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Library Deal Reached, Vote Next Week

After two years of legal wrangling, a deal to rebuild the Key Biscayne Library is going forward and faces a final approval vote by the Miami-Dade County Commission Oct. 5. The agreement paves the way for a new $11 million, two-story library building that would replace the 40-year-old structure adjacent to the Key Colony condominium complex. 

Construction could start in 2023, said Library Director Ray Baker, after the designs are finalised and the project is put out to bid. 

“I’m very happy it’s over,” said David McDanal, the president of the Key Colony Homeowners’ Association.  

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The renovation was on hold because condo leaders filed a legal action to intervene in a court procedure initiated by the County, citing concerns over traffic and sight lines. The County was seeking to have a portion of an old deed restriction invalidated so it could move forward. But a judge granted the Key Colony Homeowners’ Association motion, and so the renovation plan stalled. 

County Commissioner Raquel Regalado took up the project, setting meetings with County library officials and the condo’s new leadership, led by McDanal. She arranged meetings with Baker, the library director, and condo residents. 

“I am absolutely thrilled that we were able to work with Key Colony and our fantastic library system to come to a settlement that everybody can be proud of,” Regalado said in a statement. 

“Eleven million sweetens the deal,” McDanal said, who praised Regalado and Baker for making multiple presentations to residents. “They had put some thought into Key Colony when they were considering it.” He noted, however, the settlement does not address traffic issues.

The settlement provides that a future library will be no more than two stories tall. It requires consultation with condo leaders about design plans, but notably, it does not give Key Colony any right of approval or veto. The Homeowners’ Association also conceded that the County need not be bound by an architectural review committee provision in the deed. However another restriction — that the parcel only be used for a library — remains intact.

The next legal step, Baker said, is for the judge to grant the County’s original motion allowing it to proceed. He said floor plans for the library are in the design phase and will be shared with the community when complete.

The Association had spent upwards of $40,000 to intervene in the case. “It’s a good thing. We got our say,” McDanal said. 

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Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.

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