Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Hotel Is Not a Home

Taking a swim in the splendid waters of South Florida, one would think there are no problems in paradise. A daily dunk in the Atlantic is by far the single most rejuvenating lifestyle choice in the swamp. Yes there is the occasional tide of jellyfish or obnoxious tourists on Jetskis but the trouble begins where the ocean ends as the sands of time drift to earth-bound dilemmas. Sussing out the poop from the paradise is the domain of watchdogs and naysayers. The muted sirens are the whistleblowers.

From the rubble of the old Surfside Community Center arose the new phoenix of family fun facility. The town is thumping its chest with self-congratulatory cliche, but the new center will not resuscitate the old heart of the community that was plowed over with the demolition of the old. The new place must win new hearts and new minds to endue itself a sense of home.

Gone with the classic MiMo architectural gem is the town's quaint library, the cheesy snack bar, the swim team and the kids that are soon away to college. Gone are the guests of residents now no longer permitted by the town's new policy of exclusion. With that said, there is a new dawn in Surfside, albeit with many of the same old players.

In the interest of transparency, inclusion and whatever, here below is a comment verbatim on the state of local affairs as opined by one anonymous contributor recently. I am only the messenger:

"Federal money being corrupted. State and local money being corrupted. Where is it going - there is no outside view. All information comes from Surfside Town Hall. Is it credible? Accurate? Or not. How many layers of smoke and blankets are covering up where the money has gone, where it is going, and who is ending up with it. "Contributions" in exchange for zoning "favors"? Changing laws and systems to facilitate administrators and lawyers selling the public out to avarice?

Since the birth of America, men and women have fought and died to protect our nation, our democracy, and our right to vote. Our community here in Surfside Florida has traditionally recognized Independence Day, Veterans Day, and Memorial Day and honored our nation, its military and veterans,through times of both war and peace and we are proud of our town’s long standing ideals. lf only they were not being disrespected by our own town government.

On this day in 2011 we must sadly recognize that right here in our own community, the Town of Surfside, we are being denied the right to vote. Denied the very rights that Independence Day is all about. Town officials have adamantly refused to comply with the Town Charter and as a result we have not been allowed to have a referendum — no public votes - on critically important matters such as:

—- dozens of no-bid contracts given out, siphoning off & depleting the town’s savings

-— the needless demolition and destruction of the beautiful, historic Community Center

-- the expenditure of millions of dollars of town savings (far more than is being admitted to by Town Hall) for demolition and to build a new and smaller Community Center with no Auditorium or Library, to be run on a deficit basis

—— the sell-out and complete changing of the Town's zoning code to vastly increase allowable development, density and congestion

—— the Town going into debt for 16 million dollars plus 9 million in interest and fees to replace the entire water and sewer system to expand capacity for future development in Bal Harbour and Surfside while simultaneously soaking our residents with enormiously increased, oppressive water and sewer bills.

Surfside is being run far more like a dictatorship than as a participatory democracy. Town officials provide cover for the drain of town money, and they let developers write zoning laws to suit their agenda.

Special interests reign and manipulate all official decisions.

lt is a disgrace that we have been refused the right to vote on such crucial issues. The community has been permanently damaged as a result. We need help! to have our Town Hall return to the ways of the Public Interest and to abandon its current priority of serving special interests at our expense.

Our wallets, and our quality of life, are being ripped off!

Don’t be deceived by town officials’ false, contrived, bullying rhetoric."

Do we see a parade of cement truck in our near future ? Only the schmoracle knows.


1 comment:

  1. Soon after one zoning blowout project was approved for 92nd Street, another developer – going under a newly assumed name – proposed an even larger hotel for Collins Avenue and 94th Street, a scheme to more than triple the size of the pre-existing hotel on that property. Just before asking for huge zoning increases, the developer made a little “donation” of $15,000 (for a $10,000 fireworks display!) that the Town Manager wanted to fund from the ‘outside’. The Town Manager and Town Attorney tried to keep the identity of the “donor” secret. The property was purchased for $25 Million - a price far higher then currently appraised – because the buyer knew – in advance – that the property would quickly be vastly upzoned to accommodate maximum private profits. The property was purchased in cash, no financing reported. The Town Attorney, Town Manager, and ‘Town Planner’ all pushed and it was “approved” 4-1 despite major violations of the Town Charter. The attorneys for the developer? The same ones as for the developer of the first bloated project, the ones who are also the lawyers for the “Town Planner” an outside contractor company - and they also represent the “Town Engineer”. “Town Engineer”? That very same outside company, now replacing all water and sewer pipes in the entire town at a cost of over $16 million dollars (+ $9 million more for interest and fees). New water/sewer system? The cover story is about leaky old pipes, but no other community in the country is replacing and increasing the capacity of its entire system. Pipes could have been lined – inner coated - to seal leaks. It is really about more capacity, bigger pipes -facilitating major new overdevelopment. They changed zoning laws, denied citizens the right to vote – a right guaranteed by the Town Charter - and they are using public money to try to remove any issues of ‘utility concurrency’.