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The only place for Coconut Grove, FL News, Views & Opinions - Sunlight is the best disinfectant

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Another Grove Playhouse meeting is Thursday

The county sent out background materials regarding the Coconut Grove Playhouse meeting which is Thursday, October 19 at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium. I'm not sure why this is not inside the Grove, but that bothers me.  What's ironic is that this meeting would have been held inside the playhouse in better times.

So these are the current plans with changes made since the April meeting.  There have been other plans and ideas, but the City's HEP Board approved the county's plans. I really feel that this should have been voted on by the public. You know, have a bunch of plans, whittle it down to three and vote. 

This image above does not bother me except for the buildings all around the playhouse, but that's progress, I guess. It sort of reminds me of those old photos you see where there is one house standing or one building in 1909 or something, and then you see today's image of the same space and it's all high rises and the original building is gone or dwarfed.

The main issue is the main theater inside and that's going to be an on-going fight for a long time. Save it or rebuild it? That's the never ending debate.



The meeting is from 6 to 8 pm. Please RSVP here.

The material can be found here.

And the design renderings and drawings can be seen here.

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Welcome back to the Grove, Grovetoberfest!

Grovetoberfest came back to Coconut Grove on Saturday, they ended up at Miami Marine Stadium for a year. But now it's back in the Grove, but with a new and probably better location - Regatta Park.


As usually is the case, thousands came out for beer, music, food and lots of fun on a beautiful day. I can't help but smile when I look at these photos. This is what Coconut Grove is all about.
BizBash Florida has consistently put the festival on their Top Events list, and The Wall Street Journal included it in their coverage of iconic things to do in Miami. Recently, Yelp! placed Grovetoberfest and its sister craft beer festival, Sprung!, on their list of Top Ten Festivals. 


Grovetoberfest continues to be one of the top craft beer festivals in the country and the top festival in Florida. It attracts 6,500 beer enthusiasts and hundreds of breweries offering over 400 different brews. Many beer companies have used Grovetoberfest as a launching pad for new beers and even new brew houses. “A lot of brewers working here in Miami started off at Grovetoberfest; either as homebrewers or breweries in planning. The festival was the first time for them to meet the masses, and that’s something we’re very proud of,” explained Tony Abelo, head honcho.








Photos courtesy Grovetoberfest

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Monday, October 16, 2017

We have a new Police Commander

Our current Grove Police Commander Mike Gonzalez has been promoted to the rank of Major. Effective Wednesday October 18, he will assume new responsibilities in the police department and Coconut Grove will have a new Police Commander named Chiquita F. Thomas-Butler. Welcome to Commander Butler and congrats to Major Gonzalez.


Commander Butler
Commander Butler has 20 years of law enforcement experience all of which have been with the City of Miami Police Department. She is a proud graduate of Miami Norland Senior High, class of 1992. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership, and is currently preparing to pursue her PhD in Theology. She is also a graduate of the prestigious Southern Police Institute, Command Officer Development Course class #73. 

During her career, Commander Butler has had the opportunity to work in various capacities throughout the agency to include: the Problem Solving Team in Coconut Grove, Neighborhood Resource Officer in Coconut Grove, Criminal Investigations, and the Training Unit. 

Commander Butler has over 35 years of Martial Arts experience. She is a four time Florida Black Belt Association Champion and a two time Florida National Champion. She is also well trained in Armed Confrontations and Hand to hand combat. Commander Butler is also deeply rooted in the community and believes in serving the City of Miami’s residents as well as Miami Dade County at large to the best of her abilities. She is the president of her own mentoring program, Butler’s Angels, and serves as a member of the Coconut Grove Negro Woman’s Club, and is a past member of the Miami Bahamas Goombay Festival in Coconut Grove, Incorporated. She has been deemed an Unsung Hero by the Miami SOL and the Helen Bentley Family Health Center, Inc. of Coconut Grove. She was also honored as Law Enforcement Officer of the year by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. Commander Butler still considers it an honor and privilege to dedicate herself to serve the community.

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Check out the Arbor, Coconut Grove's Boutique Eco-Living Community
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Barktoberfest featured at The Spillover

The Spillover now has stone crabs and oysters and they are presenting Barktoberfest on Halloween, Tuesday, October 31 from 4 to 7 pm.

Activities include:  
-Dog Costume Contest.
-Trick-for-a-Treat Contest. Best dog trick performed wins!
-Collecting donations of dog food, dog beds, leashes etc. to benefit our local shelters.
-Photo booth w/ tons of fun props.
-Pumpkin painting for kids. 

The Spillover is at the Mayfair Promendade.

And at their sister location. Kush Wynwood, they are featuring a Beer Float Party on Friday, October 27. 

It's an ice cream party with craft beer! Sweet Melody Ice Cream is featured, try one of these epic floats, which includes Founders Green Zebra Watermelon Gose paired with Key Lime Pie Ice Cream, Southern Tier Salted Caramel paired with Salted Caramel Ice Cream and MIA Kaptain Kush paired with Doughnut Cream Ice Cream.

Kush is located at 2003 N. Miami Avenue, Miami.   

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Is Bonobos Guideshop the wave of the future?

I have a friend who has a retail store here in the Grove. He brought up the Bonobos concept to me. "Will people be willing to order in the store and then walk out empty handed?" He asked? Who knows?

What he did tell me that I didn't know was that Wal-Mart bought Bonobos. For $310 million! So I assume Wal-Mart knows what they are doing. Wal-Mart also bought Jet.com and that is where Bonobos will be sold, other than the Guideshop and on their own website.

The rent on that corner is about $18,000 a month. That's a lot of money for a store that has no actual merchandise. But they do have a store that serves as a large billboard right in the center of town. Lots of cars pass there, especially during rush hour in the morning and evening.

True story: A guy walked in to buy a tie, he had gotten the tie he was wearing dirty, and he needed a new tie for an event. He found one he loved at the Grove Bonobos, but he couldn't take it with him! He needed it then and there.

My friend says that if this is the way that retail is going, then maybe there is hope for Mom & Pop stores which will have merchandise at the ready - leaving the larger stores to deal with the catalog sort of way.

I do like Bonobos but every time I purchase clothing online, it doesn't fit right and I am not a returner, so it ends up being a waste of money and something just thrown in the corner, never worn. With this concept, I can see the merchandise and get my sizes right and then whenever I want to order online in the future, I'll have the perfect fit. 


Bonobos is sort of a mixture of Service Merchandise and Amazon. Remember Service Merchandise and similar stores? You would order things from the catalog in the store, but you would receive the item up front at the registers and pay and leave. In Bonobos case, you order the merchandise and have it shipped to you.

Which reminds me of so many old tv shows and movies. The ladies would walk into a store, make a purchase and it would be delivered to them by messenger the same day. Ever see that? It would arrive within an hour or two, but the ladies did not have to walk out carrying the things they bought. 

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Mad Hatter presents the Come As Thou Art Gala

They are gearing up for The Mad Hatter Arts Festival, scheduled for November 18 and 19 this year at The Barnacle. 

To raise money for the event, there is a "Fun" Fundraiser for the festival - its called "Come as Thy Art" and it is a Costume Gala. This is Saturday, October 21 from 9 to 11:30 pm.

Come dressed as your favorite artist or art inspired theme, and proceeds 
go as donations to Mad Hatter Arts Festival.

The gala is at the Boswell Mourot Gallery (3162 Commodore Plaza). 

There will be drinks, food, music and a costume contest, and hopefully a silent auction.
Tickets are $35 on Eventbrite and $50 at the door. www.comeasthyart.eventbrite.com 

But first, there is a Cocktail Reception at the new condo site for Glasshaus at 3156 SW 27th Avenie on Friday October 20 from 7 to 9 pm, featuring art work by Hans Feyerabend. 
RSVP to naylet.jw@gmai.com.

For more info, please call 305-442-6866.

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Village Council Candidates Forum - Courtney Omega

Nine seats are up for election on November 7, for the Coconut Grove Village Council. 15 people are running for the nine seats. The Grapevine is giving candidates a chance to tell their story as to why they deserve your vote.  We have asked all the candidates the same five questions and we'll post the results here as they come in. 

COURTNEY OMEGA

GRAPEVINE: Why do you feel you would be a good Village Council Member?
Courtney Omega

COURTNEY: I believe I would be a good Village council addition because distinct  opportunities.  I have been blessed to experience different community cultures across the U.S. i have lived in several states as well as communities with various backgrounds and demographics. Community Service and civic engagement has been a family legacy as my grandmother was a two times commissioner and two times Mayor in Daytona Beach, Fl. Service is first choice but 2nd nature.

G: What would you like to accomplish during your time on the Council? Objectives? Projects?

C: One of my primary goals is to get more involvement in the civic engagement process for residents. Across coconut grove, there is a severe lack of the younger demographic's presence. I think there should be more of a concentrated effort to engage residents between 18 - 45. There is an initiative I have been working on called the Young Grove Alliance. I would hope with consensus from the council, we could organize efforts in broadening our reach and partnering for an impactful effect. Secondly, I plan to spend more time executing proactive plans to build accessible housing according to demographic sensitive data.
Improving transit and improving the areas to be even more walkable is also tantamount.

G: What is your favorite part of Coconut Grove?

C: Tough question! Too much to choose from.  While truly all of Coconut Grove is a treasure worth protecting, I definitely love my Florida Avenue home and the history of Florida Avenue. I also love  that it is truly in the center of the Grove. I'm close to everything. Whether Swimming at Virrick Park, making a quick run to CVS, lunching at the last carrot or taking in cultural activities at KROMA, I'm a few steps away. This is awesome for me as I do not own a car. I love the flexibility the area offers.

G: What is your least favorite part of Coconut Grove?

C: speeding through our quaint community concerns me. There absolutely needs to be a sidewalk built at McDonald and Florida. Often times while dropping my children to school at Coconut Grove Elementary, we are forced to share the road with cars. Also the speeding down McDonald to and from Grand is incredibly alarming.  One morning alone, two cars flicked off my children and myself as we crossed  McDonald one morning.

Grand Avenue has unfortunately become an eyesore however I am sure with implementing strategic business development, we can regain the appeal and luster of Grand Avenue of old.

G: How long have you lived in the Grove? Where are you from? What drew you here?


C: Though I was born in Daytona Beach, Florida the moment I met my ex husband while in my first year of college, a traveling and whirlwind adventure was born. During our marriage we lived in Arizona, Philadelphia, Virginia and North Carolina. I like to say i didn't choose Coconut Grove, the Grove chose me. As a divorced mom of two, after our marriage ended and with Kendall now being a memory, I set to find a place that was close to work at the Miracle Mile Theatre. After staying a weekend at the Mayfair, I was immediately enthralled with the cultural homes, the island vibe and the easy commute. I couldn't believe this was a place to live here in Miami. I'd been in South Florida for three years and thought communities like these were sweet dreams nestled in novels and Hollywood screenplays. Though my father is 100% Bahamian and we grew up loving conch fritters and conch salad, I didn't know what the culture truly meant. Upon being gifted "Forebearance" by Thelma Gibson, I dove in with thirsty eyes and a hungry vision.  After reading and studying and assessing,  I decided to figure out where I would be most effective,  in my home of Coconut Grove on a council that boasted such members of Coconut Grove's legacy.  I'm absolutely looking forward to serving in this capacity.  From community to culture and even the faith based presence, the Grove deserves to be resurrected,  respected and protected.  I'm here to serve residents,  neighbors, business owners, parents and our youth.  I am here because of the vision laid out by giants before me.

VC-Candidates-2017

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

BINGO at the Grove Woman's Club

It's BINGO time at the Coconut Grove Woman's Club again. Join in on Thursday, October 19 from 6:30 pm.

Admission is $5 for adults, free admission for children under 12. Cards are $1.00 each, minimum is five cards.

Free refreshments and snacks. Cash bar. 

Gift certificates and new exciting prizes. The Last game will be $1000 cash wtih full BINGO card of 46 numbers called.

The Club is at 2985 South Bayshore Drive. For info: 305-446-2909. All proceeds benefit upkeep of the Woman's Club.

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BOGO tickets for Viewing Vizcaya films


With the support of the Vizcaya family, the estate has come back strong from Hurricane Irma. As a thank you, enjoy a limited time offer for Buy One, Get One tickets with code "FILM" to the first community program of the fall season - the final edition of Viewing Vizcaya. General admission is $18 per ticket, but get two for the price of one here.


Vizcaya’s beloved movie night tradition is going out with a bang! The Centennial and final edition of this community film series takes place on Wednesday, October 18, with a selection of four films shown simultaniously. Take your pick with films of all genres, from horror and comedy.

Complimentary snacks will be served along with beer from Concrete Beach Brewery, all included in the ticket price. 

Doors open at 7:00 pm and movies start at sunset (approx. 7:15 pm) All movies will run simultaneously. Must arrive by 8:00 pm to be admitted to the program. Late arrivals and no-shows will not be refunded. Lawn chairs and related equipment not permitted on property.

THE MOVIES
The featured films all have a connection to the estate’s history and includes: 

-- House on Haunted Hill (1959) will be shown in the Courtyard, complete with an interview by Vincent Price, star of the film, at Vizcaya in 1967. The location will be decorated by event production company Unearthed Vintage.

-- Tony Rome features Ol' Blue Eyes himself (Frank Sinatra) and was filmed at Vizcaya in 1966. It will be screened on the East Terrace. Please bring your blankets.

-- On the west lawn, we'll show Absence of Malice (1981) with Sally Field and Paul Newman, filmed at Vizcaya in 1980. This space will have chairs and benches, but feel free to bring blankets for added cushion.

-- Iron Man 3 (2013) will be screened on the Garden Mound. The Casino housed in this located served as the hideout of the villain in the movie and will also serve as our backdrop for the evening. Please bring blankets.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

His argument is 'disingenuous and short sighted'

Mr. Snyder's argument that somehow the current NCD language should NOT be changed because it is working is disingenuous and short sighted.  

1. The current language has NOT worked at all for many years (walk down your blocks and count how many white boxes you see) until many neighbors, including Mr. Snyder and myself and many  others, started showing up at commission meetings, at the City Attorney's office, doing Public Records requests and actually READING the NCD.  The seminal moment in the turning of the tides was the denial of the BAttersea Woods plat.  After that big uproar the city decided it was time to "change" how they were interpreting the NCD and institute some "CRITERIA" to how warrants would be processed and ultimately how lot splits would or wouldn't be allowed . Make no mistake that Lot splitting IS currently ALLOWED in the NCD 3.6.g.1  states "No building sites in existence prior to September 24, 2005 shall be diminished in size except by Warrant, subject to the criteria specified in Article 4, Table 12 Design Review Criteria. Mr Snyder never quotes this part of the current NCD code but it is CRITICAL to the issue at hand. 

After Battersea Woods,  Planning and Zoning created an "internal memo" that was not codified but allowed the administrator to direct staff to put in place these criteria when reviewing warrant requests for lot diminishment. I have seen the memo and those criteria are a.)  Identify abutting lot frontages b) identify the average lot sizes in a 500 ft radius b) look at the underlying plats. From there P&Z  would determine along with criteria of Article 4 Table 12 if the lot split met the criteria and thus approve or deny. Mr. Snyder points to the two denials that have occurred recently (Avocado and Loquat) as reason now to make "No Change" to the current code because it is working.  Yes it is working but I for one vehemently disagree that we should lnot codify these criteria (as Coral Gables has) and leave it up to the descretion of the Planning and Zoning administrator. Mr. Snyder feels that the residents should simply "trust" that this memo will be followed without challenge or change. I disagree and would prefer those criteria (and others) are CODIFIED so that residents, developers and everyone is CLEAR on how this law works and will be implemented. 

2.) My Snyder continually refers to Coral Gables Code as NOT allowing lot splits -again very wrong.  Again, he quotes only one portion of the ordinance and leaves out the rest. Lot splits ARE allowed in Coral Gables.     However, what is different there is that they have...wait for it!....you guessed it codified criteria Article 3-206 Building Site Determination Pg 48-49 of the code (please read it for yourselves)  http://coralgables.com/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentID=7951lays out the very process for developers to use for a LOT SEPARATION and the very specific criteria that must be met in order to gain approval to, as Coral Gables words it, to "create a new building site"  - their version of splitting lots. These criteria are remarkably similar to the ones in the inter-office memo at the City of Miami Planning and Zoning dept as well as the initial new lot splitting language submitted to PZAB on July 31. 

Grove 2030, Grove Watch, Coconut Grove Village Council reps and others have been working for over a year to push the city to make changes.  And contrary to Mr.Snyder's accusations that somehow Grove 2030 has an agenda to urbanize Coconut Grove, our recommended changes on Feb 22 do exactly the opposite as Mr. Snyder himself acknowledges by saying there are some good ideas in the document.  For clarification the only reason they did NOT address lot-plitting originally(because it was so difficult to get consensus even in our own group on what those restrictions and clarifications should so we instead asked the city to come up with language to CLARIFY the code so that we could discuss  and review in public.  

Mr. Snyder has a right to his opinion on which language is better but making arguments without properly citing the facts leads one to believe he is either disingenuous or simply hasn't bothered to do his homework. 

I sincerely hope that all residents of the Grove can work together to come up with common sense solutions to the bigger problem of protecting the Character of the Grove. I can guarantee one thing, that those who are enjoying the loopholes a unclear and loose code provides must be reading all these posts of neighbor pitted against neighbor and loving the fact that we are getting bogged down with a silly back and forth.

Let's show up Saturday ready to work together. Come with your questions your comments your input and decide for yourselves, arm yourself with knowledge, read the code, ask questions, stay engaged. 

Johannah Brown
Coconut Grove

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Saint Kieran's Church is throwing a picnic on Sunday

Saint Kieran's Church celebrates Saint Kieran's Feast Day with a Family Fair and Picnic on Sunday, October 15.

There will be food, music, drinks and a ministry exhibiton. The event is from 11 am to 3 pm.

Tickets will be sold at the giftshop for $10 per person, which includes food, games and entertainment. T shirts designed by the youth for the fair also will be on sale for $10 each.

Saint Kieran is at 3605 South Miami Avenue.

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Distorted view of proposed NCD changes?

The letter to the editor of the Coconut Grove Grapevine by David Villano defending the current proposal amending ORDINANCE NO. 13114 presents a distorted view of the proposed changes to NCD code. One almost wonders if Mr. Villano read the proposed amendment. 

The proposed amendment would gut the code not strengthen it. The current language in the code which this amendment would remove is modeled on, and very similar to, Coral Gables code. It has been tested in the courts dating back to 1978 where justice Kehoe  stated: "The obvious intent of the Ordinance was to prevent developers, etc., from coming into Coral Gables, tearing down existing residences on large lots, and then building more residences on smaller lots"  (perhaps this should be added to the existing language so that everyone gets it) . See Holladay vs. Coral Gables 1980 3rd district court of appeals where the court found the critical language of the code to be within the purview of a municipality’s police (zoning) power.

Grove 2030 submitted to the commissioner's office a draft of proposed changes to the NCD overlay zoning regulations on February 22, 2017. That draft contained none of the changes in the current amendment proposal. That draft did not change the critical language in the NCD code which the current amendment would strike. While our board did not agree with all in the Feb. 22 proposal it did contain  some good ideas to which Mr. Villano refers in his letter to the editor. None of those ideas are in the current proposed amendment. 

This is the language to be stricken by the current amendment:

Wherever an existing single-family residence or lawful accessory building(s) or structure(s) is located on one or more platted lots or portions thereof, such lots shall thereafter constitute only one building site and

Here is the language from the Gables code "Wherever there may exist a single family residence or duplex building which was heretofore constructed on a building site containing one or more platted lots or portion thereof, said building site shall not hereafter be reduced or diminished in any manner and if said single family residence or duplex building is demolished or removed therefrom, no permit shall be issued for the construction of more than one such building on said building site."

The proposed amendment begins  "The intent of the NCD-3 is to preserve and retain a variety of Lot sizes. However there are property owners who want to diminish ( lot-split) an existing building site or Lot; therefore, the Planning Department has created minimum standards and criteria that must be adhered to."  (These are actually a smorgasbord of options developers and their attorneys and others can use to split building sites).

While people may want to buy large lots or large multi-lot sites, and split them into multiple small lots, that is against the law. See Holladay vs. Coral Gables 1980 3rd district court of appeals. In this case the court upheld and applied the critical language in the Coral Gables code. This established the standing law for the past 37 years. Let’s not strike the language. Let’s not let greed destroy the nature and character of our neighborhoods.

I am not a developer, realtor, real estate investor, and have no financial conflict of interest in this matter. Our Organization is grass roots. Our Goals do not include Urbanizing the single family districts of Coconut Grove, as it appears the goals of Grove 2030 do. How many members of the group which drafted this proposed amendment (not the 2/22/17 proposal) can say the same?

If you don't want lot-splitting (AKA diminishment), with the associated destruction of Canopy, try to show up and speak up at the workshop Saturday 9:30 am-12:30 pm at 4000 Grand Avenue.

John Snyder
President,
South Grove Neighborhood Association Inc.
savethegrove16@gmail.com

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Two NCD workshops are coming up this month

Just a reminder: Two City of Miami Planning workshops are coming up regarding potential revisions to NCDs, Neighborhood Conservation Districts 2 and 3, both in Coconut Grove.

Local input is valuable in helping the city collection information that will shape modifications to existing regulations.

Hate those trees being killed? Hate multiple houses on a single lot? Hate high rises? This is your chance to speak up.

The first workshop is on Saturday, October 14 from 9:30 am until 12:30 pm.

The second workshop is on Saturday, October 28 from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm and will build upon ideas discussed at the first workshop.

Both workshops are at Armbrister Park, in the Multi Purpose Room at 4000 Grand Avenue.

For more info, call Sue Trone, Planner II at 305-416-1445 or email STrone@miamigove.com
Or contact Jacquline Ellis, Chief of Land Development at 305-416-1446 or JEllis@miamigov.com

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

We have a new Bonobos Guideshop here in the Grove

A new Bonobos Guideshop has opened at the Engle Building as of Thursday, October 12 

Good news for those of us who are always ordering the wrong sizes online.

This weekend only: the first 50 in-store purchases of full-priced items of $250+ will receive a free Riviera Short Sleeve Shirt of their choice. One per customer.

Make an appointment today: https://bonobos.com/guideshop  - but walk ins are welcome.

It works like this: A guide will walk you through their line, the guide will help find the perfect fit, a guide will place your order online (you'll walk out hands free) and they item will be delivered to you for free. A guide will also process returns and exchanges.

The store is located at 3401 Main Highway. 

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Grovetoberfest is moving down the block

Grovetoberfest which is this Saturday, October 14 is moving! They have expanded and need more room, so they are moving up the block a bit.

Note that they are moving from Peacock Park, to Regatta Park, which is a nicer and larger park.


"We put the word out for more breweries and they answered. We’ve had such a response that we don’t fit in Peacock Park anymore. Now, don’t get panicked just yet. We’re still staying in the Grove but moving next door to Regatta Park. It’s new. It’s nicer. And more importantly, it gives us some room to spread out and breathe," says Tony Albelo, CEO of Grovetoberfest.

Get tickets here, if you haven't already.


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They Petal'd it Forward around the Grove

On Wednesday, Jet Fresh Flower Distributors participated in a nationwide “Petal It Forward” event in Coconut Grove, in which recipients received two free floral bouquets — one to keep and one to “Petal It Forward.”

Initiated by the Society of American Florists, “Petal It Forward” took place in every U.S. state, including D.C. and Canada, with the help of florists and floral suppliers, in effort to lift spirits and brighten people’s day with fresh flowers.

Jet Fresh Flowers was at the Sandbar Grill the Grove handing out colorful, mixed bouquets to those walking by, or driving by. Many stopped to take photos with the fun-loving Gerbera Guy.

If you didn't see this happening, it's because the flowers were all gone in 45 minutes!

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Art Box is holding an art exhibit for charity

The Art Box will be hosting an art show hoping to raise awareness and raising funds for several different organizations. The school has already hosted a few fundraisers for victims of Hurricane Irma and Mexico's earthquake. This upcoming event puts a spin on things, as each exhibiting artist has the opportunity to select which organization 50% of his or her sales will be donated to.

"I know I'm not the only one who thinks it's been hard to watch the news lately. With so many catastrophes going on all over the world, I felt a responsibility to organize an event to make a positive impact, no matter how small it may be," said Sofia del Rivero, owner and founder of the art school. 

"The fact that each artist is able to individually choose where a portion of their own profits will be going makes this experience as an exhibitor much more personal. And as an audience, what better way to support these amazing causes than by supporting local artists at the same time? By uniting with our local community, we are able to help those in need, no matter how far away they may be."

Sofia will be one of the exhibitors herself, along with Nathalie Fernandez, Magdalena Ramirez Wright, and other Art Box staff member, Johann C. Muñoz. Together, these Miami-based artists will be exhibiting a variety of mediums, including drawings, illustrations, photography, "zines," and even video. 50% of their sales will go to one of the following organizations: The Mexican Red Cross, Fondo Unido Mexico, The Fonkoze Foundation, and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

The Opening Night of this fundraiser will take place at the Art Box studio, located in the Mayfair in Coconut Grove at 2911 Grand Ave, Suite 400E, on Friday, October 20 from 7:00 - 9:00 pm. 

It will be on display and artworks will be for sale until October 27. This event is free and open to the public and includes complimentary wine and light bites.

Art Box offers workshops for all ages on a regular basis, including Second Saturday Family Workshops, Third Thursday Art Nights, daily art lessons for kids and adults, birthday parties, seasonal camps, portfolio preparation courses, private events, and more.

To learn more, please visit www.artboxmiami.com or call Sofia for more information at 305-778-1270.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Neighbors suing City over Old Smokey incinerator

Remember Old Smokey? The old toxic incinerator/dump that was in Village West for many years? According tot the Miami New Times,  "Ten residents have filed a class-action lawsuit claiming Miami failed to warn residents about the toxic ash for years and, thus, subjected Old Smokey's neighbors to a life of health problems that could have been avoided. The plaintiffs say the city is ducking around taking full responsibility for what happened, including the fact that Miami built multiple public parks atop toxic-ash dumping grounds."

Old Smokey spewed toxic black smoke from 1925 to 1974. It was located where the fire station is now next to Arbrister Park on Grand Avenue.

People who remember tell stories of the black smoke being so bad that they would call their children into the house. The smoke covered so much of the Grove. Neighbors remember it reaching as far as Center Grove.


The ash contaminated the land. Parks were supposedly cleaned up, but what about the land that houses sit on?

You can read the whole thing at the New Times here.

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Movie night at the Woman's Club of Coconut Grove

The Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove will present the film "Love Thy Nature" as part of this month’s Community Film Night. The film written by Sylvia Rokab and narrated by Liam Neeson, shows that a renewed connection with nature is a key to good health and to solving our environmental and climate crisis. A discussion of the film will follow the showing.

"Love Thy Nature" will be shown Wednesday, October 25, at 7:00 pm at the clubhouse located at 2985 South Bayshore Drive. Entrance is free with a suggested donation of $10 per ticket. Tickets can be reserved online here or at womansclubofcoconutgrove.org. Cash bar and light snacks will be available.  

Proceeds from the Woman’s Club Community Film Night will support the Woman’s Club of Coconut Grove’s Environmental Conservation Committee. The Conservation Committee efforts include various recycling projects, coastal clean-ups, Everglades restoration/preservation projects, conservation education, and more.

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Ken for Congress?

So this came via email overnight. From the Ken Russell for Congress Exploratory Committee.

Join me where it all started.

We will have a big announcement on Sunday.  Come to Merrie Christmas Park for a neighborhood picnic, park cleanup, and to hear what all the buzz is about.

Merrie Christmas Park

Sunday, October 15, 2017
 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

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Murder, lust, greed, and a good cup of tea

Miami International Science Fiction Film Festival and Rivet Nation are presenting the film, Fitzroy, at Kroma gallery on Friday, October 13, at 8:30 pm.

This black comedy is set in a post-apocalyptic 1950’s, the world is covered in a poisonous gas and the Fitzroy Hotel (a beached submarine) is the last place for a traditional holiday.

Bernard, the hotel’s bellboy, cook, maintenance man and general dogsbody faces a constant battle to keep the decaying hotel airtight and afloat. But when he falls in love with the scheming femme-fatal Sonya, he is thrown into a web of lies, backstabbing, and chaos.

The hotel is sent into chaos when one of the guests murders the hotel’s owner. It is left to Bernard, The Fitzroy’s hapless bellboy, to keep the hotel from falling apart as he struggles to hide the murders from the other guests and the ever-suspicious authorities.

As his world implodes, Bernard must choose between the woman he thinks he loves and the hotel submarine keeping them all alive.

If you watch Eastenders or some BBC programs, you will be familiar with the cast.

The trailer is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ANfrXw8uak

Tickets are $10 each, ($11.54 with service charge and tax.) You can get them here.

Kroma is at 3670 Grand Avenue.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Zoning Workshops: Battleground for future of Grove





Over two Saturday mornings this month the City of Miami Planning Department will solicit public feedback on changes to Coconut Grove’s zoning code. The stakes are enormous: preserving property values; promoting affordability; protecting jobs; and preserving the unique quality of life we have come to enjoy. Every Coconut Grove resident should attend.

The Grove’s zoning code – known as the Neighborhood Conservation Districts 2 & 3 – were adopted a little over a decade ago to better protect the unique village character of Coconut Grove. Its legislative intent is clearly stated: “to preserve the historic, heavily landscaped character of Coconut Grove’s residential areas; enhance and protect Coconut Grove’s natural features such as the tree canopy and green space; and protect the architectural variety within the unique single-family neighborhoods that comprise Coconut Grove.”

To be sure, the code falls woefully short. Tree canopy is shrinking; architectural variety is disappearing; lots sizes are dimensioning; homes are demolished and the lots left bare; and quiet, leafy neighborhoods are giving way to white canyons of concrete forever altering the Grove’s subtropical village character.

While some blame lays, undoubtedly, with lax and indifferent City enforcement, the NCD code has much room for improvement. To that end, Grove 2030, the Coconut Grove Village Council, GroveWatch and other civic groups have collaborated on a year-long effort to identify flaws in the existing NCDs and to recommend measures to fix them. Here are a few:

·      Adjust the allowable size (Floor Area Ratio or FAR) of new single-family homes to levels similar to that of other Miami-Dade municipalities.
·      Discourage “land banking” by imposing financial penalties on developers who demolish homes with no pending plans to rebuild.
·      Increase building setbacks for new construction in single-family districts.
·      Increase and promote financial incentives for property owners to preserve older structures.
·      Enhance greenspace protections and planting requirements.  
·      Creation of a Community Advisory Board to assist City officials in code implementation and enforcement.

These and other recommendations were presented to District 2 Commissioner Ken Russell and to City of Miami Planning & Zoning Director Francisco Garcia in February. Since then, their enthusiasm to adopt most, if not all, of these changes has waned in response to lobbying by opposition groups: real estate interests which profit from neighborhood redevelopment; and commercial stakeholders in the Grove who promote a broader, less restrictive agenda for zoning code revisions.  

Opposition to these common-sense measures is small, but well financed. We need your voice, your input and your ideas for strengthening our zoning code in a way that will benefit all our residents. For more information contact us at info@grove2030.org.

            (The City of Miami Planning Department’s public workshops for changes to the Coconut Grove zoning code will be Saturday Oct. 14 and Saturday Oct. 28, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Ambrister Park’s multi-purpose room, located at 400 Grand Ave. For more information contact the City of Miami’s Sue Trone (305- 416-1445;  STrone@miamigov.com) or Jacqueline Ellis (305-416-1446; JEllis@miamigov.com).
             
Dave Villano
Grove 2030

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Craft Spirits Festival is this week

The Craft Spirits Festival (CSF), started Monday, October 9 and runs through October 13. This is the original exhibition of craft, artisanal, boutique, super premium, small-batch spirits and cocktails.

The CSF showcases spirit producers, brand ambassadors, bartenders and beverage industry leaders who are influencing today’s craft spirit and craft cocktail culture. The CSF also provides the opportunity for consumers to learn, interact and truly experience spirits & cocktails. 

While the five-day celebration will peak with the “Grand Tasting” at the Cruz Building in Coconut Grove, the preceding days are packed with bartender competitions, happy hours and more. 

For more information of the Craft Spirits Festival Week of events and for tickets please visit CraftSpiritsFest.com



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Monday, October 09, 2017

All-Grove Crime Watch meets Wednesday

All-Grove Crime Watch meets Wednesday, October 11, from 7 to 8:30 pm. The meeting is open to all residents. Topics of discussion are presented by Commander Mike Gonzalez; Grove's Neighborhood Resource Officers; an Asst. State Attorney from the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office; a representative from the Grove's BID, (Business Improvement District); and, a District 2 Liaison from the Office of Commissioner Ken Russell.

The meeting is at Stephen's Episcopal Church, 2750 McFarlane Road.. The meeting room is at the rear of the church. On-site parking is available in the church's lot and there is no charge for those attending the meeting. Inform the parking attendant that you are going to the meeting.


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Sponsored by the Arbor, Coconut Grove's Boutique Eco-Living Community
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Should Monty's lease be extended?

Should Monty's lease be extended at the restaurant on South Bayshore Drive? The docks were nearly destroyed after Hurricane Irma and they need to be fixed, which is in the works, but what about the restaurant?

Their agreement with the city runs out in 2035, but the current owners need more time to make back the money they are putting not only into the docks, but also the restaurant itself. 


There will be a question on the November 7 ballot regarding Monty's. Should the owners, Allied Bayshore Marina get a lease that with extensions, give them 52 more years after their current lease is up in 2035?

If voters vote "no," then it reverts back to the city. Is this a good idea? The city knows nothing about running a restaurant. And Monty's is one of the only last remaining original Coconut Grove businesses theses days. Is it worth keeping this part of history?

The food stinks, but they did change up the menu and have fresher food and drinks. So other than the food, what other reason would we vote "yes" or "no"? To extend the current lease?


The Herald explains it a bit better than I did, here.

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Sunday, October 08, 2017

Join the kick-off party for this year's Mango Strut

The kick-off party for this year's King Mango Strut is Sunday, October 22 from 4 to 8 pm at the Taurus (3540 Main Highway).

Stop by, enjoy live music by Ronnie Brooks' "Campo Deluxe Band". There are happy hour drinks and light appetizers.

There is a lot to parody this year for the 36th annual King Mango Strut, which is the last day of the year, December 31.

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