges ahead. Everyone came together for the most recent 20th anniversary celebration event where the top 20 local businesses were recognized.


Sustained growth, entertainment, and quality education

Carlos Sabando

For Carlos Sabando, who arrived in Doral in 1992 in the midst of Hurricane Andrew, the main attraction of the city at that time and that still remains today is that it’s the perfect place for family oriented and people of faith like him.

Isabel Musolino, who has raised her three daughters in this community together with her husband Stephen Musolino Jr., owner of Casa Linda, shares his opinion. “This city has everything for children, entertainment, and the best schools. We really don’t need to leave in order to meet our needs, as happened many years ago, and that is one of its main achievements.”

“This used to look like a jungle back in the days, the 107 Ave. didn’t even exist. Instead, now we have many supermarkets, pharmacies, shops, almost the best schools in the state and one of the best Police departments in the country. We are now in a privileged situation in such a way that residential properties have been valued,” says Sabando, a chemical engineer who works in the life insurance and real estate businesses.

Lillian Marcano y Lissette Rodríguez

A similar point of view is held by Lillian Marcano, owner of World of Kids Academy along with Lissette Rodríguez, who after 20 years of living in this community says that Doral today is nothing like the one, she knew when she first arrived. “In the beginning the city was not even a quarter of what it is now, before people only came to work, while today there are restaurants, bars, businesses and parks.”

Marisa Lorena Greco

For Marisa Lorena Greco, who works at Little Hands On Learning, in addition to being a very family-oriented place that has undoubtedly experienced exponential growth, it has an ideal location and a warm and inclusive spirit.

“I moved to Doral from Key Biscayne in February 2002 because my husband worked for an airline at the airport, which made me decide on this location. Over the years I continued to stay because everything feels very close to home,” says Marisa, this time not referring to the location but to its community vibe and the way people treat each other.

But in addition to all of the above, for Stephen Musolino Jr., of Casa Linda, it is worth noting the controlled growth that the city has managed to reach. “We haven’t had overgrowth as it happens in other communities that overbuild out of greed and end up harming the quality of life of its inhabitants.”

In this sense, Stephen believes that there is a fair balance between residential and commercial development. “The opposite would create more traffic and congestion, so I am satisfied with this fact, and I hope we can maintain the same growth pattern,” says this Doral resident since 1999.

On the other hand, he highlights as a positive aspect that most of the communities are gated, which makes him feel safer. “This keeps crime rates low,” Musolino says, adding that he also finds attractive that it is the second-lowest millage rate city in Miami-Dade County.

Regarding the things that Doral should improve, Carlos Sabando states we could have a more robust cultural and sports offer. “We are on the right track, but I think we need to focus more in the arts, cultural and sports offering to be able to compete with cities like New York or Coral Gables”.

Stephen Musolino, for his part, believes that zoning regulations must be improved. “This is a small city that should focus on taking care of what it already has,” he says.



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