Saturday, October 24, 2009

Surfside Library Closed

Dried up in the Swamp

The Surfside Community Center was just that, the center of the community. It was mistakenly demolished several years ago and so all we got is a barren lot with an ocean view that is closed to the public as if some old indian bones were found during the dig.

Closed Encounters of the Literary Kind

The old community center provided the residents of Surfside with a great big swimming pool, a nice little cafe, a comfortable assembly hall, a game-room and, no less valuable, our very own little library. The staff was courteous, dedicated and perfectly bookish. There were always people there. After the demolition, all the books and other resources were crammed into a miscerable windowless trailer in a parking lot behind town hall.

Reading Between the Lines.

A long time ago our founding fathers, after incorporating, decided to opt out of Dade County Library Tax and opened their own library with town tax revenues. It was not the library of congress but it was good enough for the times, a time before the internet. I remember growing up in Miami starving for information, spending hours downtown, always wanting more books, mags, papers. Availability was the issue, today it's the opposite, info-overload.

Quiet Please - Children Thinking

Some of my fondest memories of living in this quit seaside town was taking kids to the community center and library. My daughter and I would spend hours in the children's book section rummaging through old books. Those were valuable quality of life experiences no longer available to new families in town. Maybe the demand for such resources has changed but the human experience remains.

I Read a Book Once

A world without books is like a house with no kitchen.



  1. Why not attend a Surfside commission meeting and SPEAK UP! Your politics seems to assume that people are either at the mercy of Bush the Horrible or liberated by Obama the Mesiah. If you can't make a difference in tiny Surfside then where can you?

    Loud on Froude

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  3. Loud, thanks for sifting this blog.

    Yes, all politics IS local. I try to make a difference one person at a time.

    Assuming you attend meetings, what was your contribution to the community center demolition/debacle.

    BTW it's: Bush/Cheney, lying cheating stealing criminal war profiteers.

    "O the mesiah" that is code for "I'm a tea-bagging insurgent birther".

  4. Along with others I pointed out that the 40 year inspection of the old center revealed that the main building was "in remarkably good condition and a fine example of MIMO architecture." The smaller building which was east of the main and housed the pool bathrooms and snack bar was an add on and definitely in a deteriorated state. That could have easily been torn out and those functions replaced in a low cost form. The "pool shock incident" while perhaps not a complete hoax could have been solved and it was well known to this commission that the pool needed extensive work to bring it to code. The difference between a new pool and rehabilitation of the old would have amounted to about $1.3 million. I am certain that rehabilitation of the old main building and new construction of the strictly utilitarian restrooms and snack bar would have come in under $9 million, making for a $10million project. Don't forget we lost a $500,000 grant from the State of Florida for the library. Oh and at the time, the pool and the library (according to the only written definitive study that the town ever did) were the major amenities that residents wanted.

    The project became bloated after the fairy tale charette chairman and his followers insisted the center needed gyms, waterfalls, Jacuzzi, indoor basketball courts, wave pools, slides, kosher kitchens, ballrooms, etc etc and these folks felt that property values and taxes would just go up an up to pay for it. While not explicitly said the motto was: "stick it to the new people and the snowbirds" who don't have the homestead exemption and are paying top dollar.

    Like you Swamp I try changing peoples minds one person at time. Perhaps Swamp, some of us can get together and form a synergy for a BETTER Surfside, interested in the benefit of all and not just the noisy few.

  5. On the community center issue, I agree with you 110%. The demolition was not just a blunder but a calculated deception, albeit with some good intention. Many disgruntled resident know this intuitively. Thanks for your efforts, perseverance and decorum.

    We would benefit from an online forum similar to the now closed Surfsider... a neutral place away from town hall devoted to Synergy for Surfside!

    You are correct, it is "boots on the ground" that get desired results.

  6. And a THANK YOU for the blog Swamp. As an art lover I enjoy it. We do have some amazingly diverse views and people here in peaceful little Surfside. A microcosm indeed.

    Perhaps your comment on "deception but with good intentions" is reflective of all politics and polititans in their distrust of the populace to make the right decision on their own with simple straight forward facts.

    Your idea about the blog is a good one. I'd love to see one on the town's website!

  7. Money for a "Charette" over half million dollars - no problem all town officials rush to spend it.

    Money for paying town officials 500a month even though the town charter says one dollar per year --no problem.

    Money for elected officials to travel, stay at hotels, eat meals, each get new computers to take home, and to cover all kinds of politically directed expenses? No problem.

    Money for outside contractors to get paid big bucks (MILLIONS) while producing nothing -- no problem.

    Money to take out of town reserve savings accounts to sqaunder on what seem to be shady deals and payments and contracts so money flows but the town sinks and sinks -- no problem.

    Money for continue a great town library? Problem.

    Money to maintain town faciities and services? Problem.

    Money to improve the town? Problem.

    So what do they do -- town officials jack up all fees and charges to town residents, give us alot less while making us pay alot more, and they inundate us with their self movtivated praise for who else? Themselves. What a sick situation has come about in our Surfside. And now they want to push thru charter changes that grease their wheel?

  8. No money for a library but over $300,000 to issue interest free mortgages to the two homeowners on Abbott avenue who don't even pay property taxes?

    Oh but they are friends of your Mayor! How corrupt is that town?

  9. RE: Community Center:
    While we residents may have disagreed about whether to demolish the old Community Center and build new versus renovation – had we been given ALL the facts, allowed to vote on this issue the subject could have been decided democratically. Instead, it UNNECESSARILY became a divisive issue – a Community Center that brought people together – these so called leaders or representatives managed to inevitably have the Center become a boondoggle which DIVIDED THE TOWN. Can you imagine...they didn't even have a plan as to how to pay for a replacement Center!!!
    Joe Graubart

  10. RE: Town of Surfside - Charter - PART I
    Article II Town Commission - Sec. 7. Salary.
    Commencing with the term of office, beginning at 8:00 p.m. on the day following the General Election, the mayor and members of commission shall be paid the sum of one dollar ($1.00) per fiscal year for attendance at monthly council meetings, irrespective of the number of regular or special meetings attended within such fiscal year.
    (Res. No. 968, § 1, 7-26-76)
    Public Records Requests(dated 11/24/09) Show: Town of Surfside Issued a FORM – 1099 for Year 2008 TO: Howard Weinberg – Total on FORM – 1099 = $6,000 ($500. per month Please Note: This $6,000 was on top of expenses submitted.)
    For 2009 Comm. Weinberg will be issued a W-2 Form (This, as he is really receiving a salary?)
    Gross Pay: $500. Less: Soc Security $31.00 – Less: Medicare $7.25 = Net Pay $461.75
    Now, I’m no lawyer – but, is there anything that one could have difficulty in understanding either the Charter's - ‘letter of the law’ or its intent of this Section? I don’t see anywhere in the Charter where it states – ‘It’s OK if you want to take a $500. per month “stipend” – just go ahead and do it?!?!'
    Joe Graubart

  11. The new Community Center is a project that could have and should have cost less than 2 million dollars. In reality it cost more than 10 million dollars total. Town administrators are playing with federal funds, state funds, and millions of dollars of local funds taken from Surfside town taxpayes. Some is very very wrong in this situation but is there going to be a complete uncovering?