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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Change isn't necessarily a bad thing

I just wanted to take a moment to put things in perspective for some of your readers. It seems like everyone is always up in arms about change ruining the Grove. Now my wife and I have only lived in the Grove for going on 5 years, but I've spent time here since I turned 21, so at 33 I have a bit of perspective, but obviously not as much as you or others.

Do you remember what used to be in the spot that Lokal is in now? (You probably do, but I honestly don't) Has Lokal not become a part of "Coconut Grove?" Same with Vinos, they are relatively new on the block and they have fit in just fine. Bianca Gelato has become a staple for us as well. The new menu at Barracuda Bar has taken an already great place to the next level. What I'm getting at is that change isn't necessarily a bad thing just because something is different does not mean it won't fit in with the Grove. In one of your recent throw back columns you mentioned a club in the spot that is now The Grove Spot. Would anybody say that The Grove Spot isn't a part of the culture of Coconut Grove?

Basically what I am trying to say is that change isn't necessarily a bad thing. Everything was new at one time. Give things a chance before you judge. What's new now may be a Coconut Grove staple in 10 years. It may not be as sleepy or as quaint as it used to be, but that may not be the worst thing in the world. Change can sometimes add value. I don't hear any of the old Grovers complaining that the house that they bought thirty-five years ago being worth 5 to 10 times what they paid for it when it was a sleepy bohemian fishing village. 

James Willoughby
Coconut Grove

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice thoughtful letter James. I feel you hit the nail on the head and in addition I would add that most folks with a stake in our Grove feel that progress or something new isn't bad. I can't speak for any other blog since I've only read the Grape. There appears to be what could be called gadflies who posses and espouse I lot of vile contemptible rants full of hate and anger. For example, one target is Mark Sarnoff. Or it could just as easy be a tree, sidewalk, food truck or blue colored sky. Gadflies are badflies, i.e., badflies! There numbers are extremely limited and they die off early due to the stress. Otherwise the Grape is a great way to get a sense of the Grove as Tom has his ear to the pavement and catches hell from all sides, but the show will go on. Jobie Steppe

August 22, 2015 3:24 PM  
Blogger anonymous said...

Glad to read both these comments! Some of the responders here should start a blog called The Sour Grape. They pick at everything! What a way to go through life.

August 22, 2015 5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coconut Grove was never a sleepy town. It sure has been quaint for more than a century. Coconut Grove changed 9 years ago, it became a difficult place to work and live because of the changes the current "term limited" commissioner instituted.

August 22, 2015 6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 6:53, Could you be a little more specific? Jobie Steppe

August 22, 2015 9:01 PM  
Anonymous gw said...

James, I understand what you are saying and I have only been around for 12 years so I don't know the "old Grove" either. But the thing that seems to irritate the long-timers (don't want to refer to anyone as old) is the loss of an establishment with character to be replaced by a chain restaurant or store that can be found anywhere. The places you mentioned are not chains and that is why they fit into the Grove.

The other thing that is irritating is the flouting of regulations and laws and the rampant cronyism that is evident all over Miami-Dade county. The citizens are the last that anyone in government seems to think about and we actually should be first.

August 22, 2015 9:50 PM  
Blogger Brian Breslin said...

I used to chime in a lot more, gave up for a while due to all the hateful comments and vitriol spewed in every direction. I appreciate James taking the time to share an opinion I tend to agree with.

I've been coming to the grove for over 20 years (I'm 32), living in the grove for 8 years. I've seen some places come and go, others stuck around despite not being competitive anymore, and I've also seen a neighborhood's lack of living up to its potential.

This neighborhood or village can be so much better, it has the bones to be, it just needs to get its act together.

August 23, 2015 12:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

History of humanity: people opposed to changes die: change happens!
The question to the people oppose to change is : to what year do you want to go back? 1980, 1950, 200 BC ?
By the way, I am 75 and love change!

August 23, 2015 2:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first experiences with The Grove were in the 80's and it was not sleepy at all. Bumper to bumper traffic on weekends, concerts in the park and Rocky Horror movies at midnight. I do enjoy the quiet side with all the trees, parks, and the bay but wouldn't mind some extra life brought back. It's been tried but other neighborhoods seem to be attracting the fun better than the Grove. We're trying to be a small town but we're actually the center of a big city. It's difficult to slow progress. Just hope it all makes sense when we look back.

August 23, 2015 2:02 AM  
Blogger James said...

Anon 2:02:

I actually remember the Grove being much more crowded when I was in my early 20's as well. But with the early closing of the bars I don't know if we can get that back. Tom, have any of the candidates come out in favor of pushing the closing time back again to stay competitive with other areas of the county?

August 23, 2015 6:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coconut Grove could have kept elements of its unique character and cultures while changes take shape. Unfortunately a tight group with only profit in mind took over lead by the commissioner and wants to homogenized it with the rest of Miami when they completely have forgotten the neighborhood can be monumental and worth much more than their intended ROI.

August 23, 2015 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe there are 6 or 7 candidates seeking the office of District – 2 Commissioner. Out of all of them guess which one stud up against the rezoning of Mercy Hospital for three luxury condos? This candidate was relieved when the case went to court and a sensible judge ruled against three Miami Commissioners for their support of illegal spot-zoning. Guess which candidate stud up against the project that will replace Scotty’s Landing and Charthouse with an out of character glass and steel structures? Guess which candidate is supporting the residence of Grove Isle against development on their island that will take away their waterfront view? That candidate that has fought for our community for many years is none other than Grace Solares.

August 23, 2015 3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last election there was a "stud" who ran against Sarnoff and is now mysteriously supporting the female Sarnoff, good to know we have another "stud" running this election.

August 23, 2015 4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grace Solares isn't fighting for us! She just sues the City on high profile issues to make a name for herself. She has won none, I repeat NONE, of her lawsuits because they are frivolous. She has cost the tax payers of this city, you and me, millions of dollars in the process and all for her self promotion. Also, she isn't putting up any real money of her own to fund these silly lawsuits. Her lawyer does it for free due to their special relationship. The only candidate in this race worth voting for is Ken Russell.

August 23, 2015 5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Al Crespo had a story on Grace not too long ago. Something about having received campaign donations from shady folks. Google "Al Crespo Grace Solares" - there isn't a direct link to the article on his site.

August 23, 2015 9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grace has not cost the Taxpayers of Miami millions & millions of dollars and whoever utters such a stupid, ignorant statement is a liar.

August 23, 2015 10:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Each of the suits brought against the City by Grace Solares and other citizen activists are paid for out of their own pockets and they do so on their own personal time. This is not what one does to make a name for your self. She would be far better off to invest her time and money in a good PR firm that would let the public know about al that she does for this city, such as: long-term member and current President of Neighborhoods United, a Miami-Roads Neighborhood Civic Association group that has worked diligently with the City and County to protect the quality of life for residents in the Roads area of the City, also long-time member and current President of the Urban Environment League, an organization founded originally to fight the the construction of the Marlins Baseball stadium in Bicentennial Park on the waterfront in downtown Miami (and recently the Beckham soccer stadium) and evolved to become a protector of parks, green spaces and recreational areas in our City and maintaining public access to the waterfront, among other things. She is a long-time member and current Vice President of Miami Neighborhoods United, another citizen activist group that works to protect our quality of life in the City and be a watchdog over the City of Miami Commission to insure that they follow the rule of law and not corrupt it for their personal gain. I could go on but needless to say we need more people dedicated and willing to invest their time and energy to make Miami a better place to live, work and raise our families. Stand her up against Mark and Teresa Sarnoff and you see the glaring difference between individuals that are in the political game for personal wealth and aggrandizement and an individual who has worked behind the scenes and tirelessly for the betterment of Miami.

August 24, 2015 9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently there are plenty of concerned citizens that feel a Teresa Sarnoff victory would be a political loophole in the Term Limit rule. It seems like the extensive field of candidates are running against the Sarnoff’s. So how will they and the rest of us feel if they end up splitting the vote and permitting Teresa to win? These candidate and their supporters should consider the Greater Good and rally behind the one candidate that has been selflessly championing our community for many years.

August 24, 2015 11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree but it will be tough for the candidates to do so. A field of 8 candidates is a Sarnoff dream come true. They have their boleteros working the assisted living and public housing. The District 2 2011 election was decided by only a 5,450 voter turnout! Sarnoff won with 2,873 votes (52.72%) of which 50% were absentee ballots (Kate Callahan was 2nd with 1,067 votes). It's a numbers game that they are reasonably confident they can win given that they have individuals who can deliver votes.

August 24, 2015 11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

During the last campaign, I looked at the Sarnoff donation list. Low and behold a person I know was on that list. I know for a fact that this person HATES Sarnoff, but there was the name. The name was used by her boss so he could donate even more money. These things happen all the time. After that, I realized that those lists don't mean anything.

And so many mean ugly things being said about Solares on these comments by Russell supporters. You guys really need to tone it down. its mean and ugly and reminds me of the Center Grove Mafia. Ken Russell is suppose to be the nice guy, but you guys really make me wonder.

August 24, 2015 4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If all U anti-SARNOFF's came together with more energy and funding than required by your fingers tapping, tapping, tapping your fingers against a key board - - - - na, gadflies are just little insects with no power or authority, direction or enthusiasm, forget it, Teresa/Mark are in! You get what you deserve. Jobie Steppe


August 24, 2015 4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell us who to vote for Jobie Steppe and why. You seem to have an answer for everything and always so clever. Gadflies are badflies, i.e., badflies! Really?

August 24, 2015 7:45 PM  
Blogger Coconut Grove Events said...

I was rather enjoying all the refreshing commentary and then it devolved once again to all the ranting and soapboxing about the candidates.

Back on topic, thank you James Willoughby for thoughtful and spot-on observations. Cities and neighborhoods grow and it would be kind of weird if everything remained the same.

Once upon a time I enjoyed dancing at the Jamestown Club. I left Miami in 78 and when I came back it was gone. In 1983 a Condo named Grove Towers rose on that spot. I understand there was a very happening spot there called Suzanne's, and I am told many people remember it fondly. I recall the Jamestown, and the period of my life during which I went there, with that same fondness, but if it still existed, I cannot imagine I would still be going there after all these years, anymore than I could imagine going to Studio 54 now, even though I was a fixture there in its heyday. This is probably true of all the people that went to the Mutiny.

The first time I ever saw a John Waters movie (and Divine), it was upstairs where the Grove Spot now is. It was uncomfortable and I remember having to sit on the floor, by a door. I recall those time fondly, but it was because of my age and the friends that were with me, but I wouldn't go there if it was still in existence any more now than I would go camping.

As a teenager I enjoyed hanging out at Peacock Park, and then going over to Lums for one of those hot dogs steamed in beer. I adored Lums. It came down in order for the high-rise in which I live now stands. At some point a few years back, we would not go out on a Weekend because getting back in to the building could be an ordeal, due to all the traffic queuing up. I did not mind the noise. After all I had chosen a building in the middle of downtown Grove. But there was more than one occasion when I got out of the car and walked the rest of the way home.

The point is, while it is wonderful to still see some things that persevere through time such as Greenstreets and Maya Hatcha and my personal favorite, the This & That Shop, it would be a colossal bore if everything remained the exact same.

The only thing that should ever remain constant is our ability to look back fondly. And of course, the trees, and abundance of which, as all the Facebook posts now keep telling us, has the same effect on us as being richer and younger.

I enjoy the walk along memory lane, but I am just as excited to look forward, eager to see new businesses coming to the Grove.

Liliana Dones

August 24, 2015 11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My answer to everything voteable is I don't vote Jobie Steppe.

August 25, 2015 9:51 PM  

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