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

Friday, August 17, 2018

Bookstore & Kitchen is cycling club's first destination

The Bookstore & Kitchen will be the first destination for the Underline Cycling Club's upcoming community bike ride on September 9. The event, sponsored by Baptist Health South Florida, is the debut of the Fall 2018 cycling series, it begins at 9:30 am at the Dade Heritage Trust (190 SE 12th Terrace, Miami) where cyclists will register and and participate in an information session on the upcoming Underline project, before bikers make their way to Coconut Grove to ride on the Commodore Trail and stop for house-made refreshments at The Bookstore & Kitchen. 

The ride begins promptly at 10 am headed for Grove. As cyclists enjoy their lemonade and granola, they’ll get an inside look at The Commodore Trail from Hank Resnick of Bike Coconut Grove, as well as a brief intro to The Bookstore and Kitchen by head chef, Adriana Egozcue. Cyclists of all levels are welcome, and helmets are required for everyone. For more information and to register, please visit Eventbrite: https://bit.ly/2u5bTKW or email info@theunderline.org

"The Bookstore & Kitchen is proud to partner with these organizations and to be a part of one of the most beautiful and historic urban trails," says Kitchen manager James Radziewicz.

Friends of The Underline Cycling Club rides are free and open to the public with the generous support of Baptist Health South Florida. 

Once completed, The Underline will be a 10-mile linear park, urban trail and living art destination that will transform the previous pedestrian walkway and bike path under the Metrorail into a thriving space of natural habitats, world-class walking, running and biking facilities, inviting exercise zones and a blank canvas for local artists to contribute murals, sculptures, installations and performance art.  

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Community Safety Forum

A Community Safety Forum is being held on Wednesday, August 22 at the Greater St. Paul AME Church (3680 Thomas Avenue).

The event, sponsored by State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Greater St. Paul AME and the Coconut Grove Ministerial Alliance is from 6 to 8 pm, everyone is welcome.

Join your neighbors in a discussion about safety. 

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Chamber networker is at Farrey's Lighting

The Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce's next mixer is at Farrey's Lighting on Wednesday, August 22 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

Stop by and network at Farrey's lighting showroom featuring wine and hors d'oeuvres by Gaea Garrity Event Planning.

Take advantage of special prices offered for purchase during the event.

Admission is $10 online here or $15 at the door for member, non members may purchase tickets for $15 and $20 respectively.

If you order online, you'll automatically be added to their prize drawings.

Farrey's Lighting & Bath is located at 3000 SW 28 Lane.

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Adding lights to the volleyball courts

There is the issue of the Kennedy Park volleyball court lights going around. I published the petition for that last week. The petition is to push a meeting to resolve the issue, the volleyball players want the installed asap. 

I spoke with Kevin Kirwin, Parks Director for the City of Miami. He told me that the lights are on the agenda. There has been a hold up because he is working with the Planning Department, Public Works and a few others.

The park restrooms, playground and security lighting for the park also need to happen according to Kevin.

Speaking about the volleyball lighting he says, "It's a great idea. Lighting is relatively  inexpensive." But he tells me that a few of the neighbors in the area want the park closed at night.

The park used to close at sunset, but people would still be in the park complaining to the rangers that it was still light out, so set times were put in place. Rangers close the park at about 8:30 to 8:45 pm in the summer. I asked Kevin why the park is closed at all, while other parks have easy access all the time, namely Peacock Park and Regatta Park, in the Grove. He said he wasn't sure, it was just something that's always been done. 

As for the new technology for volleyball lighting, Kevin tells me it won't be seen far from the volleyball court, so it won't be shining in anyone's windows at night.

I personally don't have an opinion, I don't live near the park, so I don't know what annoyances people in the park might cause at night. I understand that once volleyball is allowed at night then who is to stop groups from congregating to hang out, picnic, run, play, whatever, and that may disturb the quiet neighborhood after dark.


I asked neighbors in the North Grove for their opinions, I would say most people approve of it. Some comments I received are here, I didn't post their names, I don't think that matters:

"I signed the petition a couple of weeks ago. Not sure what the big deal is with the lights taking so long to install. I approve the lights and think it would make the park a little safer after sundown; not just for the volleyball players, but for dog walkers, runners etc. So long as the lights are off around 10 pm, which is the time the public tennis courts shut down their lights."

"As a Coconut Grove homeowner and neighbor to the park, I strongly support this proposal of illuminating the volleyball courts during park hours. It will create enormous benefit to the community."

"Count me as opposed to lighting up the courts at night. There will be more traffic (where will everyone park?), noise and people from all over the county coming to play volleyball at a facility that is not designed to handle it.  Volleyball until 10 pm means people in the park until even later. A few years ago when the police were less vigilant about closing the gates at night, people came and stayed in the park until the wee hours, having a party and playing loud music. Use the money instead to repair the bathrooms, walking/riding path, footbridge and vitacourse equipment. Keep the park a daytime venue. And it would be nice if park officials would notify neighbors of a proposed change in use and provide an opportunity for input before ordering the lights to be put up (as occurred here)."

"People who opposed the lights being installed are selfish ridiculous people who have no sense of community! Why would you opposed making a PUBLIC park safer and more accessible for everyone to use?! Because you don’t want more people to have access to it at night? Get off your high horse and just be a decent human being! Find something nice to do with your time!"

There is a meeting planned for some time in September regarding the issue. No date is set yet but it will be a planning meeting to talk about the volleyball lights and other park issues. 

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Joel Zoss performs at first concert of season

Joel Zoss performs folk and blues classics at the first of the season's Barnacle Under Moonlight series on Saturday, September 8.

Joel has enjoyed an international reputation as a songwriter since Bonnie Raitt recorded his “Too Long at the Fair” in 1972. His songs have been recorded by many prominent artists, including Natalie Merchant, Albert Castiglia, and the UK’s Katie Melua.

Joel cut his teeth in Chicago in the 1960s with some of the world’s greatest bluesmen and began
his recording career with Arista in the 1970s. His unique finger picking style and moving
vocals have entertained audiences in blues clubs, concert halls, and folk festivals throughout the
US and Europe. From 2007-2009 he opened shows for B.B. King and Etta James in theaters
across the country. He has performed and recorded with David Bromberg, Taj Mahal, James
Taylor, Paul Butterfield, and Howlin’ Wolf.  In 2016-2017 Joel performed at the Teatro del Sale
and venues in and around Florence, Italy. His released his album Lila in 2009, and in 2015 his
album Florida Blues won Roots Music Reports Chart's Top Acoustic Blues Album of the Year.

Enjoy evenings of live entertainment by beautiful Biscayne Bay during The Barnacle under Moonlight Concert Series the second Saturday of each month, September through May. 

Purchase tickets at the gate beginning at 6 pm, and enjoy the music from 7 to 9 pm. Admission is $10 for adults, $3 for children ages 6 to 9, and free for children 5 and under. No pets, please. Members of The Barnacle Society receive 20% off the adult price and free passes to one regular Moonlight Concert. Members can join or renew right at the gate.

The Barnacle is at 3485 Main Highway.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

'Resonation" - an evening of musical theater

"Resonation," an evening of musical theater will be presented at the Woman's Club of Coconut Grove in association with True Mirage Theater on Friday, August 17.

Resonation is a journey of Miami’s history told through an eclectic mix of live music, ranging from classical to contemporary styles and performed by an ensemble of well-known South Florida vocal and stage performers under the stage direction of Darcy Hernandez-Gil and musical direction of Priscilla Blanco.

With selections from its festival of new work, True Mirage Theater brings a full program of songs from seven never-heard before musicals by composers from all over the county.

This special presentation on Friday, is at 7 pm.

Following the performance will be a brief Q&A where 
audience members will have an opportunity to hear about the composers, meet the artists, give feedback to the True Mirage Theater company, and socialize over light fare and cash bar.

Tickets are currently on sale on-line at truemiragetheater.com/events/resonation

Online tickets will guarantee a confirmed seat.

Tickets will also be sold "At the Door" on a first come, first serve basis.

Adults $12
Seniors $10
Veterans $5
Students $5

The Woman's Club is at 2985 South Bayshore Drive.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Miami summer solar co-op meetings

There are two free public, information sessions coming up for the Miami Summer Solar Co-Op. Solar United Neighbors is a non-profit 501(c)(3) that has helped more than 100 homeowners go solar in the county over the past year. There is no cost to join or obligation to go solar through the co-op. Homeowners can RSVP for either session or sign up by visiting www.solarunitedneighbors.org/miami

Any single-family, residence with a sunny roof can put it to work, lower their utility bill and help make our community more resilient.  

The closes location is at Books & Books in Coral Gables at 265 Aragon Avenue on Wednesday, August 15 at 6:30 pm.

On Sunday, August 19, there is another meeting at Pinecrest Gardens at 1100 SW 57 Avenue at 10 am.

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Bohemia lost; the new 'reset'

Part of the new "reset"
The Herald had a long cover story today in Business Monday called, "The Grove Gets Ready for a Reset."

The story is full of facts but it is all based on the newcomers to the Grove - the developers. It's about these strangers coming into our village and remaking it, getting their money and moving along to their next project. There were not many residents interviewed, I think only one, my friend Harry Gottlieb.

Harry says in the article, “The Grove is being ruined. Some of us who have been here 30 years don’t like the changes.” I know that sounds like "not in my backyard," but people moved to the Grove for the small village life, not to live in Brickell South. If we were our own city, I don't think any of these changes would be happening.

I have spoken to many people today about the article. The developers love it. I spoke to one manager from CocoWalk who spoke about property values going up. He doesn't live in the Grove so I feel that he really doesn't care what happens here as long as he still gets his paycheck, but I am sure many Grovites are happy about that - property values going up. There is no more charm or village life, but property values going up is their happy place. Tourists, the few wandering around look shell shocked. We are not what they see in the travel guides.


The Herald article says, “In two years, it will be transformed. It will be vibrant. A place where people want to go. All that’s happening, it’s lifting the whole village.” As of now, there is nothing going on during the day and the sidewalks are folded up at night, usually after 6 pm according to one retail store owner here. So maybe that will change when all of these new condo dwellers come pouring out into the village center.


Getting Grove Ink's new location ready.
He told me, "There was a time that by noon, our register had $300 worth of sales, but by midnight, we had $3000 total. Daily." All the business came at night from shopping and clubs. We don't have either anymore.

He said the Grove was an entertainment district and needs to be that again. But I don't see that happening.

Businesses can't afford the rent. Just today I noticed that Grove Ink, the tattoo shop is moving. They couldn't afford their new raise in rent, they are now going to be at the former Condom USA location. A few other stores and possibly one local bar are on their last legs.

There may be two issues here - the over-development and the ruination of retail. They may or may not be intertwined, retail problems are an issue all over the world. Online shopping took a bite out of that. Right now, a few hours during the day, and lack of much business at night will not support businesses in the Grove.


Over the weekend I read a long post on Facebook from a friend who moved away, she said she came back to visit and was saddened by what she saw regarding "the new Grove." Everyone who commented on the post felt the same. Many old Grovites are moving out and new people are moving in. I guess that's the new "reset" the Herald article is talking about.

A friend posted an aerial view of South Bayshore Drive on Instagram last week, it was all lit up with lots of lights and new buildings. I thought it was Brickell and then realized it was Coconut Grove. The new "reset." 

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The disappearance of small town scale

There is an interesting article in the Arizona Daily Sun called "Building tensions: New stories show up in town - or over it." It's about over-development in Flagstaff, AZ. 

The writer Peter Friederici describes the greed of over-development and the destruction of quality of life in small towns. It's happening all over the United States. I read an article recently of how in Brooklyn and Long Island, the waterfront is being transformed and in that transformation, all of the history is being destroyed. Where factories and history covered the waterfront, there are endless new high rises and parks now, leaving no remnants of the history that built this country and New York.

In the Flagstaff article, Peter describes how certain heights of buildings take away from the scale of a town.  And he explains that the developers of these buildings are from far away places like Chicago and Georgia, they don't have to live in the world they have built and the world they have taken away from locals, those left to deal with the changes.

He talks about a book he is reading this summer called "A Pattern Language", by the architect Christopher Alexander and his colleagues. It explains how to make architecture "humane."

From the book: “At three or four stories, one can still walk comfortably down to the street, and from a window you can still feel part of the street scene: you can see details in the street—the people, their faces, foliage, shops. From three stories you can yell out, and catch the attention of someone below. Above four stories these connections break down.”

I found the article interesting and the book sounds very interesting. There are no real solutions here, but it shows we are not alone when even the Desert Southwest is being over-built. 

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

The next Yappy Hour is at Glass & Vine

Reward yourself and your pooch after a long day at the office at Yappy Hour which is held on the third Wednesday of each month from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

Yappy Hour will rotate through some of the Grove’s top bars and longstanding cafés. Enjoy Happy Hour al fresco and bring your four legged friend for drinks, dogs, and fun.

The next event is Wednesday, August 15 at Glass & Vine (2820 McFarlane Road - at the Glass House)

Upcoming events:

September 19 - The Grove Spot (3324 Virginia Street)

October 17 - Spillover where thee will be a doggy costume contest for Halloween (2911 Grand Avenue, at the Mayfair Promenade)

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Woman's Club holds Bazaar and Rummage Sale

The Woman's Club of Coconut Grove had mid-summer Bazaar and Rummage Sale on Saturday, it was a lot of fun. The bazaar was inside, in the air conditioning and there were lots of friends with jewelry, antiques and collectibles for sale.

Above are Norma Jean Abraham, Lisa Remeny and Samantha Nordin.


Outside there was BBQ for sale and Ms. Cheezious had their food truck. It was a lot of fun, a lot of Grovites came out and enjoyed.

Money collected will help the club offer outreach programs for the community.

Niki Simon Blacker and John Reubens performed at the piano - Niki played and John sang. People loved that. Many of you may remember Niki and John from the Mayfair Antique Market which used to be a lot of fun and needs to come back to the Grove. 

That's Diana Hanes, also a Mayfair Antique Market alum along with John and Niki at the piano.

I'm told the Woman's Club will have another bazaar in the Spring but I think the holidays would be a perfect time to have a holiday bazaar. And they need to bring more food trucks, maybe five or six or nine more!

I might have gotten the Woman's Club a new member. I met a new Grove resident walking her dogs outside and she was asking me about the club. I put her in touch with the ladies inside and she seemed thrilled to meet them.

Bryan Schaefer with his son and Val Nikolov, both Grove realtors.








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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Let there be light

This morning at the Volleyball courts in Kennedy Park.
There is a petition online regarding the lighting at Kennedy Park, specifically at the volleyball courts. The volleyball players want light. The neighbors in the area do not. It's a neighborhood park and closes after dark. The neighbors don't want people coming in from other areas of the city, playing volleyball and bringing lights, crowds and noise at night.

The petition partly reads: "In Nov. 2015 park regulars and community residents including but not limited to court users, lobbied the Superintendent and Director of The City of Miami Parks and Recreation Department (Don Lutton and Kevin Kirwan,  respectively) with a proposal to improve the lighting of the three sand volleyball courts at Kennedy Park. This included a petition in Jan 2016  which collected approximately 100 signatures. After additional and follow-up communications, the City agreed to secure new lighting for the courts."

The Parks Department created a lighting plan and purchased the equipment but the equipment was placed in a storage area and its just sitting there in the south parking lot. The City advised the Parks Department that a public meeting needs to be held in order to decide operating hours of the park along with the lighting hours and the park restroom upgrades. 

So far nothing has been done and the purpose of the petition is to push for the meeting before the fall time change.

I reached out to the Parks Department for their take on the situation but have not received a response yet.

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Thursday, August 09, 2018

The sidewalks look great again

Remember this? You can see all the messy sidewalk photos here.

The companies that installed the fiber optics , Bore Tech and Draft Pros left the sidewalks like this, and right after they were all redone, literally a week or two after that.

But it looks like they were shamed into fixing the mess they left and I know the BID was on top of them, too. This is just the one corner, but I know they did the whole area where they had left the tar, up and down Main Highway.









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Wednesday, August 08, 2018

He's the type of neighbor we don't want

There's a story in the Herald about Andrew Rasken, a guy who purchased two wood-framed houses in Village West. He planned on demolishing the houses to build a large house on the property. They are located at 3295 and 3297 Charles Avenue, not too far from the Coconut Grove Playhouse. The sign out front should say, "Beware of Owner."

In the meantime, the small wooden houses on Charles Avenue were declared historic structures by the City and untouchable. Before he purchased the Charles Avenue houses Andrew had his eye on another Charles, he tried to demolish Charlie Cinnamon's cottage, but was turned down by the city and that area is now in the process of becoming "Charlie's Woods." He has a thing about destroying things named Charles and Charlie.

The irony now is that Andrew Rasken was placed on the HEP Board, the Historic and Environmental Preservation Board by none other than Commissioner Joe Carollo, who claims no knowledge of Andrew's hate for anything historic. Commissioner Ken Russell's pet project these days is to try to protect the wooden houses in the Grove. Coincidentally, Commissioner Carollo is not a friend of Commissioner Russell. 

It should be said that the wooden house issue is controversial and many homeowners don't want that for their homes 

Andrew Rasken allegedly destroyed his old wooden homes in Village West, so that they could be declared unsafe structures - he admitted that while cleaning the yard, somehow the properties got destroyed in sections, where big holes appeared in the wooden structures and allegedly he had load bearing boards removed so that the structures would collapse in on themselves. 

Putting Andrew on the HEP Board is sort of like putting the fox in the hen house. The bottom line is that someone who seeks to destroy history in Coconut Grove is now part of the Historic Environmental Preservation Board. His deliberate and hateful actions regarding the wooden houses should disqualify him from being on any preservation board.

Only in Miami.

The Herald has the whole story here.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Bringing back the electric scooters

One way to avoid parking meters is to ride bicycles, but also scooters. Remember those little scooters that were around here in June? They were taken off the streets because they were not legal according to city leaders. Well, there was talk at recent Coconut Grove BID meeting about the Miami Commissioners writing legislation that would allow the rented scooters back on city property from the Grove to Wynwood and beyond, and this time they would be legal. 

Coral Gables brought them back to their city on Monday in a test program with a company called Spin, this program will be tested until the end of August. Spin is working with the City of Coral Gables, unlike the other companies, like Bird, who just placed their scooters at various locations on the streets without any warning to the cities. I remember the day the City of Miami Police saw the scooters appearing in the Grove; they were confused and flabbergasted. They just appeared out of nowhere.

Coral Gables has rules where the scooters cannot block public access and they are only permitted in certain areas. I'm not sure how that would work or how the scooter company would be liable for someone riding a scooter outside the permitted area or just dumping the scooter anywhere when they are done. Also, only about 75 scooters will be placed around Coral Gables, no more than that.

The scooters in the Gables will be regulated and placed out on the streets early in the morning and taken in again at night. 

If the test trial program works out, the scooters will become a permanent part of Coral Gables daily life.

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MPA wants a rate hike for parking

The Miami Parking Authority is proposing a rate hike for no apparent reason other than the fact that they haven't raised rates for nine years. But in that nine years mind you, they have added meters to anything that isn't nailed down, so I think that more than compensates for raising rates.

Rates will rise from $1.75 per hour for street parking to $3.00. Rates would rise for decal parking and also parking lots owned run by the MPA. There is a new censor parking system, where you can get a ticket without a meter maid being near your car. And the non-stop towing and booting brings plenty of revenue in to the city already, as well as the parking waiver scam program.

The fact that they sold the Oak Street Garage to developers should be reason enough not to allow them to raise the rates. At first I was not bothered by the sale, where many people where, I was foolish enough to believe what I was told to my face,  that nothing would change other than ownership, but of course that was a lie, now we see the garage is an office building and we lost valuable parking here in the Grove so that a developer could, what else, over-develop.

The $16 million that was made on the sale of the garage should more than compensate the MPA and the City Commission should decline their request for a rate increase. 

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