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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Another long night of Grove Playhouse talk

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and
City Commissioner Ken Russell
Thursday night's Coconut Grove Playhouse Town Hall Meeting at City Hall was packed. Every seat was taken, people were standing in the back and people were also sitting on the floor.

County Commissioner Xavier Suarez conducted the meeting and present were our City Commissioner Ken Russell, County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and other movers and shakers who are involved or would like to be involved with the Playhouse.

Michael Spring who is in charge of the County's plans for the playhouse spoke, Richard Heisenbottle spoke (here are his plans), Mike Edison spoke (he has been involved with cultural affairs in the county for years and has his own plan). But it was all the same old same old back and forth until our Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera spoke. Carlos is humble, he is quiet and when he speaks, it's like EF Hutton - everybody listens.

Carlos has been involved with the playhouse since the beginning, we are at this point thanks to Carlos. He is the one who drafted legislation which set up the reverter clause, where the playhouse can only be used to produce plays otherwise it reverts back to the state. He is the one who fought off the corrupt board in 2006 who ran the playhouse into the ground and still wanted compensation after it closed.

He stood before the county commission back then and told them to not give the board another dime.

Carlos said he was frustrated over the inaction after all these years. He laid the groundwork but nothing has been done. When Carlos was our State Representative in 2010, he sent an email to the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) regarding the Coconut Grove Playhouse. He asked for various options in regard to the reverter clause.

Within the deed is a reverter clause which states that the property “shall only be utilized for theater, theatrical productions, theatrical education or related arts uses and uses supporting same as currently permitted under the Playhouse Sublease.”

Here is Carlos' email to the DEP:
Ubiquitous blue shirts at
Thursday's meeting.

"It is my understanding that the current use of the property may violate the restriction and cannot be cured within the time provided in the deed. Therefore, I respectfully request that the Department of Environmental Protection investigate this matter in order to determine all available options, including the possibility of the property reverting back to the state as well as who may take possession of the property once it is under the control of the state."

Up to to this point, nothing has been done and every deadline has been missed by the county. Michael Spring has done nothing according to Carlos. "I am fed up that we cannot get anything done in this community," he said.

Carlos also said, "I have serious concerns about GableStage's ability to run the playhouse." And this is not the first time I heard this. Currently they pay no rent and never fill the small amount of seats they have in their theater.

Carlos said that GableStage has not put any money up toward the Coconut Grove Playhouse and they have not shown that they can run the operation.

It was a bit offensive that a lot of "blue shirts" were present, sort of like the "yellow shirts" have been seen at other meetings. These blue shirts were on the GableStage/County's side for their proposal to go through. Their shirts said, "Grove Stage," which of course does not exist.

Our Commissioner Ken Russell seemed to be in agreement with Carlos Lopez-Cantera when he said, "I don't want us to lose our past by demolition by neglect. He said that is not going to happen. Ken says money is not an excuse for not getting the job done.

The talk went back and forth between a 300 seat and 700 seat theater. Mayor Gimenez said that if the money can be raised, he is in favor of a 700 seat theater.

Developer Jorge Perez of the Related Group stood up at the podium and said, "Reject other plans!" He is in favor of the County plans with Michael Spring and Joe Adler as the theater director, and the people they had wearing blue shirts. Ironically it was Perez and his Related Group that had people showing up during the Mercy Project period wearing yellow shirts.

In the end, I didn't stay for the 45 residents lined up to speak. After Carlos Lopez-Cantera made his speech, it was the "drop the mic" moment for me and it was all over for the night.

In the end, nothing was decided. That's how these playhouse meetings go.

Our Coconut Grove Peacock T-shirts & Mugs are the perfect gift. See them here.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot figure why so many people waste so much time on a project that is doomed.

December 01, 2017 8:48 AM  
Blogger Liz Gibson said...

Carlos, my favorite republican

December 01, 2017 10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jorge, my least favorite republican

December 01, 2017 2:57 PM  
Blogger C.L.J. said...

Whoever told you that GableStage does not pay rent and does not fill their current venue is flat-out lying. They DO pay rent to the Biltmore for their venue, and they regularly sell out their houses.

I've been working in professional theatre in South Florida for over 30 years. GableStage is the perfect organization, and anyone who says different simply doesn't know what they are talking about.

December 01, 2017 5:31 PM  
Blogger C.L.J. said...

A follow-up on the flat out lie about GableStage not paying rent:

Please correct the article! I understand that you might disagree with the plans, but that does not excuse posting false information.

December 06, 2017 9:26 PM  

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