OPA-LOCKA — City of Opa-locka Mayor Myra L. Taylor proclaimed that “the city is financially stable” during her State of the City Address, Friday, Jan. 27.
A large white tent was erected several feet in front of the Moorish architecture of the Opa-locka City Hall, where city residents and local elected officials walked a red carpet to hear “Lady” Taylor’s second annual address.
“I am honored to be the official face of Opa-tisha-woka-locka,” Taylor began, using the Native American name for the city, which means “a big island covered with many trees and swamps.”
Prior to Taylor’s appearance, the crowd was treated to performances by harpist Lady of Harp and the Miami Carol City High School Marching Band.
Invocations were offered in English, Spanish and Creole by three different ministers.
Before her speech, Taylor, dressed in her signature color red, handed out small plaques to family members and representatives of the seven mayors who previously served terms in the city, including Albert Tresvant, the city’s first African-American mayor, and Helen Miller, the first female mayor.
“I want to acknowledge those who came before me,” said Taylor.
In her address last year Taylor introduced the Opa-locka Express Train as the theme of her tenure, a way to monitor progress.
“The train is fueled and charged by your support,” said Taylor before asking the audience to shout “Go train go!”
In a speech entitled “Staying the Course,” Taylor discussed changes to the city, which include the addition of the Opa-locka Express Circulator, a shuttle service that began in February of 2011, and the revitalization of Magnolia North, known among residents as the Triangle.
Under the guidance of the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation, founded 30 years ago by Willie Logan, a former city mayor, Magnolia North will have a complete facelift.
More than $28 million is being invested in the area. Abandoned buildings, lots and metal barricades are to be replaced by affordable housing, public artwork, a soccer field and tot lots with funding from the National Endowment of the Arts and Habitat for Humanity.
Taylor also expressed pride in the fact that during the latest round of budget cuts the city was able to avoid laying off employees by making a few adjustments.
Those changes included eliminating 11 unfilled positions and cutting the salaries of employees who earned $50,000 or more annually by 4 percent.
In spite of the impending changes, Taylor said that the city still has room for growth, with plans of expanding its borders south to Northwest 95th Street, east to North Miami and West to Miami Lakes.
“I want our city to be recognized by our contemporaries as an organized city, with purpose, persistence, passion and a plan,” said Taylor. “No longer will we just be in a room, but sitting at the table of decision making for the well-being of our community.”
Opa-locka is home to more than 16,000 residents and 1,500 businesses in a 4.2-mile radius. Prior to being elected mayor in November of 2010, Taylor served as a city commissioner. She has been married for 41 years to Bishop John H. Taylor, and together they have eight children and several grandchildren.
For more than 30 years Taylor and her husband have owned and operated the Vankara Educational Center which provides a variety of educational services for children and their families.
In the conclusion of her speech, Taylor cited Dr. Seuss’ book Green Eggs and Ham as an analogy to encourage her city’s residents to “recognize who we are and appreciate our uniqueness.”
“Some people judge Opa-locka on what they’ve never experienced,” said Taylor. “They don’t know how good we are until they really get to know us.”
Photo: Opa-locka Mayor Myra L. Taylor