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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Is it time for the Grove Sailing Club to move?

I posted the meeting notice for the Mooring Fields meeting at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club, someone sent it to me to post. The next day, someone from the Sailing Club asked me to remove it, they said that the meeting was private. The Sailing Club is on city property, I don't believe any meeting on or about city property should be private since my taxes and yours, pay for that property and I may want to see how my taxes are being spent, or misspent, when it comes to the Sailing Club.

The Sailing Club has done this many times over the years with me. One time I was asked not to attend a community meeting because I was told I that I might make people nervous and they would be hesitant to speak! Other times I was asked to remove stories about spaghetti dinners and barbecues and band notices because I was told you have to be a member of the club to eat there (even though you pay for the dinner) and you have to be a member of the club to stop by and listen to local bands, such as Solar Dogs.

What's up with this? Why is this club private and closed to tax paying residents when it is on tax payer-owned land?  I've been to dozens of Village Council meetings and Village of Center Grove meetings and other meetings there, where they parade the food right through the meeting but try to order a burger and you're out of luck unless you buy a membership. So even if you're a guest there, you cannot eat or drink there.

I've looked up the laws regarding the Sailing Club and words like disingenuous come up, to describe the club. The city owns both the mooring field and the upland parcel in Meyers Park.

I got the disingenuous comment from an old Jack King article, where he states: "The sailing club has dug this little hole for themselves over the past 25 years with actions that can be described as disingenuous at very best. They were often lax in their community service and at one time dropped their free community sailing program that was part of the lease. Fortunately for them, the city was thoroughly incompetent when it came to enforcing leases with the exception of paying the rent on time. And the club did do that. Their behavior did not ingratiate them into the Coconut Grove community, which still has mixed feeling about the club."

Their latest complaint is about the parking spaces being renovated at the horseshoe area right outside the club entrance. They think it will affect their entrance and boats trying to maneuver the area.

I'm thinking it's time to take a good look at the club and maybe the time has come for them to find their own little piece of property, where they can lock the gates and keep out the riff raff, such as myself. They need to move.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be replaced by what?

June 25, 2015 6:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just level the place and let the residents enjoy a picnic on grass where you can actually see the water.

June 25, 2015 8:08 AM  
Anonymous al crespo said...

I went to a meeting of the Coconut Grove Village Council there once, and got there a little early and tried to buy a coke at the bar. I was told that I couldn't because I was not a member.

As for the previous question of what to replace the Sailing Club with, simple, a PUBLIC CLUB, that is open to the public, that serves anyone at their restaurant and bar, and that provides benefits to the community.

June 25, 2015 8:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few years ago, when they were about to go under they offered "social memberships" to locals at a reasonable fee. Many locals joined and they got out of the red. As they became more successful because of these new members they decided to change the rules and make everyone pay full membership. This year is cost's approximately $750.00 just for the privilege of going there to spend money.

June 25, 2015 8:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

True. The place acts like Private Club at all times, guards and all. And if you get in for any show or small event, the locals look at you like an invading Martian. I've tried it several times through the years, even knowing members of our great Solar Dogs band.

Their members are mostly classic, uptight Boat owners, who not only "like to keep to themselves" (as they always say), but they make you and your friends uncomfortable, like they own the place. It's run like a tight, small private club. That's why very few people even know it's there.

Replace it by what? I know it's a crazy dream, but since we only have less than 50 feet of true, open water left in the entire 5 Miles of Bayside the Grove once had (Seminole Boat ramp), how about a big Mall, a CVS or a Walmart? everyone is allowed there..

June 25, 2015 8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last year they had the audacity to charge $10.00 for a parking sticker when there are rarely parking spaces available.

June 25, 2015 8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know what you want there: a 50 floor Condominium! Are you representing a Developer?

June 25, 2015 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Marc said...

With regard to the meeting, the agenda involves moving the boats temporarily while new "screw down" moorings are installed. There would have been no useful info for someone not a boat owner.
As part of the lease, the Club is required to replace its current moorings. The Club is one year early on that lease obligation: it is fully funded by the membership.

As to the parking circle, I think 18 spots are being added by narrowing the grass part in the middle and using head in parking. The City agreed to keep the outer edge parallel parking to allow trailers to get into the Club.

Being on City property, the Club can only have one type of member, unfortunately, that disallowed the Social membership. All members are members with voting rights.

The Club has always paid rent to the City as well as County property taxes. There is a "Club Liquor License" which does not allow service to non-members. That license is cheaper but much more restrictive, in order to not compete with local businesses.

The Club was founded in 1946 and offers sailing lessons to anyone interested. The Club also offers summer camp "scholarships" to those with financial needs. There is also a partnership with MD Public schools where the kayaks and small boats are used for PE classes.

I hope this addresses any concerns.

Marc B. Past Commodore

June 25, 2015 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard Sue McConnell is planning a "candidates forum" in July at the Sailing Club. I can't imagine how many people will attend with the nearby construction and limited parking. Will regular residents be turned away too or will they be offered to buy drinks as guests of Sailing Club?

I remember going to the Sailing Club as a kid and the big change is how political the club is now and how much less sailing actually happens now.

June 25, 2015 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh pleeeeeeze.....

Unlike the snooty yacht clubs like Biscayne Bay and Coral Reef. Anyone can join the sailing club. There is no waiting list and the ~$700/year is nothing compared to the yacht clubs (more like $10,000/yr). If you want to eat at the club, then join. The membership fees go to pay for the building upkeep, the staff and most of all the rent that they pay the City of Miami. What, do you expect to get this all for free?

I could go on, but what is the point of reasoning with crybabies

June 25, 2015 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The club is great, I'm not a member (because I live 10 miles north) but I always enjoy my time there (especially the view from the second floor). I have about 7-8 friends (young couples in their early 30s) that are members and I just pay them back whatever drinks/food they buy me. I've always felt very welcome.

Also, I think the annual fee is closer to $625, not $750 as quoted above. That's a steal for use of paddleboards, sailboats, etc. Note regular city parks charge like $25-30 per hour for paddleboards, should those be free too?

June 25, 2015 10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The membership fee is $350 plus tax($24.OO) $100.00 Capital assessment plus $23.54 monthly O&M fee. You do the math.

June 25, 2015 12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So it's an exclusive, private club for a a few snobs who "like to keep to themselves" and charges $700/yr, without much sailing. Occupies prime Center Grove Real Estate, doesn't get more prime than that, blocking the extremely rare, virtually Extinct water corner view.

Gotta love pure Capitalism, huh. Bet lady Sarnoff and a few Developers love it there.

June 25, 2015 12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sailing club sucks, and is run by a bunch of very cliquish nitwits. Also, you're not missing anything, since the food is awful.

The former "commodore" (god I hate fake titles people give themselves and eachother for fake prestige - that word has meaning to real men) tells lies wrapped in nuggets of half truth. The club cannot sell liquor to non-members based upon its license, unless they are in the company of members as guests. Moreover, there is nothing to bar them from selling food or non-alcoholic drink to anyone who walks in - nothing except their own rules and agenda.

He is also talking out of school in regard to memberships. That is neither a law,nor part of the lease with the city. Rather, it's again, internal rules and bylaws.

Like all other "societies" of this nature, they are fratty and bratty, and needless. The real blame though, remains with the city, writing stupid terrible leases (like not requiring scotty's to pay taxes for decades) to stupid, selfish fools. At least with scotty's is obvioiusly business, but I hate when someone's personal playpen masquerades as a community service provider.

June 25, 2015 1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said!

June 25, 2015 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Nick C said...

As new member of the Grove community I have enjoyed and valued reading this blog for its many insights. I've looked past its occasional bias and negativity as a result, especially understanding that everyone is subjective and has all the right to say what it says and, we don't have to log-on.

BUT this article could have been researched more and certainly been more balanced. I joined the Club a year ago and the people are as down to earth, kind and welcoming as can be. Sure you need to be a Member but 1) it is a nominal fee and 2) that is required for it to function as a not for profit sailing club and 3) as Marc B comment explains it's low cost license / charter does not allow service to non-members, and all the better, to not take away business from straight commercial restaurants/bars up the road that this blog champions (and rightly so!).

Overall it is an amazing place, doing the best it can with very limited funds and a great asset to those in the community that want to join and sail, one of the Grove's unique attractions. There are countless youth and adult training programs open to all (in fact), all of which are not for profit.

This article portrays a picture that is a world away from what I have seen and experienced. Riff-raff are certainly welcome, so come on down and I will buy you a drink! And if you wish, please have two to stay long enough to research the real picture and get to know the great people there that are part of the Grove fabric.

Best wishes, Nick copelandnick@hotmail.com

June 25, 2015 4:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

COMRADES. The state should run and control everything. How has all that worked in the past. Look at Cuba.
The club pays a lease, runs community programs, and is open for a nominal fee for anyone to join.
Everything in life should be FREE and supported by the state.
"From each according to their abilities, and to each - just take what you want for free"
Get a life!!
Sounds like I know how you vote also.

The Mad Russian

June 25, 2015 4:31 PM  
Anonymous Marc said...

In past elections the Club hosted a candidate forum. The Club is also in rotation hosting Village Council, Sierra Club and USCG Aux. meetings.


June 25, 2015 5:10 PM  
Anonymous Carla said...

I think the fees are very reasonable and am thinking of joining. It will be nice to have a nice place to go for lunch in a very casual setting, especially when Scotty's is gone. Probably the more members the better for everyone. More people opposed to having it torn down to give way to developers.

June 25, 2015 6:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The membership fee is $350 plus tax($24.OO) $100.00 Capital assessment plus $23.54 monthly O&M fee. You do the math."

Where'd you get $350 from? It's $250 according to their website/June 25, 2015 membership forms. Cheaper for non-residents, active military and under 18 (if only your kid wants to sail).


Dues $250.00 +tax once a year in July

Capital Assessment $100.00 annually ($50 in July, $50 in November)

Facility, Operations, and Maintenance Fee $22.00 (+tax) monthly

June 25, 2015 7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That eyesore is already moving http://www.miamigov.com/planning/docs/plans/CG/GroveWaterfront_Commission7-24-08rev.pdf

June 25, 2015 8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find this article amusing as the majority of the statements are false.

Yes, the club is on city property. However, your taxes do not pay for anything as the grounds and building are maintained by members. The club even pays property taxes.

I would love for the "laws of the Sailing Club" be posted as I cannot find any. The article that was written by Jack King in 2004 cannot be used as documentation as it is completely a matter of opinion and hearsay.

Per their lease they are to give $10,000 in scholarships.

As for keeping the riff raff out, I have seen some interesting members at the club. It is open for all. All you need to do is apply for membership.

Last, All of this information can be retrieved by the City of Miami including the tax documents which are all public.

Let's do some research people!!!

June 25, 2015 9:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so off base with this article, and so factually incorrect on many points. CHECK YOUR FACTS before you sensationalize a great community gem like the Sailing Club.

Joining Coral Reef Yacht Club now runs at $12,000

Where is the investigation into Shake A Leg, which has years and years of safety violations, missed payrolls, uninspected and unsafe vessels used daily at their summer camps. The Camp Director has refused for years now to take a Coast Guard required drug test. ALL DONE ON CITY PROPERTY. Their own bookkeeper tried to go to the City with evidence of years of financial wrongdoing...all of which fell on deaf ears. Why aren't you investigating that?

If you're so big on transparency, where is your name and photo....to stand behind this ridiculous article?

June 25, 2015 10:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a club. It's a great place to relax and take in an incredible view. It's $350 a year charged monthly. You can't find anything like this for that price in this financially over inflated town. It's been here for over 25 years. In this town if it's older then 10 years someone wants to buy it and tear it down. Not a lot of historic places left in miami. Leave them alone. Pay the $350 a year to be a member and then Write some kind articles about the club. It'll be good for ya.

June 26, 2015 7:36 AM  
Blogger Irie said...

I lived in the Grove for over 10 years, and have recently left. When we first moved in, I went to Scotty's a few times. Don't get me wrong, I love Scotty's, but it felt very weird being there by myself while my husband was working. Then a neighbor told me about the Sailing Club and their social memberships. I joined and immediately felt at home. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming.

When they went to the current membership system ( a requirement of the City of Miami), I continued my membership. I have always loved the club and the people there. Most of my Miami friends were met at the club, and are still my friends today. Others friends have joined the club after having gone with me a few times.

These are a great group of people, doing good things for the community. Frankly, I expected better reporting from you.

June 26, 2015 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the author of this post had an editor, s/he would be fired. The factual basis for the thrust of the argument is absent, as well as any semblance of logical reasoning.

This is not the quality of reportage that I have become accustomed to from the CG Grapevine and I hope it does not indicate a new editorial slat to the blog.

I would suggest that this type of baiting post be avoided in the future. #takeitdown

June 26, 2015 2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a blog. Tom is not a journalist, or a reporter. He is a private blogger. His bias can be all over everything he wishes. There is no editor - it's just one guys blog.

As for all the people touting "they do stuff for the community" - not one specific thing has been said. That's a problem. Someone's toy acting as a community service organization.

Let's look at Shake-a-Leg on the other hand - it actually serves the community - it does so openly and honestly. No comparison.

June 26, 2015 4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"At least with scotty's is obviously business, but I hate when someone's personal playpen masquerades as a community service provider"

Exactly. And double that, Anon@4:34

The sailing Club is nothing but an exclusive, private Gig taking advantage of a sweet deal with City Hall, while occupying Top Notch, extremely rare Bayfront Space that should be open for all.

June 26, 2015 7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are three public parks on the Bay in or very close to the Grove. There's two boardwalks, a walking and bicycle path, Rickenbacker Causeway, Vizcaya and several restaurants, plus a boat ramp. Why would anyone infer there is no view of the Bay or decry the Coconut Grove Sailing Club? Jobie Steppe

June 27, 2015 12:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lend me your boat or helicopter, Mr. Steppe, I'd like to see the water without jumping over forklifts behind Scotty's or hiking to the back of parks.
Your trucks with loading your nice boats obstruct the only open waterview left from the street, Seminole Ramp.

June 27, 2015 7:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 7:59, You say you need a helicopter, or have to jump over forklifts or hike to the back of parks and trucks block your only view left from the street. Get out of your vehicle and walk a bit and along the way try a few exercise routines on the gym equipment and lose some weight, clear your airways and the cobwebs out U brain and more importantly get a life!

June 27, 2015 2:31 PM  

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