Coral Gables Commission, university discuss partnership

City of Coral Gables Commission met with University of Miami administration Tuesday in a public meeting as part of the Development Agreement that was passed in 2010.

The Development Agreement was intended to engage in a better rapport between the city and the university in regards to the welfare of Gables citizens and the UM’s community. The agreement lays out campus improvements, and Gables citizens can take advantage of the university’s cultural and athletic activities.

As part of the agreement, Gables officials agreed to meet with UM Board of Trustees to update each other on the program’s progress.

Trustee Leonard Abess described the agreement as “critical for all of us.”

On UM’s part, President Donna E. Shalala, Joe Natoli and Board of Trustees members attended. For the city, Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason, City Manager Pat Salerno and city commissioners were present.

Among the discussed updates, Natoli, UM vice president for business and finance, described the effect of UM’s Mobility Plan. Traffic in residential areas was reduced to 28 percent, from 2011 to the present. There was also a 37 percent average reduction in peak traffic volumes near residential areas from 1992 to 2013.

Natoli also reviewed the university’s infrastructure projects like the finished construction of the Student Activities Center (SAC), the Schwartz Athletic Center and the Neuroscience Building and Health Annex located next to the Cox Science Center.

Salerno then discussed improvements in the city, which include seven additional police officers and various renovations to roads. Gables is competing against 13 other cities in the United Nations-endorsed LivCom Awards that recognize the Most Livable City.

Though the university and the city praised each other’s efforts throughout the meeting, Salerno shared one concern: the lack of onion rings at the Rat.

After the meeting, the Rat added an item to the menu as a special called the SalernORINGS.

“We’re happy to revive the onion rings item on the Rat menu, and dub them ‘SalernORINGS’ in honor of our esteemed alumnus and City Manager for our home city of Coral Gables, Pat Salerno,” said Patricia Whitely, UM vice president for Student Affairs.