Arbor950x60-static

HOME | CALENDAR |  33133 STORE |  AD RATES TREE PROTECTION

Welcome to the Grapevine

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

Friday, July 20, 2018

Commissioner Russell's take on the Melreese vote

For a guy whose political career began with a park, it may ironically end because of a park. I reached out to our Commissioner Ken Russell and asked him for an explanation for his vote regarding the Melreese Golf Course. I know many people are upset about his vote; he had the power at the Commission meeting and should have stood up to the Beckham group and Jorge Mas, they are bullies. Once the door was open, regarding private development, or any development in the city parks, it will be a disaster for years go come.

The District Commissioner's wishes should be respected, there was a reason Willy Gort and the neighbors who live next to the park don't want over-development in the park. One day, when Ken wants something for the Grove, we may not get the votes from the other commissioners since apparently the district commissioner's wishes don't count now. And the whole thing seemed like a show, because the outcome is so predictable in Miami. Just once we thought we had a hero, someone standing up for the wishes of the community, but it's business as usual.

This project is a huge project, it's not just a soccer stadium, the stadium is now accompanied by 96 businesses, a 500 room hotel, which is now 750 room and if Commissioner Joe Carollo has his way, 1000 rooms or more;  a conference center, a shopping mall and 400,000 square feet of office space and a minimum of 5000 parking spaces.  All this in a public park. At the entrance to the airport. 


The Beckham group is taking advantage of residents and the city commission and the mayor, making fools of all the taxpayers. It's not about soccer. It's about selling off/renting off valuable city owned green space. Voters will most likely vote in favor of the project in November because they will be fed a load of lies from now until then, telling them it will reduce taxes and bring soccer to Miami. They will be told that the park/golf course did not turn a profit, even though parks are not meant to turn a profit. It won't explained how they commandeered public park land to build a hotel, offices and a mall, because according to Commissioner Joe Carollo, the City of Miami needs a mall like Dadeland (his words), in this age of online shopping and dying malls. When one day condos, restaurants or offices start appearing in our local parks in Coconut Grove, you can remember this was the tipping point.


Here's Ken's explanation.

Hi Neighbors,

It was a tough vote this week at a special City Commission meeting regarding the Beckham group’s proposal.  From the hundreds of emails I’ve received, I know that many are happy, many are disappointed, and many just want more details. To start with, let me clarify what was approved at Commission yesterday.  We did not approve a soccer stadium. The commission voted to place an item on this November’s ballot asking voters if they want this or not. Specifically, asking if residents want the City of Miami to negotiate with the Beckham group to convert 130 acres of what is currently the Melreese Country Club near the airport into an approximately 60 acre open space Central Park, and a 70 acre development including a soccer stadium with restaurant, retail, hotel, and tech hub office complex. It’s a lot.  It’s a lot of potential development, but also the largest potential free and open park that the city has ever had. The potential development also includes a multi story driving range and 12 open public soccer fields. Theoretically, the ancillary commercial development would fund the stadium and green space allowing for no cost to Miami but rather a revenue stream and fair market rent. As the Beckham Group holds the only franchise with Major League Soccer to build a stadium in Miami, the ballot question also asks voters if the city should waive its normal procurement process to negotiate a lease directly with this group. Competitive bidding is mandatory in our charter but can and has been waived in the past through voter referendum. To complicate issues, the current golf course sits on deeply contaminated soil and is home to the very effective children’s golf charity, The First Tee. 

I am not here to defend or promote the intended project. I voted to put this forward to the voters so that they can decide what to do with their property.  I stand by my vote, but it was a very difficult decision. I would not allow this on the ballot unless I believed that it was a viable option that the public could consider. The status quo of the country club is of course a viable option as well. 

In last week’s meeting, the public and the Commission got their first in-depth look at the proposal. It was not good enough. The public outreach had been lacking, the financials of the deal were light, and the risk to green space was unclear. I had been receiving concerns from many residents and I vocalized those concerns in a specific list of demands that would need to be met and formalized in a term sheet before I could consider putting the proposal to the voters. I requested a special follow up Commission Meeting yesterday and asked for these commitments:

No Net Loss to Parks and Green Space. Although a tremendous amount of new park space and open soccer fields would be created on site, any commercial development on site would have to yield equivalent new park or green spaces throughout the city — All at the Beckham Group’s cost and responsibility.

Preservation and enhancement of the First Tee program that mentors children and builds character through golf and education. This would have to be done on site at the proposed driving range and classrooms and at neighboring 18-hole golf courses including Miami Springs Golf Course which is less than four miles away.

The City of Miami would not be responsible for any of the cost of the development, stadium, and Central Park, including no city of Miami money for any of the contamination remediation — no matter how bad it gets.

The Beckham Group would pay better than fair market value for the property. In addition to a base rent of $3.5 million per year as valued by independent appraisals, I requested the greater of that or 5% of all gross revenue earned on site by the Beckham group and affiliates, plus 1% of all capital transactions.  When they make money, the city would make money as well.

A living wage of no less than $15/hr for ALL employees on site.  They expect approximately 1400 permanent on-site jobs so this was an important one for me and has never been done in a non-subsidized stadium complex deal.  This includes groundskeepers, janitors, ticket takers, and everyone. For the employees of third party tenants that they would sub-lease to, I suggested a stepped increase over four years from $11 to $15.

By yesterday, the Beckham Group had agreed to every one of these concessions so I am comfortable with this proposal going before the voters.  There is a long way to go for this to become a reality though, so I remain skeptical on behalf of the residents who have been burned in stadium deals before. If the voters approve the concept, the city would negotiate a detailed lease that would come back to City Commission. A complete traffic study and analysis of green space impact and public outreach campaign would all need to happen before I would consider voting on that lease.

I’d like to thank everyone for their passionate advocacy for and against this project. I do not know if it will happen, but I do know that it is yours to decide. 

Your commissioner,
Ken Russell,
Coconut Grove

YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Barnacle presents movies in the park

Bring your blankets and chairs for summer evenings of movie watching under the stars along beautiful Biscayne Bay. 

Enjoy Disney favorites and comedic classics. Movies in the Park are sponsored by the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District, and admission is free.

Friday, July 27 – Coco (2017). Rated PG. Aspiring musician Miguel, confronted with his family's ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, a legendary singer. Note: This event features a Day of the Dead costume contest! Come dressed up to be entered in the contest and win fun prizes!

Friday, August 24 – Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). Rated PG-13. Rey develops her newly
discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares for battle with the First Order.

Friday, September 28 – Meet the Fockers (2004) Rated PG-13. Newly engaged Greg and Pam join Pam's straitlaced family on an RV trip to Miami to meet Greg's eccentric parents.

Gates open at 8:00 pm, movies begin at 8:30 pm.

Freebee shuttle service will be provided before and after the event to and from
neighboring parking lots and garages. Bicycle valet will also be available provided by Bike
Coconut Grove. 

The Barnacle is located at 3485 Main Highway.

YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Was there ever any doubt?

Miami residents will vote in November on whether to authorize the City to negotiate an agreement for the development of Miami Freedom Park, the proposed home of David Beckham's MLS team in the City of Miami. Commissioners voted Wednesday in favor of holding a referendum.

Commission Chairman Keon Hardemon, Vice Chairman Ken Russell and District 3 Commissioner Joe Carollo voted in favor. District 1 Commissioner Wifredo "Willy" Gort and District 4 Commissioner Manolo Reyes voted against.

It was believe that Ken would vote no, as the swing vote, but apparently he feels that renting out city parkland is the way to go.

There is a lawsuit which was filed early Wednesday, which states that the city is breaking its own laws by not sending the project out for bidding.

Also, there is that nasty business of the park being toxic.

YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.

Village West homes declared historic

One of the original houses on Hibiscus Street.

Miami's HEP Board (Historic and Environmental Preservation Board) declared about 40 wooden shotgun homes in Village West as historic at a meeting on Tuesday, which means they cannot be destroyed and they are now part of the historic record of South Florida.

These homes are part of Coconut Grove history -the first homes built in the Grove from the earliest days. 

Not all homeowners are happy, as they feel their hands are tied when it comes to selling the homes or restoring and/or fixing up the homes. 

So much of the rest of Coconut Grove has been destroyed or built over, if only this was part of the whole village starting maybe 40 years ago, the Grove would be a totally different place today.

Hopefully this new designation will have the developers on the run. They can't destroy Coral Gables and other parts of the county, so they come to Coconut Grove to do their damage.

Historic homes and districts have traditionally had higher values than other parts of cities. The City of Miami will work with homeowners so as not to burden them by owning these historic homes now.


An original house on historic Charles Avenue.

From a HEP Board report: "These homes in Village West are associated with the overall establishment and continued settlement of the area by black Bahamians, African-Americans from the South and their descendants. The homes are associated with the early history and development of Coconut Grove."

During the late 1800s, a mass immigration from the Bahamas to the US occurred. Criteria for designation of the houses as being historic included the historical nature of the houses, including cultural, political, economic and social trends in the community; they must portray an environment in an era of history and embody distinguishing characteristics of an architectural style, period or method of construction. A few were dropped from the list at Tuesday's meeting, the the majority made the cut.

In Center Grove is being destroyed by over-development, let's hope the neighborhoods can now have some sort of limitations when it comes to over-development.

Here in the dropbox is info on the existing wooden homes.


=====
Subscribe to the Grapevine and receive it daily in your email.
 Use this link.
====

YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.

Miami Memories; the early years

Bring your historic photographs to Vizcaya Museum and Gardens on Monday, July 23 for a public scanning event. The Miami Herald has partnered with local historical societies, universities, and the Miami-Dade County community on a new hardcover pictorial history book, “Miami Memories: The Early Years.”

The community is invited to participate in this unique project by bringing photos taken in the Miami-Dade County area between 1800 and 1939 to Vizcaya Museum and Gardens on Monday, July 23, 2018 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. Photos will be scanned on-site and returned immediately. A simple photo submission form is required for each photo (maximum 10 photos per family). Forms and submission guidelines are available at Miami.PictorialBook.com or may be picked up at The Miami Herald (3511 NW 91 Avenue).

The July 23, 5:00 pm session at Vizcaya will be held in the Mechanic’s Shop in Vizcaya Village, located at 3250 South Miami Avenue. Additional sessions will be held at other area historical organizations from July 24 through July 29 and can be found at pediment.com.

YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Democratic debate for House of Rep seat

Residents of Coconut Grove are welcome to a US Congressional debate regarding the US House of Representatives seat for district 27, which will be left vacant by Illiana Ros-Lehtinen.

The debate is Thursday, July 19 at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church from 6:30 to 9 pm.

Hear the five Democratic candidates and their views: Matt Haggman, Michael Hepburn, David Richardson, Kristen Rosen Gonzalez and Donna Shalala. The debate is moderated by Michael Putney.

St. Stephen's is at 2750 McFarlane Road.

YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.

Look at the *!?#$% sidewalks!

Granted, the Grove is under renovation and it is a total mess, but so much of it doesn't need to be. Look at this here. Recently, for weeks, if not months, the sidewalks were repaired and replaced on Grand Avenue. Right here in front of the former Johnny Rockets location, the workers took a couple of weeks to make the sidewalk beautiful. The did a wonderful job, but look at it now.


This is the result of fiber optics being added underground. This is how the sidewalks were left after the phone company did its thing.


I'm not quite sure why the City of Miami's Office of Zoning didn't step in, assuming there were permits for the sidewalk repair and the fiber optics job and why they didn't coordinate the two jobs so that they could be done in the proper order. Just more incompetence from our City's Zoning and Permit departments.


And here on Main Highway, while the sidewalks were not renovated yet, this is how they left the job after their work. This is how the fiber optics idiots left things. Look at the manhole or whatever that thing is left open.
Look at the mess. The Main Highway project may not be done for another year or two or who knows how long. So is this the state of the Main Highway sidewalks for the next two years?


We have new businesses coming in here, like the Fireman Derek's Pie Shop. Is this how the new gleaming business will welcome guests? I was just in New York where I walked on 200 year old cobblestone streets that do not look this bad.


And here, a pile of bricks was left - right here on Main Highway. Can you see this happening in Coral Gables or Key Biscayne or Brickell?  This is not acceptable. 

Lack of communication is the issue. There are two different permit departments, utilities go through a separate department than the sidewalk repairs. Some of the work was permitted not all of it. Utilities have a lot of leniency because they use "emergency" as an excuse.  I spoke with Nicole Singletary, Coconut Grove BID director, and she is livid, she's reached out to the city and the companies involved to ask them why this was all left like this. The company that installed the fiber optics is Bore Tech. I reached out to them asking them if this mess is how they leave every completed job site. No response yet. Along with Bore Tech, Draft Pros is installing the fiber optics.  Sloppy pigs, both of them.


YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Preserving the old wooden houses

Photo by Harry Gottlieb

People are already getting into it regarding the old wooden homes in Village West.

This image is in the McFarlane Homestead, which is sort of in Village West, but it's in the Coral Gables section, where they preserve the homes.

It's true that if the homes become historic in Coconut Grove, that the homeowners will be hindered in what they can do with the properties and also might have problems selling the homes. Developers pay top dollar and maybe that's the solution. Perhaps the city can have first rights of refusal for the properties, so if and when the homeowner might want to sell, the city has first rights to purchase and they have to pay a decent price, a price that a developer would pay.


I'm not sure how that would be figured, but it would be fair and the house would be preserved. The city can then renovate the house and rent it out or something like that.

These houses are a big part of Coconut Grove's history and they should be preserved.




33133-store

YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.

About the Melreese Park/Soccer scam

This Melreese Park/Soccer issue  speaks volumes about our city leaders and our parks. And it does affect Coconut Grove.

I like that our district commissioner Ken Russell's swing vote delayed the approval of the plan to move forward. It's all outlined here in the story about the meeting. Commissioners Willy Gort and Manolo Reyes also had reservations. Now if we can just get Ken and the rest to stop the whole project. Giving away public land for private enterprise is a terrible idea.

I was confused about our Mayor Francis Suarez who seemed to be pushing the project which to me should be out of his hands. I didn't understand why he was at the commission meeting and why he was pushing so hard for a deal, but then I read Al Crespo's blog and it's quite clear - Suarez is in the pockets of the Mas family and the Beckham group, they are helping fund his bid for strong mayor - a sure signal that we should vote NO for strong mayor.

I'm not sure how Crespo's blog works and how long the story will be there, but it is required reading and I recommend you read the whole scam story here.


You can tell they all rehearsed their parts because David Beckham, Jorge Mas and Francis Suarez all had the same story of how they grew up loving soccer to a loving family and how two of them grew up and played at local schools and sports fields, etc. Sob stories that have nothing to do with handing over public land to private enterprise. All stories meant to throw off the gullible voting public.

Commissioner Keon Hardemon's aunt, Barbara Hardeomon is a paid lobbyist for Beckham's MLS group, and as he stands there and puts on his act as being this great statesman, he should be removing himself from the process due to this fact.

Keep in mind this is not about soccer, this is about the city being scammed by the Mas family and David Beckham and his group. They want to turn a city owned park into a huge complex, not just a soccer stadium. The stadium is now accompanied by 96 businesses, a 500 room hotel, which is now 750 room and if Commissioner Joe Carollo has his way, 1000 rooms;  a conference center, retail and 400,000 square feet of office space and 3750 parking spaces.  All this in a public park. At the entrance to the airport. If you thought you were rushed to get to your plane now, wait till you have to sit in traffic before or after a soccer game.

And on top of all this, the neighbors who live adjacent to the park, do not want the project in their front yards.

This project needs to go elsewhere. And the Mayor needs to sit down. Opening any city parks to development should never be allowed. 

YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Giralda Plaza shows off colorful Umbrella Sky

Umbrella Sky is now part of Giralda Plaza in Coral Gables.


 I've seen this project online over the years and thought this would be perfect for Fuller Street or the Mayfair Promenade in the Grove. It consists of hundreds of colorful umbrellas hanging over the plaza. The Umbrella Project was presented to the pubic at a ceremony on Friday night.


The umbrellas will sway over Giralda Plaza until the end of summer.


Coral Gables is the first city in South Florida and the third city in the U.S. to host the Umbrella Sky art project, an internationally recognized public art display that has taken part in Paris and Lisbon.


“This captivating art project is a great example of our commitment to increase art and cultural experiences in the City Beautiful,” said Coral Gables Mayor Raúl Valdés-Fauli. “Umbrella Sky will undoubtedly drive more people into our downtown, but we hope they stay to dine and shop while here.”

Umbrella Sky is the creation of Portuguese Company, Sextafeira, which means Friday in Portuguese.




33133-store

YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Bring back the right turn lane on Bird Avenue

You would think with all the construction and all the traffic added to the Grove that the city would make navigating the streets easier, not harder. I still don't understand the purpose of getting rid of the right turn lane at Bird and McDonald for this planter.

This past week traffic was backed up in the one lane from McDonald to Matilda and beyond because two lanes are now one. The need to remove this less than smart planter feature and add the right turn lane back. This is a main artery, it needs as many lanes as possible.



YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.

Rise and Shine breakfast seminar

The Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce presents Breakfast with Anne Freedman, President of Speakout who will show you how to ramp up your networking skills and develop a mini-pitch to open more doors.

What do you say at a business networking event
to help launch valuable relationships?

In this interactive session, you will update your Elevator Pitch/Mini-Pitch and take away practical networking pointers to promote more meaningful conversations and post-event meetings.

This fun and popular event is especially designed for people in sales, business development, nonprofits, customer service, and anyone who wants to improve their interpersonal communication.

Tuesday, July 17
8:00 - 8:30 am Registration
8:30 - 10:00 a.m.
Presentation and discussion

PEACOCK GARDEN CAFE
2889 McFarlane Road.

$15 for Grove Chamber Members
$20 for Future Members
Includes Light Breakfast

Register here.

YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.

Friday, July 13, 2018

50 homes in Village West to be designated historic?

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson sent a statement to the City Commission on Thursday, requesting that the historic preservation office identify the 50 shotgun homes in Village West to be designated as a historic collection.

Her Chief of Staff, Alexis Snyder read the following to the commission: "As the first Bahamian American elected to the United States Congress, I ask you to join me in celebrating the Bahamian Independence Day that was just two days ago, July 10, 2018, and most importantly the major role that African Bahamians played in establishing Coconut Grove, Miami's and South Florida mainland's first black settlement.

"These Bahamians together with African Americans contributed greatly in the building of the City of Miami, and its incorporation in 1896.

"I look forward to serving as Honorary Chair of a future Bahamian enclave initiative in West Grove."

YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

No decision on Melreese/soccer issue

The proposed Miami Freedom Park

The City Commission had a packed house on Thursday for the discussion of the issue of turning the Melreese Golf Course into a soccer complex, which went well into the night. In the end, the Commission agreed to defer the meeting until next week. After hours and hours of discussion, a consensus could not be met. Their job was to decide whether to put the issue to a ballot for city voters to decide on in November.  Residents would vote yes or no to allow a change of laws which would waive competitive bidding to allow County Commissioners to make a deal with the owners, the Beckham group, to lease 73 acres of the Melreese Country Club property which is located next to Miami International Airport at 1802 N. 37 Avenue.

So far, nothing has been decided.


David Beckham and Jorge Mas, owners of the new soccer franchise were present, and explained the idea behind the whole park, called Miami Freedom Park. A large part of the area is open green space and open soccer fields for the public to play in. It will be open and free to all. The actual 25,000 seat soccer stadium is in another section of the park. It's  whole make-over of Melreese Park. Up to $1 billion could be spent to build the whole park. They claim that taxpayers will pay none of that.

The soccer stadium has now turned into 96 businesses which will be in that park with a 750 unit hotel (changed from 500), a conference center, retail and 400,000 square feet of office space and 3750 parking spaces.  All this in a public park. I'm not sure how traffic around the airport will be affected, but this is a very dense area. The whole complex is proposed to bring in $435 million a year in revenue. The city is proposed to make $3.5 million a year on the project, but many feel that amount would be too low compared to the gross. The City and County would also share in a proposed $44 million in taxes which would also go to schools.



David Beckham
speaks to Commission
At the 11th hour, Commissioner Ken Russell asked to have a future meeting, he was uncomfortable with a few things. There were just too many unanswered questions for him. "Why are we doing this now in the middle of the night? Why are we negotiating on the dais when we could have been discussing this for three months? My gut tells me that we can do better."  He welcomes more public comment. Commissioner Manolo Reyes agreed. He said there was no transparency. He was not prepared to vote either.

After a heated exchange, the commissioners decided to meet again to discuss this issue on Wednesday, July 18 at 10 am to discuss ballot language.


Ken said, "I forgot my rubber stamp. I got 99 problems and this pitch ain't one." He felt that the commissioner of the district where the project is, should be taken into consideration. That's Commissioner Will Gort, who had many questions, concerning his district and the indifference the Beckham group showed the neighbors. Ken agreed that the neighbors were not consulted at all in that district. That's a problem for him. "I want to see the voters have a choice, but they trust us to vet these projects before it comes to them," he said. "People don't feel comfortable because they don't know what's going on." He said he has been hearing from his constituents concerned about the project. 


Then there is the question of toxins under the ground at Melreese Park. Ken is very familiar with the ash and toxins that allegedly are in the Melreese Park ground. He started his political career cleaning up Merri Christmas Park right here in the Grove. "I know what it costs to remediate the cleanup and this one scares me," he said. "I'm assuming the worst." Mas told him that the city would not be responsible for the remediation. He said his group would take care of that. He said they could "cap" the toxic areas, but he did say there would be limits to what they would pay. Ken wants them to use the words, "100% privately funded." He wants to protect the city and would like them to be responsible for everything. In the end, Mas agreed.

Ken asked that no park space be reduced. It could be made up in other areas of the city and be completed by the end of the soccer project. It's called a "no net loss policy." He doesn't consider the stadium itself as park space. He also asked for a percentage of all sales (gross revenue sharing) so that if the project makes more money over the years, the city will make more money. He was concerned about unions and minimum wage of $15 per hour for workers. That was a big sticking point for him.

Mayor Francis Suarez spoke to the commission at the meeting, and asked them to allow the voters to decide. The problem with that is the voters may be voting for celebrity not realizing they are handing over city-owned property for private enterprise. Suarez talked about golf courses not turning a profit, if they don't should we sell them off? What about Kennedy Park and Peacock Park here in the Grove, do they turn a profit or should we turn them over to private developers, too?  Also, this is one of the cases where the whole city votes regarding one neighborhood who will deal with the brunt of the project.


Commissioner Willy Gort told the Beckham group that while they did meet with neighbors, they did not meet with all of the neighbors, especially those east of the project who live right at the project, who are the most concerned. And he asked about traffic, which the Beckham group seemed to brush off. Commissioner Manolo Reyes also agreed that the immediate neighbors were not consulted. He said that the Beckham group has not been transparent, he said he got more information from the Miami Herald than from the group itself. He felt that the project should be open for bid to find out the real value of the property. He said he has problems with the current financials. "My dream is to bring transparency to the City of Miami," he said. "We have lost the trust of the people," he said. He said that voters think they are voting only for a soccer stadium, when it's a whole park and complex including a hotel and stores.

Reyes is the first one to bring up the subject of toxins under the park. That park was a toxic dump at one time and when it is dug up for renovation, all problems are going to come up with remediation along with astronomical costs. He said this is a huge development that the city is giving away. It's not a little project. He also said that when the World Cup games come to Miami in the future, they are going to be played at Hard Rock/Joe Robbie Stadium, not this new stadium, as the Beckham group has led people to believe.


Commissioner Joe Carollo said that Melreese is a country club and you pay to get into it.  You pay to play golf, too. He felt the golf club does not make a profit so that it should be turned over to developers. He spoke of bringing in revenues and the fact that the City of Miami doesn't have a mall like Dadeland. Aren't malls dying, a thing of the past? He did make a point that maybe 1% of Miami residents have ever been to Melreese Park, which could be true. He talked about moving the First Tee children's golf group to another golf course, when earlier, Mas said he would preserve the First Tee program at the new soccer complex.


Chairman of the Commission, Keon Hardemon, talked about people voting for projects that are out of their districts, which always is the case in Miami. The ultimate vote should go to the residents of District 1.


Eminent domain will come into play as roads will need to be widened, issues with the airport will be involved and the whole thing could turn into a big mess where traffic and neighbors in the area are concerned. 


It's not being for or against soccer or Beckham, it's about renting out public land for private purposes. That is the issue here. Beckham and Mas made it about them and their children and their love of soccer. It's not about that.


Once the door is opened, Coconut Grove has the most to lose because precedence is set. The waterfront may now open for developers who will claim they can bring the city millions of dollars by taking that over just like developers were allowed to take over the golf course which is in District 1. Of all the commission districts in Miami, District 2, Coconut Grove, has the most to lose in the future.

This is going to be voted on and anything can happen, but people are blinded by the celebrity of David Beckham and most likely will approve that the property be turned over for soccer. They should have made a stipulation that says the Beckham group cannot advertise or lobby the public for votes; the mayor cannot go on the radio and push the project either. 


=====
Subscribe to the Grapevine and receive it daily in your email.
 Use this link.
====

YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.

Grove-Key Dems Club meets for BBQ Thursday

The Grove-Key Dems Club (GKDC) meets tonight, Thursday, July 12, for a free community BBQ at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church (3515 South Douglas Road) at 7 pm.

The group consists of engaged citizens helping neighbors in Coconut Grove and Key Biscayne to become better informed regarding the critical political and social issues of our time. 

Their goal is to elect more Democrats to public office at the local, state, and federal levels. They discuss issues, meet candidates, phone bank, canvass neighborhoods, arrange campaign events, and utilize social media in support of Democratic candidates. 

GKDC meets once monthly on the second Thursday from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, 3515 South Douglas Rd. in Coconut Grove.

Meetings for the remainder of 2018: July 12, August 9, September 13, October 11, November 8, December 13. 

Members are encouraged to bring guests and to recruit new members. Members remit a $25 fee annually.

For info email Christina Bracken at ChristinaBracken@gmail.com

YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.

Celebrate Bastille Day on Saturday

Celebrate Bastile Day on Saturday, July 14 at The Coconut Grove Store. It's an evening of art, champagne and appetizers featuring collages by Grove artist Erika King.

It's free and open to public.

The event is from 6 to 9 pm.

The Coconut Grove Store is located at 3444 Main Highway.

=====
Subscribe to the Grapevine and receive it daily in your email.
 Use this link.
====

YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.

The new Starbucks

Starbucks is scheduled to move across the street to their new location at the end of the summer - probably in September.  They will be at the location at the triangle - at Main Highway, Grand Avenue and McFarlane Road until the renovations at CocoWalk are complete, then they plan to move back, it may be two years.

Starbucks already has branded the building. It looks really good at that location.

This will be Starbucks' third location in the Grove. You may recall before they were at CocoWalk, they were across the street at the far end of the Johnny Rockets building on Grand Avenue.

I've taken to drinking a lot of their Emperor's Cloud Mist Green tea lately. 

YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Coffee with a Cop

On Thursday, July 12, you can enjoy Coffee with a Cop at the Frankie Shannon Rolle Service Center.

Join neighbors and police officers for an open dialogue. No agenda or speeches, just a change to ask questions, voice your concerns and get to know our local Commander Chiquita Butler-Thomas and officers in our neighborhood.

The event is free, it's from 4:30 to 6 pm.

The Frankie Rolle Center is at 3750 South Dixie Highway at Douglas Road.

YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.

Should the Coconut Grove BID continue?

On Thursday, July 12, the City Commission will discuss whether or not to continue the Coconut Grove BID for another 10 years. As of now, their 10 year stint is up. The main voters should be the property owners who pay into the BID, I believe they need a 51% "yes" vote to continue. I was told that most property owners pay $1000.00 per year for each property as BID tax, of course there are larger property owners like CocoWalk for instance, but most properties are small.

What do you think about this? Is the Coconut Grove BID favorable to you? Should the BID include neighbors, after all, it's the neighbors who support the businesses. One would not exist without the other. When I say include neighbors, I don't necessarily mean they should be added to the board, I just think the BID should be more transparent, they should let neighbors know what's going on behind the scenes.

I don't mean private things, but small things like the info booths will be painted this week or the sidewalks will be cleaned or even a simple email saying the US Flags are going up for the summer. Just little things like that. It might make them seem more friendly and approachable. They could easily send them to us at the Grapevine and we'll post the stories. 


The resolution that the City Commission will bring up on Thursday will also ask for a reduction in BID board members from the current 19, down to 9.

Here are the results of a recent meeting Grove2030 held to discuss the BID.

Here is the City Resolution regarding the BID.

=====
Subscribe to the Grapevine and receive it daily in your email.
 Use this link.
====

YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.

The current state of CocoWalk

This is the current state of CocoWalk this week, they are well on their way to constructing their new office building. They've been quite efficient in the demolition, I had pictured Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball or something and heavy equipment taking over Virginia Street, but they managed to get the structure down with the heavy equipment inside rather than outside the structure.











YOU MAY NOT LIFT THE PHOTOS & TEXT. IT'S COPYRIGHTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. YOU CAN HOWEVER SHARE A STORY ON SOCIAL MEDIA BY USING THE LINKS HERE.
For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.