HOME   CALENDAR OF EVENTS    AD RATES   33133 STORE   TREE PROTECTION

winter sunset

Journalism is publishing what someone else does not want published. All the rest is public relations. - George Orwell

Saturday, February 06, 2016

FAM Night tonight

Coconut Grove is holding its monthly FAM Night (Fashion + Art + Music Night) tonight, Saturday, February 6, from 6:00 to 9 pm. The main events seems to be the reopening of FrameWorks at 3485 Main Highway, there will be a part to celebrate. FrameWorks is now on the second floor of the location and Atchana's East/West Kitchen has taken over the first floor.  You can see the progression of the site here. Atchana's is still under construction but FrameWorks is ready to go. The party should be fun, lots of Grovites will be there. Williams McCall, a trendy South Beach Gallery is in partner ship with FrameWorks now.

FAM Night showcases musicians and artists who display their work at participating businesses. It is sponsored by the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District to promote cultural tourism.  At CocoWalk, Colombian jazz singer, Jimmy Paredez will be performing. 

An Indie-Soul band called Bluejay will be at the corner of Main and McFarlane, and Hair by Hisham will have live music by Peanut, Butter & Jelly and artists like Monique Lassooij will show their art and Monique will also be painting live on site. Next door, Vino’s in the Grove, will host local artist Cory Hunter as he will be painting with electricity.

More live music by Campo Deluxe Band will be in front of Masa Taqueria on McFarlane Road and Three Sheets to the Wind across from Lulu’s on Main Highway.

In addition to all the live music, you can get a free henna tattoo by the Henna Mystic in front of Allie & Chica or see live poetry writing by The Biscayne Poet in front of H&H Jewels.

And of course, don't forget the Drum Circle in front of The Barnacle. 

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

Lighting up Regatta Park

Regatta Park is lit up night, looks like red, white and blue along the pathways.

I like the neon. 


What do you think?


FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

Friday, February 05, 2016

Spasso is now open

I had a chance to check back at Spasso, the new Italian restaurant at 3540 Main Highway. I did not try the food yet, but I got emails and texts from people who were at the soft opening earlier in the week, and they loved it. 

The menu consists of appetizers, pizzas, salads & soups, pasta and risotto, fish and specialties and grilled items like beef, sausages, veal and chicken.


I hadn't had Veal scaloppine since I was a child, you know being veal and all, but that dish, on the lunch and dinner menu, is $28 and the chicken scaloppine is $18 at dinner, but the veal scaloppine is $21 at lunch.


The lunch menu is simple and light with salads, pasta and meat and fish.

There is Ravioli and linguine, penne and more, starting at $12.  Branzino is $24, Salmon is $22. There is pizza, too.

The main menu seems to be dinner. You will find Carne Cruda, Caprese, Asparagi, Prosciutto & Melone and more are on the appetizer menu which go from $9 to $13 each. 


Pasta includes Ravioli, Linguine, Penne, Torelloni, Fettuccine and my fav, rigatoni, shown here - there are many choices that mix and match that add a few more plates, these are $12 to $19. 



Fish includes salmon, tonno, branzion and more, from $22 to $29.

Sides are $6 and include baby spinach, broccoli rabe, cannelli beans, sauteed peppers, fingerling potatoes and fried zucchini.



I wrote about Gaetano two weeks ago, you can read more about him and his concept here.

Spasso is only open evenings until Sunday and then they'll start their lunch and dinner schedule starting Monday, February 8.


Spasso is open 7 days; Monday through Thursday from 11:30 am to  3:30 pm and then 4:30 to 10:00 pm; Friday and Saturday from 11:30 to 3:30 pm and 4:30 to 11:00 pm.

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

St. Stephen's unveils art poster

A nice group gathered Thursday night forat St. Stephen's Church for the unveiling of the St. Stephen's Art Show poster art. Orlando photographer Karen Maugans is this year's poster artist. A friend sent her this beautiful shell as a gift and she photographed it, you can't see the colors, here but it's amazing.

Daisy Jamison Holcombe, festival director and Bill Ritzi, director of art present the piece and artist. This is Daisy's eight year and Bill's 24th!
Entertainment was provided by Inagua Iguanas. complimentary hors d'oeuvres by Sidewalk Salad and drinks by Eagle Brands.
Complimentary hors d'oeuvres were provided by Sidewalk Salad, Everyone agreed that ceviche was the best.
Experience and buy from over 160 national and international artists during Valentine's Day weekend, February 13 through 15. Two entrances off of McFarlane Road and Main Highway allow access to the oasis of art and the shady oak trees of St. Stephens Episcopal Church and Day School. Only two dollars for adults, kids 12 and under are free.

2016 has a new Art 4 Kids area with candle making, sand art, painting, spin art and coloring mural whose proceeds will give food to the students in the St. Stephens Sister Haitian school, St. Etienne. Stroll and enjoy Becks beer, Goose Island Craft, Copa Wines, their famous Food Court, signature niche vendors and award winning artists.

St. Stephen's is located at 2750 McFarlane Road.

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

Thursday, February 04, 2016

All-Grove Crime Watch meeting

The next All-Grove Crime Watch meeting will be on Wednesday, February 10, at 7:00 pm; the meeting adjourns on schedule at 8:30 pm. The location is St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 2750 McFarlane Road. The meeting room is at the rear of the church property and signs will be posted. 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 referenced meeting. 

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

Ignoring the potholes

Remember that big pothole at South Bayshore and Aviation I spoke about? Well, it's almost a swimming pool now. I guess that 311 app in the App Store, run by the county, does not work, because I did report the hole a week ago. They are aware of it because if you look closely, you can see a Bob's Barricade up on South Bayshore, see it? Well it is on top of a pothole that is double the size of this one. So their solution is to barricade the pothole (sinkhole?) rather than fill it in.


FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Lunchtime meditation class every Thursday

The Coconut Grove studio Hot Yoga House, has a weekly Meditation class led by Marlene every Thursday in February. The class is at 12:15 pm. 

No heat, 45 minutes.Reset your day or week (or more) with an instructional meditation session designed to fit into your lunch hour. Learn to meditate in a group setting and see how it can help totally change your outlook and state of mind. Marlene teaches us the basics of mantra, chanting and sometimes even brings out the gong.

Free with your current package or $15 drop-in buy online here. Haven't been to the studio in six months or more?  Come try our new one-hour classes, classic 90-minute classes, room-temperature yoga and more at a great price!  Limited time - purchase 30 days unlimited online here.

More info on their Facebook page here: 
https://www.facebook.com/events/1660088810925413/

Hot Yoga House is located at 2500 SW 28 Lane.


FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

Live art and music this Saturday at FAM Night

Coconut Grove is holding its monthly FAM Night on Saturday, February 6 - FAM stands for Fashion, Art and Music. From 6:00 to 9 pm, stroll around the Grove and enjoy all it has to offer. Various neighborhood fashion boutiques, art galleries, salons and restaurants will offer special surprises.

The neighborhood celebration showcases musicians and artists who display their work at participating businesses. It is sponsored by the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District to promote cultural tourism. Become acquainted with local businesses and the art community while enjoying a wonderful family evening out.

Inside CocoWalk, you will hear the voice of Colombian jazz singer, Jimmy Paredez, alongside various artists and jewelry designers including David Lavernia and Sassha Gomez. Many fashion boutiques will hold sample sales, including Pineda Covalin.

On Main Highway, Kit & Ace will host an Indie-Soul band called Bluejay, while Hair by Hisham will have live music by Peanut, Butter & Jell and artists like Monique Lassooij will show popular art.  Monique told me that she will also be painting live on site. Next door, Vino’s in the Grove, will host local artist Cory Hunter as he will be painting with electricity.

More live music by Campo Deluxe Band will be in front of Masa Taqueria on McFarlane Road and Three Sheets by the Wind across from Lulu’s on Main Highway.

In addition to all the live music, you can get a free henna tattoo by the Henna Mystic in front of Allie & Chica or see live poetry writing by The Biscayne Poet in front of H&H Jewels.

FrameWorks will be presenting their new gallery upstairs at their location at 3196 Commodore Plaza. They have announced a new artistic alliance with the Williams McCall Gallery of South Beach, the first fine art gallery located South of Fifth. It's become a "must see" for visitors and collectors when they are in town.

Williams McCall, a minimalist gallery, represents a diverse roster of local and international artists creating contemporary paintings, works on paper, fine art photography, encaustic collage and sculpture, which will all be a part of the new FrameWorks gallery now.
And don't miss the Coconut Grove Drum Circle, right outside The Barnacle (3485 Main Highway), join in and drum, dance, hula hoop or just watch!

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

St. Stephen's Art Poster unveiling party

Orlando photographer Karen Maugans is this year's poster artist for the St. Stephen's Art Show, which is February 13 through 15. This Thursday, February 4, come out to the Nepenthe Garden at St. Stephen's and celebrate the poster unveiling.

The party is open to the public, it's from 5:30 to 8:30 pm.

Entertainment is provided by Inagua Iguanas and special guests, enjoy complimentary hors d'oeuvres by Sidewalk Salad and drinks by Eagle Brands.

Please RSVP to daisy@sseds.org

Experience and buy from over 160 national and international artists during Valentine's Day weekend. Two entrances off of McFarlane Road and Main Highway allow access to the oasis of art and the shady oak trees of St. Stephens Episcopal Church and Day School. Only two dollars for adults, kids 12 and under are free.

2016 has a new Art 4 Kids area with candle making, sand art, painting, spin art and coloring mural whose proceeds will give food to the students in the St. Stephens Sister Haitian school, St. Etienne. Stroll and enjoy Becks beer, Goose Island Craft, Copa Wines, their famous Food Court, signature niche vendors and award winning artists. Be a part of where ART IS IN THE HEART for over  27 years.

St. Stephen's is located at 2750 McFarlane Road.

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

KROMA presents Renaissance exhibit

The inaugural Village West Renaissance Exhibit is opening at KROMA Gallery on Thursday, February 4. Enjoy new art and celebrate history.

The Opening Reception is from 6 to 10 pm. At 7:30 pm, Judith Salmon will give an artist talk.

Judith is one of three artists whose work will be featured her is "Memories and The Carriage of Feet," Bob Simms exhibit is called, "Glory in the Grove" and Alan Laird has "Mine Eyes Have Seen Through the Mist."

The KROMA gallery is located at 3670 Grand Avenue. For info: 305-576-6278

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

A little Def Leppard at The Grove Spot

Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen and Delta Deep played a surprise show in Coconut Grove last week. It was something like you hear Bruce Springsteen donig at the Stone Pony in New Jersey.

The show took place at The Grove Spot on Saturday night. The band was in town for a concert in Ft. Lauderdale a few days later.

Above, from left: Ed Caneva, Phil Collen, Cecilia Kurland, Nathan Kurland at The Grove Spot.

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

Monday, February 01, 2016

Multi-chamber mixer at Cuzco Bar on Brickell

There is a multi chamber mixer at Cuzco a Bar & Cocina Peruana at 900 S. Miami Avenue, inside Mary Brickell Village on Wednesday, February 3 from 6 to 8 pm.

The Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce is part of this event along with the Chambers of Biscayne Garden, Bolivia, Camacol, Colombia, Chile, Downtown Miami & Brickell, Ecuador, Global, Haití, Honduras, Junior Chamber International, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru,Poland , along with Brickell Rotary Club of Miami Brickell.

Cost is: Members $10 in advance Non-members $15 in advance to purchase tickets, please email rsvp@fabulousmiami.com by Tuesday, February 2.

This is an advance ticket event, Tickets must be purchased prior to the event, no tickets will be sold at the door.

Valet Parking: $10 Valet Parking or street parking

Dress Code: Business Attire

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

Arts Festival preview at Chamber luncheon

The Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce is holding a special Arts Festival luncheon with Arts Festival president Monty Trainer.

Join in on Friday, February 5 at the Sonesta Coconut Grove from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.

Monty will preview the Arts Festival, which runs from February 13-15 this year.

Cost is $40 for members / $50 for friends / $55 at door. Purchase tickets now here.

The Sonesta is at 2889 McFarlane Road, hotel valet parking is available for $10 or you may pay hourly at the garage next door.

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

He's making it safer for bicyclists crossing bridges

Yesterday I was bitching about bicyclists, today, I am praising them. Well I'm praising my friend Harry Gottlieb, an avid biker.

Harry, on Saturday alone, rode 55 miles so he's out there and sees ways to improve the sport. Here are Harry and his posse in front of CocoWalk on Sunday morning, ready to head out for a long ride, from left:  
Hank Sanchez-Resnick, Gary Simon, Sheila Schlafly, Harry Gottlieb (in back) and Alfred Feingold. It was also Alfred's 75th birthday - Happy Birthday, Alfred! 

Harry was instrumental in making one drawbridge in the county easy to navigate for bikers. The two-year process paid off with a ribbon cutting ceremony in November on the Miami Avenue Bridge to celebrate the new non-slip bike lane surface. Up until then, there were many injuries and accidents caused by the grating in the bridges. Other bridges are hopefully next on the agenda.

"It’s a work in progress. Miami Avenue Bridge was the first one because Alina Hudak is one of the best public servants in our community. I had hoped that Venetian Causeway Bridges would be improved as well during this recent renovation. But, I have been told there was no budget. They promised to do so when they could find the funds. Let's hope that stories like this will help motivate progress," said Harry.


Here's Harry's bridge project story in the Biscayne Times today.

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

She's a terrible barista

I am too embarrassed to return to the Starbucks next to Monty's because I had to open my big mouth and tell one of the girls there that she doesn't make good coffee. I held it in for months. Every time she makes the coffee, it is horrible. I usually order a cafe mocha, what I get is warm milk, there is never any mocha or coffee in the drink. This happened to me at Panther Coffee once, so I just assume they forget to put the ingredients in, but this is a daily occurrence by this one barrister at Starbucks. Just this one person.

Over the past six months or so, whenever she's making the coffee, I just get out of line and leave. I have done this maybe six or seven times already. But this past Sunday, there was no one in the store except the three people behind the counter and me and she was the one making the coffee. I guess since there was no one around and I don't know why else, I blurted out, "I don't want you to make my coffee!" I guess I since I was the only customer, I couldn't sneak out and I just blurted it out.

I thought to myself, "Did I just say that out loud?"


The three people behind the counter just stopped what they were doing and looked at me. I then explained that every time this one girl makes the coffee, it comes out as warm milk. I have thrown it out after a few sips. She said that I should have returned it, but I didn't, and I just kept hoping that she would either be switched to taking the orders at the register or something else.

The manager suggested that I probably had picked up someone else's order. Many times and only when this one girl is making the coffee? And it's always warm milk? Who orders warm milk at Starbucks anyway?

I explained that I didn't want to start trouble or embarrass anyone and that I don't know why I just blurted it out, but I guess I was holding it in for so long and it just came out.

I told her that there is a guy there that makes perfect coffee every time. I love his coffee. She asked who it was, but I said I didn't know his name, but I said that he's a nasty guy with a shaved head. When I said that, they knew exactly who I meant. "Oh that's xxx," she said, without missing a beat.

So if you want good coffee at Starbucks on South Bayshore Drive, you gotta get it from the nasty guy. He's nasty, but is an excellent barista. There's a Janet Jackson song in there somewhere.

As for my coffee that day, the three of them behind the counter held baited breath until I took a sip to see what I thought. It was terrible - same as always - warm milk - but I said it was great, and I left. Probably never to return.


FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Selfish bicyclists

It would be so nice if bikers shared the road. This morning, a group of about 60 took over one of the lanes on South Bayshore Drive. From the Center Grove at Mary Street all the way to the Key Biscayne Causeway, drivers had to drive at 10 mph behind them or try to pass them when possible.

I'm guessing they are not regular riders or they would know better.



FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

We still are a Village despite the changes

I use the term "the Village" often to describe Coconut Grove; basically because we are that and also it's just another way to say Coconut Grove in a story. I have a friend who says he cringes every time I do that because he says that the Grove is no longer a village. We may be on the cusp of being overrun with development, but hopefully we aren't. It's no secret that I am not a fan of these high-rise developers, but as someone told me recently, I should have protested the building of the SBS Building when that first started, now the genie is out of the bottle.

Someone else went further and said that perhaps people should have stopped The Mutiny back in the 1960s or '70s.

There's always been a struggle with this. About 10 years ago I was at a garage sale at a house on South Bayshore Drive and I was amazed that through all the foliage you could see Grove Isle in the distance, the homeowner started  putting down Grove Isle when I mentioned it; now this was 40 years after it was built, and he was still bitter about the development.


I never feel that developers do us any favors. I think it's all about money in their pockets, they aren't building housing for the poor, in most cases they are catering to millionaires and billionaires.

The new buildings going up are pretty, no doubt. But they are out of scale for The Village. Rumor has it that some of the properties are not selling fast enough and the developers are in Mexico drumming up buyers. This of course proves my point that the purpose of building these is to make money for the developers, not to help the Grove out in any way. Importing buyers from foreign countries is not a good thing for Coconut Grove.

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Gables Rotary presents inaugural chili cook-off

The Rotary Club of Coral Gables is presenting the inaugural Chili Cook-Off, "Chili Chillin'."  on Sunday, February 21. Members of the South Florida community will compete to see who makes the best chili. The club is hosting this event to raise money for its charitable projects, and to provide a fun event for the community. This will be the very first major Chili Cook-Off held in the City of Coral Gables. 

The event will take place from 2 to 6 pm at Fred B. Hartnett Ponce Circle Park which is located in downtown Coral Gables (2800 Ponce de Leon Blvd.). Contestants from local high schools, restaurants, and even fire departments will join in from around South Florida.

In the Open division, anyone is eligible to compete in two categories, best meat chili and best vegetarian chili. Prizes awarded will be trophies for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, as well as cash prizes. There will also be prizes given for the Best Decorated Booth, as well as The People's Choice Award where attendees may weigh in on their favorites. Winning teams will get cash prizes, and one trophy will be awarded to the best of each division to display for the entire year! Contestants will be judged by local leaders, as well as some local "celebrities."

The Chili Cook-Off is free to attend, and there will be tickets sold for those who want to taste the chili ($5 each). There will be entertainment for the whole family, with live music by "The Stiltsville" and "Funk Pedal," bounce houses, and other kids activities. Come out and enjoy the fun and the food and support the local "chefs". There will also be food and a variety of beverages for sale, including a beer garden sponsored by Concrete Beach Brewery.

To register as a chef and to reserve your booth space, please follow the information on their website: www.chilichillin.com, or call 305-441-8063. Deadline to submit your application is February 10.

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

FrameWorks reopening party planned

FrameWorks will have a reopening party on Saturday, February 6 from 7 to 10 pm.

They have announced a new artistic alliance with the Williams McCall Gallery of South Beach, the first fine art gallery located South of Fifth. It's become a "must see" for visitors and collectors when they are in town.

Williams McCall, a minimalist gallery, represents a diverse roster of local and international artists creating contemporary paintings, works on paper, fine art photography, encaustic collage and sculpture, which will all be a part of the new FrameWorks gallery now.

Above from left are works by John Dowd, Madeliene Abling and Laurence Young.

FrameWorks is at 3196 Commodore Plaza, 2nd floor. For info: 305-443-4581.

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

Friday, January 29, 2016

King Mango wrap party at The Taurus

The King Mango Strut Wrap Party is Sunday, January 31 at The Taurus from 4 to 8 pm.

The video from last month's King Mango Strut will be shown and Joe Donato and Mr. Ree are performing live.

Happy hour drink prices and drink specials will be available.

For info: 305-582-0955.

The Taurus is located at 3540 Main Highway.

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

Water taxis will be part of Boat Show/Arts Festival

The National Marine Manufacturers Association will be holding the Miami International Boat Show on February 11-15 at its new site on Virginia Key. They received final approval, despite the objections of many.

To help people get around, there will be seven water taxi stops in Miami including Dinner Key Marina in Coconut Grove, the others are Bayside Park; Sea Isle Marina; American Airlines Marina; the Hyatt Regency; the Viceroy Hotel; and the Four Seasons Hotel. There will be 15 to 20 water taxis, each carrying 45 to 130 passengers. 

The advantage of the water taxi service for the Grove is that the Coconut Grove Arts Festival is the weekend of February 13-15, so this will help in getting people from one venue to the next. Between you and me, I will take the taxi just for the fun of the ride. It took about 15 minutes for the press to get from Bayside Market place to the Virginia Key site the other day. So it's a nice, fairly quick trip.

There also will be water taxi service to and from the Purdy Avenue boat ramp on Miami Beach, which will be the hub for all Miami Beach hotels. Water taxi service to Dinner Key and Purdy Avenue will be on the hour.

There will be many shuttle buses, too, to help get people around.

Water taxi service will start two days before the show (Tuesday, February 9) and continue until a day after the show (Tuesday, February 16). Operating hours will be 6:30 am to 7 pm on Tuesday and Wednesday; 6:30 am to 9 pm on Thursday; and 9 am. to 7 pm from Friday through Monday.

It would be nice to have these water taxi's on a regular basis, those and regular trolley service would be a big plus for the Grove.

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Clearing things up

Please allow me to set the record straight:

1)    I am not a St. Stephen’s Day School parent.
2)    I am not a member of the St. Stephen’s “Board of Directors” though I did serve briefly as a trustee more than a decade ago  -- long before any thought of the present soccer court.
3)    I was never involved in any manner in the planning, promotion, or construction of the Peacock soccer facility.
4)    I was never involved in any manner in the negotiations leading to the school’s lease agreement  with the City of Miami for use of that facility.
5)    The Friends of Peacock Park, of which I am a founding member, never opposed roller hockey within the park and did not “rally” for its ouster.
6)    I am indeed a member of the soccer community, and though I have never used Peacock’s soccer facility, I am happy to report that it appears to be widely available for public use, for free.
7)    The Friends of Peacock Park remains a vocal civic advocate, most recently meeting with city officials to lobby for new policies to protect its grass playing surface from festival-related damage.

I can only speculate as to why my name has been linked with this facility, and so I will. Way back in 2003 The Friends of Peacock Park aggressively opposed a plan -- pushed by former District 2 Commissioner Johnny Winton -- to carve out a section of the park, remove a stand of trees and construct a permanent, concrete roller hockey facility. Paving green space was not progress, we argued. And we won that battle.

A year later, in 2004, the Friends hosted a community charrette for Peacock Park attended by more than 60 people, including at least one irate, disruptive and self-described  “hockey mom” who to this day seems to take pleasure in unfairly distorting my record as an advocate for parks and community space.  The grudge she holds for our opposition to the hockey rink will not die.
This is not the first time this women  has leveled these baseless and vindictive charges in the Grapevine. I’d like to encourage Tom Falco to better screen the anonymous missives within his blog that seem to serve only to damage a reputation and to falsely inflame readers on matters of important community interest.

David Villano
Coconut Grove

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

Reclaiming Peacock Park

The following was left as a comment to the letter to the editor by the Grove grandmother below. I think it should be seen here so everyone can read it.

Over the past few years, every time I contacted Commissioner Sarnoff's office to ask about the park, I was basically told to shut up and mind my own business. I was told that is was ok for St. Stephen's to lock up the playing fields and basically own them. I was told that it was ok that there was no park attendant and that even though our tax dollars were paying for this park, it was ok that it was a private park now. I was always made out to be wrong or mistaken in my thinking, even though many residents contacted me to ask me about it. I don't know of one person who thinks that selling off the park to the school is a good idea. This locked gate is what most citizens are faced with on a daily basis.

I think the time has come to reclaim the park and everything else that is wrong around here because of greedy, selfish, calculated policies of the past. The sell out of the park is explained in this Miami Herald article from 2012.

This item below came in anonymously, so unfortunately, I can't give credit to the person who wrote it:



A CALL TO ACTION

The locked, gated soccer field in the public Peacock Park is the result of a deal that Marc Sarnoff orchestrated between Saint Stephen's and the City of Miami.

There is a group called the "Friends of Peacock Park" that acts as stewards of the park. The group is led by David Villano and Glen Terry. David Villano is also a Saint Stephen's parent, Board Member and a soccer coach.

The Friends of Peacock Park were very pro-active in moving the popular Coconut Grove Roller Hockey Team (the Tasmanian Devils), a youth hockey team comprised of many African-American boys from the West Grove, out of the exact same area of the park and over to another, less desirable park further away.

When the same section of Peacock Park was then occupied by a very popular skateboard park (free and always accessible to the public) the Friends of Peacock park rallied to shut it down.

That is when the Saint Stephen's Board of Director's Pastor Willie Allen Faiella, and Marc Sarnoff teamed up to orchestrate an illegal deal to take over the very same section of the public park for the sole use of Saint Stephen's Episcopal Day School as a private, gated and locked soccer field.

Saint Stephen's renovated the area to suit their specific needs and the area of public park remains gated and locked at all times.

Developer Jorge Perez, whose son attends Saint Stephen's and plays soccer on the now private soccer field in the public park, helped fund the renovations and is the schools biggest donor.

This is 100% illegal, however Saint Stephen's will continue to get away with this crime until they are challenged in a court of law.

There are several precedents for a case such as this, like this one in NYC that was easily won in court by a group of committed neighbors.

http://www.westsidespirit.com/local-news/20150129/taking-back-damrosch-park

Whom amongst us will organize our group of committed neighbors and take back our public park?

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

Youth Empowerment Summit returns to Grove

The Youth Empowerment Summit (YES) returns to Coconut Grove at Peacock Park on Saturday January 30, from 1-4pm under direction of the Golden and Golden Gates Foundation.

YES will build on its efforts to celebrate leaders of tomorrow by motivating youth of today with conversation stationslead by some youth. Other stations will also be led by community partners such as The State Attorney’s Office, faith based organizations and social groups. Participants will also receive community service certificates.

Though the conversation stations are for youth between the ages of 12-19 , the summit will conclude with a free kickball game from 4-6 pm open to all ages.

YES was originally conceived by Johnny Walker in order to organize youth of the area and encourage their participation in programs and organizations created to serve them. The feedback from the first YES which took place on January 31, 2015, also at Peacock Park, was exciting. Area programming such as One Grove and Striving
To Attain Remarkable Teens (START) provided more than 75% of the attendance for the afternoon. 

YES ranked in the top three programs/events by the Coconut Grove Crime Watch Evaluation and was welcomed back this year. With an improved layout of activities, YES welcomes new partners such as The Miami Fire Department, Cultivate Church and Branches, Inc. Participants can expect free food, live music and a celebration of culture, unity and purpose.

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!

Parks being sold to the highest bidder

I have lived in Coconut Grove for over 40 years and have seen lots of changes, some good, some not so good.

Today, since public schools were closed, I was caring for my 8 year old grandson. He wanted to go to the soccer park in Peacock Park.

We arrived to find it locked, though no one was using it. I inquired of the attendant and he said to come back in the afternoon.

By the afternoon, I had two grandsons with me who wanted to practice in the soccer park in Peacock Park. We arrived at 3:30 pm St. Stephens was using the park and the gate was locked. I was told by the St. Stephens coach to come back at 4:15. He said St. Stephens had an agreement with the City of Miami and paid to use the park during the day until 4:15. There are two soccer courts. One was being used to teach golf(?).  I searched out the park employee and no one could be found. The bathrooms had no water nor did the water fountains.  Where the Chamber of Commerce had resided is now a Wine Bar being constructed. None of the workers could tell me where the park employee could be found.  A parent said, "St. Stephens had built the soccer park so they could use it."

So, my grandsons and I went off and came back at 4:15.  I again looked for the attendant and no one could be found.  The St. Stephen's kids were gone, but the gate was still locked.  My grandsons found a place to shimmy under the fence and I said I would take responsibility if they were scolded for entering that way.  The afternoon was flying passed and I wanted them to be able to play. One of the coaches from St. Stephens  who was locking the gate on the St. Stephen's  side (at 4:45)  was nice enough to open the gate that faces the public park, so two other boys (who had been waiting most of the afternoon) could enter the proper way.  

By 5:30, it was getting dark and I told the boys 10 more minutes. Along came a young man with a bag full of soccer balls. He drew a curtain dividing the two courts and proceeded to set up markers on his side of the soccer courts. I asked him if he taught soccer (as so many of our public parks do now) and he said the Paris Academy of St. Germain practiced there for two hours.  I asked him if the City was renting the court to his school and he said "no."  So there was only one court available to the general public from 5:30 to 7:30.

This is very disturbing to me. I pay high taxes to live in the Grove and so do my children.  It doesn't seem right that my grandchildren can't access all parts of the  parks we support with our taxes, especially when schools are closed.  

That park is public land to be used by the public. It should not be considered a money-maker for the city.  It's part of the services I and others are paying for just like fire and police.  

And what kind of message does having a wine bar in a park send to the children using the park?  Kids playing soccer, baseball, softball, basketball and pre-schoolers are climbing on playground equipment  can look over and watch their parents and other adults getting "buzzed."

Maybe the City Commission had decided that Coconut Grove should be for the rich who can afford private schools or can afford to pay for soccer programs in the parks. Or better still, maybe the Grove has become  more for the affluent professionals or wealthy foreigners without children. So, there is no need to provide space for children to play freely.

Parents and grandparents should raise their voices and demand the City provide access the land which was  set aside for the public.

I hope next time I watch my grandchildren, I won't have to drive to Pinecrest or Coral Gables so they can play without restrictions.

Sincerely,
Karen Ryan-Young
Coconut Grove

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing!