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The only place for Coconut Grove, FL News, Views & Opinions - Sunlight is the best disinfectant

Friday, October 20, 2017

CGVC Candidates Forum - Hank Sanchez-Resnik

Nine seats are up for election on November 7, for the Coconut Grove Village Council. 15 people are running for the nine seats. The Grapevine is giving candidates a chance to tell their story as to why they deserve your vote.  We have asked all the candidates the same five questions and we'll post the results here as they come in. 

Hank Sanchez-Resnik

GRAPEVINE: Why do you feel you would be a good Village Council Member?

HANK: I’ve been a dedicated community activist for most of my adult life. I’ve participated actively in community affairs and decision-making in several different places where I’ve lived (primarily, before Miami, Berkeley, Calif. and Key Biscayne, Fla.). I’ve founded, led, and sustained five successful nonprofit organizations. I’m an excellent communicator and organizer. I keep my commitments and my word. People know they can rely on me to get things done.

G: What would you like to accomplish during your time on the Council? Objectives? Projects?

Hank Sanchez-Resnik
H: My main focus during my volunteer career has been transportation, especially promoting bicycling as a form of everyday recreation and transportation since I’m an avid bicyclist and rarely drive a car. I want to address the Grove’s transportation problems as a member of the Village Council, and I intend to participate in the Transportation committee. Improving conditions and infrastructure for bicycling benefits the entire community. It doesn’t mean everyone has to ride a bike. For various reasons some people can’t ride a bike. But when you improve safety and conditions for bicycling you also improve conditions for walking. And in order to do that you have to calm and slow traffic. Cars speeding through Coconut Grove on their way to somewhere else, often from somewhere else (not Grove residents) is one of our most serious transportation problems.

G:  What is your favorite part of Coconut Grove?

H: My house on Gifford Lane. My wife and I were thrilled when we bought the house. We had lived in another part of the Grove, and one of the reasons we moved to Gifford Lane (in addition to our former townhouse not being appropriate for our approaching old age) was Gifford Lane is our favorite street in the Grove. We’re active participants in planning and organizing the Gifford Lane Art Stroll. Our street and our neighborhood are our idea of a true community.    

G: What is your least favorite part of Coconut Grove?

H: The intersection of Grand, MacFarlane, and Main Highway. This is a complete abomination, ugly and unsafe for everyone who uses it. My dream is that someday there will be a beautiful island in the middle of the intersection separating and directing traffic and acting as a refuge for pedestrians, almost like a minipark. Even then it won’t be anywhere near one of my favorite places because my guess is there will always be far too much traffic, but at least it would be a lot better than what it is now.

G: How long have you lived in the Grove? Where are you from? What drew you here?

H: My wife and I moved to Coconut Grove in 2013. Prior to that we lived in Key Biscayne for seven years. And prior to that we lived in Berkeley, Calif. for 36 years. What drew us to Florida is that my wife, who’s Afro-Cuban, really wanted to be warm. The San Francisco Bay Area has about 10 warm days per year (in normal times—the current fire disaster is, I hope, an exception). So I agreed to try renting a place in the Miami area for a couple of months. It turned out the best and most affordable furnished apartment we found was in Key Biscayne, hard as that may be to believe, and our first year we rented for nine months. We were happy in Key Biscayne, rented for several years, then bought a condo. But Key Biscayne never felt like home. One day we joined a friend for dinner at his townhouse in Coconut Grove. Although we’d visited the Grove often while living on Key Biscayne and it was our favorite place away from the Key, we suddenly realized we belong in the Grove. Soon we’d sold our Key Biscayne condo and bought a townhouse in Center Grove. It was the best move we’ve ever made.
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As these forums come in, they will be all listed here for you to see.

 VC-Candidates-2017

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Is it more about development than a playhouse?

Michael Spring addresses
the audience.
The County hosted a meeting Thursday night regarding the latest plan for the Coconut Grove Playhouse. Michael Spring, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, and head of this playhouse project reinforced that the GableStage will be the operator of the playhouse, with 300 seats. He felt that was intimate and worked with the stage and the patrons. "It wasn't designed for chamber music or Broadway musicals," he said.

Bob Ingraham in the audience, brought up the 300 seats planned for the theater, which he felt was too small, he asked if it's more about building and development around the area rather than actual theater. Bob was the technical director of Ransom Everglades across from the playhouse, which has 1000 seats, by the way. He also worked with Sunrise Theater, Parker Playhouse and the Broward Center, which has two theaters - 2500 and 600 seats (they called "the small hall.")

He called the current state of the playhouse "designed neglect." He, as many do, felt that the current theater could be renovated and not destroyed just to usher in development around the whole area. 

The pending appeal was brought up. The City Commission will hear that next week. So I'm not sure what the point of this meeting was, other than to appease the developers and new land owners in the Grove. 


County's design for the Playhouse


One interesting thing that came up was that the debt owed to the city ($2 million or so) will be wiped out if a deal is made with the Miami Parking Authority to put a garage next door, which is part of the plan. Still a bone of contention are the condo units that will be part of the that garage.

It is becoming quite clear to many that the whole project is reversed. Rather than have a theater with amenities, the buildings and amenities now overpower a small theater, like an after thought. It's about the development opportunities, the playhouse is just an annoyance. 


Someone brought up the fact that part of the plan is to have a restaurant or two and a bar as part of the playhouse. How will this help businesses in the area if the whole thing is self contained? 

It seems as if Grovites will have no say in what they would like for the theater. Just the fact that this meeting was held on Flagler Street at the Miami-Dade Auditorium, was an insult. The auditorium was not very full and I suspect most Grovites are weary of the whole project at this point.

The current design renderings and drawings can be seen here.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Village Council candidates forum

The Coconut Grove Village Council is having a Candidates Forum to introduce the candidates for the upcoming elections.

Meet your fellow residents vying to serve their community on this elected body. Hear their vision for Coconut Grove and how they intend to help fulfill it.

The event is Friday October 20, at 6 pm at Miami City Hall, 3500 Pan American Drive.

Candidates are:
Johannah Brown
Rachel Cardello
Steve Dloogoff
Sacha DuBearn
Zachary Elliott
Greg Eversole
Marcelo Fernandes
Ijamyn Gray
Courtney Omega
S. Larissa Ozols
Eduardo Nagy
Hank Sanchez-Resnik
Thaddeus Scott
Jodi L. Stang
Linda Williams

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Shark After Dark Halloween Carnival

This is something new, sort of reminds me of when I was younger and they used to have radio station sponsored events on Halloween in Coconut Grove. They were usually on McFarlane or in Peacock Park, but on Friday, October 20, 104.3 The Shark is having an event in Regatta Park called Shark After Dark Halloween Carnival. 

From 7 to 10 pm, there will be carnival rides and a live concert featuring Walk on the Moon, Welshly Arms and The Heirs. Doors open at 6:30 pm.

The Coconut Grove Pumpkin Patch follows the next two days on Saturday and Sunday, October 21 and 22. More here.

The Shark After Dark Highlights:

Get lost in the cornstalk maze
Take fun, Halloween photo opps
Enjoy unlimited carnival rides included with your ticket
Rock out with a live concert featuring Walk the Moon, Welshly Arms and The Heirs
Drink up in our beer garden
Come dressed up – The best Halloween costumes win great prizes!
Enjoy everyone’s favorite fair food at our Pumpkin Food Court
Tickets are just $25 for general admission and $60 for VIP, but prices will go up! Get them here now ...Because this one is worth every single drop of blood you own!

VIP Tickets include General Admission, PLUS:

Prime concert viewing from our Shark Cage right up front
Private bar with 2 free, complimentary beers (for guests 21+)
10 Fast Line Coupons: Each coupon allows one guest to skip the regular standby line and use a special Fast Line at a carnival ride 

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Check out the Arbor, Coconut Grove's Boutique Eco-Living Community 
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Another Playhouse meeting

Commissioner Xavier L. Suarez, in conjunction with City of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell and Miami- Dade County School Board Member Maritere Rojas, is hosting a Town Hall Meeting to discuss plans for the Coconut Grove Playhouse, proper use of General Obligation Bond funds, and the Historic and Environmental Preservation Board (HEPB) that calls for restoration.  

Constituents and stakeholders are invited to attend as well as other prominent figures of the community.

Town Hall Meeting
Date and Time: Thursday, November 30
5:00 to 7:00 pm
Location: City of Miami City Hall, Chambers
3500 Pam American Drive.

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They are not happy with the County's Playhouse plan

 Katrina Morris posted this on one of the Facebook groups. I thought it was important to share it as you may remember that Katrina, along with Barbara Lange filed an appeal in April regarding the current Playhouse plans. 


Barbara Lange and I met with Michael Spring (Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, and head of this playhouse project), and the County to go over the proposed plans for the Coconut Grove Playhouse and Barbara and I walked out almost in tears. We had high hopes after a meeting with them in June that they would take the community's concerns into consideration while fleshing out their plans. This was so obviously not done.

The excuse we were given was that the original building was a movie theater and that it couldn't be restored, so they would just keep the facade, put in retail, restaurants, a parking garage and residences and demolish the theater and rebuild. Their plan to "incorporate original elements" is to stick them in the lobby with plaques.

I find this personally insulting. I think they chose the wrong firm for the job. As far as I know there was no bidding process (even though public funds will be used) and Arquitectonica was chosen without any public input. There is no doubt they are spectacular architects, but not for a restoration project like this. They are trying to modern the crap out of this thing.
I am attaching three images. One of the playhouse as it is now, one of a rendering by Richard Heisenbottle, who oversaw the restoration of the Colony Theater (which is gorgeous and was originally a movie theater) and the AMAZING Olympia Theater, and the Arquitectonica plan as it stands now. Please tell me what you guys think.
There is a community meeting tonight October 19 to discuss the plans. I encourage everyone to show up and voice their opinions.

Katrina Morris



Heisenbottle's design.


The current plan.

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If only it could last forever . . .

The City of Miami has implemented a moratorium on construction during the holiday season starting November 21 and ending January 2.

This includes Coconut Grove, Brickell, downtown Miami, Wynwood, etc.

All contractors and utility companies "shall be demobilized" and adhere to the requirements: all equipment and materials shall be removed from the right-of-way; all trenches shall be back-filled and restored with hot asphalt patch; all sidewalks shall be restored in like condition.

Utility companies will only be permitted to do emergency work.

This is fantastic. The Grove is impossible to get around these days, it seems like every other road is blocked or under construction. I forgot what it's like to just have peace and quiet in the village. Let's savor it for this brief period of time!

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

UM law students to discuss CRAs

Commissioner Ken Russell proposed a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) for the West Grove.

The Grove United Environmental Health Coalition will host law students from the University of Miami School of Law Environmental Justice Clinic for an educational presentation on the pros and cons of CRAs (Community Redevelopment Agencies).

The presentation will take place Thursday, October 19 at 6:00 pm at St. James Baptist Church (3500 Charles Avenue).

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Commissioner Russell is guest speaker at Rotary

Comm. Russell
District Commissioner Ken Russell is the guest speaker at the rotary luncheon on Thursday, October 19.  

First elected in 2015, Commissioner Russell is an International Business Executive having done business in over 40 countries. As Commissioner, it has been his goal to bring a new generation of leadership that seeks to usher positive solutions to City Hall.

Prior to his election Commissioner Russell was an activist for a better quality of life in Coconut Grove. He led the cleanup efforts for Merrie Christmas Park and founded an event that raised $125,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters. His priorities include forward-thinking transit solutions, smart development, reducing homelessness, prioritizing green space, and developing affordable housing initiatives in the City of Miami. 

Commissioner Russell will talk about the City's efforts in dealing with Hurricane Irma and its aftermath in the cleanup, as well as the issues of rising sea levels in the City. He will also address the need to renew the City's General Obligation bond that is on next month's ballot.  

Everyone is welcome.  RSVP to coconutgroverotaryclub@gmail.com.

The luncheon is at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club (2990 South Bayshore Drive) at 12:15 pm. The cost for lunch is $25.

Parking at the club is reserved for Sailing Club members; please park at local lots or on the street.

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Saying goodbye to our friends at 33 Kitchen

Chef Sebastian Fernandez and Leslie Ames of 33 Kitchen.

On Sunday, October 29, 33 Kitchen will say goodbye to Coconut Grove after two great years.

Chef Sebastian Fernandez and his wife and partner Leslie Ames, need to evolve and start working in their upcoming project, Leslie at Little Havana, their new restaurant which they plan to open in the fall of 2018. 

Sebastian is creating two restaurants at 7th Street, one with fresh ingredients over a wood oven and the second, more refined where he can create his recipes from around the World.

"In the meantime, this October, as a way to say farewell to our beloved Coconut Grove, we created a $33 Menu honoring the Peruvian food that put us in the spotlight as one of the best restaurants in Miami by The Miami Herald and Best Peruvian by the New times," says Leslie.

The $33  menu includes an appetizer, a main dish and a glass of Wine.

They will be taking reservations only these last days. You can make a reservation at 33kitchen.com, email at dinnerthirtythree@yahoo.com or by phone at 786-899-0336. 

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Village Council Candidates Forum - Steve Dloogoff

Nine seats are up for election on November 7, for the Coconut Grove Village Council. 15 people are running for the nine seats. The Grapevine is giving candidates a chance to tell their story as to why they deserve your vote.  We have asked all the candidates the same five questions and we'll post the results here as they come in. 

STEVE DLOOGOFF

Grapevine: Why do you feel you would be a good Village Council Member? 


STEVE: My business experience has instilled in me the importance of working as a team, and the ability to accept the responsibility of an issue, analyze it carefully and create reasonable solutions to resolve the issue.  As a retired business executive, I have the time and energy to contribute to the position of a member of the Coconut Grove Village Council.

G: What would you like to accomplish during your time on the Council? Objectives?
Steve Dloogoff

S:
Recognize we are one Coconut Grove, understanding there are specific issues that need to be resolved throughout The Grove. Respectably work with the entire community working together to resolve specific issues for in The Grove.  Projects? Affordable housing, Integrity in zoning of all Coconut Grove, Safe Bicycle Lanes, Crosswalk Safety in Center Grove, Replace trees that were lost in the storm, and raise private funds to plant 1,000 trees in 1,000 days, Residential speed limits, Attract new business to The Grove, and work to help resolve the Old Smoky issue. 

G: What is your favorite part of Coconut Grove? 

S: The togetherness of the community, tree canopy, the feeling that we are a community that cares for each other and all issues, as a small town community within a big city.
   

G: What is your least favorite part of Coconut Grove? 


S: The bureaucracy that exists between the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County.   Many times, neither one seems to take ownership of an issue, and will say:  “That’s a City of Miami Issue OR that’s a Miami-Dade Issue.  The preverbal: “good guy bad guy routine.”


G: How long have you lived in the Grove? 


S: 29 years, from 
Omaha, NE; a new job drew me here.



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As these forums come in, they will be all listed here for you to see.

 VC-Candidates-2017

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Another Grove Playhouse meeting is Thursday

The county sent out background materials regarding the Coconut Grove Playhouse meeting which is Thursday, October 19 at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium. I'm not sure why this is not inside the Grove, but that bothers me.  What's ironic is that this meeting would have been held inside the playhouse in better times.

So these are the current plans with changes made since the April meeting.  There have been other plans and ideas, but the City's HEP Board approved the county's plans. I really feel that this should have been voted on by the public. You know, have a bunch of plans, whittle it down to three and vote. 

This image above does not bother me except for the buildings all around the playhouse, but that's progress, I guess. It sort of reminds me of those old photos you see where there is one house standing or one building in 1909 or something, and then you see today's image of the same space and it's all high rises and the original building is gone or dwarfed.

The main issue is the main theater inside and that's going to be an on-going fight for a long time. Save it or rebuild it? That's the never ending debate.



The meeting is from 6 to 8 pm. Please RSVP here.

The material can be found here.

And the design renderings and drawings can be seen here.

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Welcome back to the Grove, Grovetoberfest!

Grovetoberfest came back to Coconut Grove on Saturday, they ended up at Miami Marine Stadium for a year. But now it's back in the Grove, but with a new and probably better location - Regatta Park.


As usually is the case, thousands came out for beer, music, food and lots of fun on a beautiful day. I can't help but smile when I look at these photos. This is what Coconut Grove is all about.
BizBash Florida has consistently put the festival on their Top Events list, and The Wall Street Journal included it in their coverage of iconic things to do in Miami. Recently, Yelp! placed Grovetoberfest and its sister craft beer festival, Sprung!, on their list of Top Ten Festivals. 


Grovetoberfest continues to be one of the top craft beer festivals in the country and the top festival in Florida. It attracts 6,500 beer enthusiasts and hundreds of breweries offering over 400 different brews. Many beer companies have used Grovetoberfest as a launching pad for new beers and even new brew houses. “A lot of brewers working here in Miami started off at Grovetoberfest; either as homebrewers or breweries in planning. The festival was the first time for them to meet the masses, and that’s something we’re very proud of,” explained Tony Abelo, head honcho.








Photos courtesy Grovetoberfest

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Monday, October 16, 2017

We have a new Police Commander

Our current Grove Police Commander Mike Gonzalez has been promoted to the rank of Major. Effective Wednesday October 18, he will assume new responsibilities in the police department and Coconut Grove will have a new Police Commander named Chiquita F. Thomas-Butler. Welcome to Commander Butler and congrats to Major Gonzalez.


Commander Butler
Commander Butler has 20 years of law enforcement experience all of which have been with the City of Miami Police Department. She is a proud graduate of Miami Norland Senior High, class of 1992. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership, and is currently preparing to pursue her PhD in Theology. She is also a graduate of the prestigious Southern Police Institute, Command Officer Development Course class #73. 

During her career, Commander Butler has had the opportunity to work in various capacities throughout the agency to include: the Problem Solving Team in Coconut Grove, Neighborhood Resource Officer in Coconut Grove, Criminal Investigations, and the Training Unit. 

Commander Butler has over 35 years of Martial Arts experience. She is a four time Florida Black Belt Association Champion and a two time Florida National Champion. She is also well trained in Armed Confrontations and Hand to hand combat. Commander Butler is also deeply rooted in the community and believes in serving the City of Miami’s residents as well as Miami Dade County at large to the best of her abilities. She is the president of her own mentoring program, Butler’s Angels, and serves as a member of the Coconut Grove Negro Woman’s Club, and is a past member of the Miami Bahamas Goombay Festival in Coconut Grove, Incorporated. She has been deemed an Unsung Hero by the Miami SOL and the Helen Bentley Family Health Center, Inc. of Coconut Grove. She was also honored as Law Enforcement Officer of the year by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. Commander Butler still considers it an honor and privilege to dedicate herself to serve the community.

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Check out the Arbor, Coconut Grove's Boutique Eco-Living Community
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Barktoberfest featured at The Spillover

The Spillover now has stone crabs and oysters and they are presenting Barktoberfest on Halloween, Tuesday, October 31 from 4 to 7 pm.

Activities include:  
-Dog Costume Contest.
-Trick-for-a-Treat Contest. Best dog trick performed wins!
-Collecting donations of dog food, dog beds, leashes etc. to benefit our local shelters.
-Photo booth w/ tons of fun props.
-Pumpkin painting for kids. 

The Spillover is at the Mayfair Promenade.

Vicky's House on Commodore Plaza is now serving a Halloween themed milkshake named "Gouls Just Wanna Have Fun." It's a chocolate milkshake with a cream cheese frosted rim dusted in Reese’s Pieces, topped with chocolate mousse whipped cream, Oreo cookie crumbles, and a Jack-O-Lantern Ice Cream Sandwich by @wynwoodparlor which is orange cake chocolate chip cookies with vanilla ice cream rolled in chocolate sprinkles.


Veteran's day November 10, Lokal on Commodore Plaza and and Spillover at the Mayfair Promenade will be offering a free PBR beer to all service members in uniform. 

And at their sister location. Kush Wynwood, they are featuring a Beer Float Party on Friday, October 27. 

It's an ice cream party with craft beer! Sweet Melody Ice Cream is featured, try one of these epic floats, which includes Founders Green Zebra Watermelon Gose paired with Key Lime Pie Ice Cream, Southern Tier Salted Caramel paired with Salted Caramel Ice Cream and MIA Kaptain Kush paired with Doughnut Cream Ice Cream.

Kush is located at 2003 N. Miami Avenue, Miami.   

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Is Bonobos Guideshop the wave of the future?

I have a friend who has a retail store here in the Grove. He brought up the Bonobos concept to me. "Will people be willing to order in the store and then walk out empty handed?" He asked? Who knows?

What he did tell me that I didn't know was that Wal-Mart bought Bonobos. For $310 million! So I assume Wal-Mart knows what they are doing. Wal-Mart also bought Jet.com and that is where Bonobos will be sold, other than the Guideshop and on their own website.

The rent on that corner is about $18,000 a month. That's a lot of money for a store that has no actual merchandise. But they do have a store that serves as a large billboard right in the center of town. Lots of cars pass there, especially during rush hour in the morning and evening.

True story: A guy walked in to buy a tie, he had gotten the tie he was wearing dirty, and he needed a new tie for an event. He found one he loved at the Grove Bonobos, but he couldn't take it with him! He needed it then and there.

My friend says that if this is the way that retail is going, then maybe there is hope for Mom & Pop stores which will have merchandise at the ready - leaving the larger stores to deal with the catalog sort of way.

I do like Bonobos but every time I purchase clothing online, it doesn't fit right and I am not a returner, so it ends up being a waste of money and something just thrown in the corner, never worn. With this concept, I can see the merchandise and get my sizes right and then whenever I want to order online in the future, I'll have the perfect fit. 


Bonobos is sort of a mixture of Service Merchandise and Amazon. Remember Service Merchandise and similar stores? You would order things from the catalog in the store, but you would receive the item up front at the registers and pay and leave. In Bonobos case, you order the merchandise and have it shipped to you.

Which reminds me of so many old tv shows and movies. The ladies would walk into a store, make a purchase and it would be delivered to them by messenger the same day. Ever see that? It would arrive within an hour or two, but the ladies did not have to walk out carrying the things they bought. 

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Mad Hatter presents the Come As Thou Art Gala

They are gearing up for The Mad Hatter Arts Festival, scheduled for November 18 and 19 this year at The Barnacle. 

To raise money for the event, there is a "Fun" Fundraiser for the festival - its called "Come as Thy Art" and it is a Costume Gala. This is Saturday, October 21 from 9 to 11:30 pm.

Come dressed as your favorite artist or art inspired theme, and proceeds 
go as donations to Mad Hatter Arts Festival.

The gala is at the Boswell Mourot Gallery (3162 Commodore Plaza). 

There will be drinks, food, music and a costume contest, and hopefully a silent auction.
Tickets are $35 on Eventbrite and $50 at the door. www.comeasthyart.eventbrite.com 

But first, there is a Cocktail Reception at the new condo site for Glasshaus at 3156 SW 27th Avenie on Friday October 20 from 7 to 9 pm, featuring art work by Hans Feyerabend. 
RSVP to naylet.jw@gmai.com.

For more info, please call 305-442-6866.

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Village Council Candidates Forum - Courtney Omega

Nine seats are up for election on November 7, for the Coconut Grove Village Council. 15 people are running for the nine seats. The Grapevine is giving candidates a chance to tell their story as to why they deserve your vote.  We have asked all the candidates the same five questions and we'll post the results here as they come in. 

COURTNEY OMEGA

GRAPEVINE: Why do you feel you would be a good Village Council Member?
Courtney Omega

COURTNEY: I believe I would be a good Village council addition because distinct  opportunities.  I have been blessed to experience different community cultures across the U.S. i have lived in several states as well as communities with various backgrounds and demographics. Community Service and civic engagement has been a family legacy as my grandmother was a two times commissioner and two times Mayor in Daytona Beach, Fl. Service is first choice but 2nd nature.

G: What would you like to accomplish during your time on the Council? Objectives? Projects?

C: One of my primary goals is to get more involvement in the civic engagement process for residents. Across coconut grove, there is a severe lack of the younger demographic's presence. I think there should be more of a concentrated effort to engage residents between 18 - 45. There is an initiative I have been working on called the Young Grove Alliance. I would hope with consensus from the council, we could organize efforts in broadening our reach and partnering for an impactful effect. Secondly, I plan to spend more time executing proactive plans to build accessible housing according to demographic sensitive data.
Improving transit and improving the areas to be even more walkable is also tantamount.

G: What is your favorite part of Coconut Grove?

C: Tough question! Too much to choose from.  While truly all of Coconut Grove is a treasure worth protecting, I definitely love my Florida Avenue home and the history of Florida Avenue. I also love  that it is truly in the center of the Grove. I'm close to everything. Whether Swimming at Virrick Park, making a quick run to CVS, lunching at the last carrot or taking in cultural activities at KROMA, I'm a few steps away. This is awesome for me as I do not own a car. I love the flexibility the area offers.

G: What is your least favorite part of Coconut Grove?

C: speeding through our quaint community concerns me. There absolutely needs to be a sidewalk built at McDonald and Florida. Often times while dropping my children to school at Coconut Grove Elementary, we are forced to share the road with cars. Also the speeding down McDonald to and from Grand is incredibly alarming.  One morning alone, two cars flicked off my children and myself as we crossed  McDonald one morning.

Grand Avenue has unfortunately become an eyesore however I am sure with implementing strategic business development, we can regain the appeal and luster of Grand Avenue of old.

G: How long have you lived in the Grove? Where are you from? What drew you here?


C: Though I was born in Daytona Beach, Florida the moment I met my ex husband while in my first year of college, a traveling and whirlwind adventure was born. During our marriage we lived in Arizona, Philadelphia, Virginia and North Carolina. I like to say i didn't choose Coconut Grove, the Grove chose me. As a divorced mom of two, after our marriage ended and with Kendall now being a memory, I set to find a place that was close to work at the Miracle Mile Theatre. After staying a weekend at the Mayfair, I was immediately enthralled with the cultural homes, the island vibe and the easy commute. I couldn't believe this was a place to live here in Miami. I'd been in South Florida for three years and thought communities like these were sweet dreams nestled in novels and Hollywood screenplays. Though my father is 100% Bahamian and we grew up loving conch fritters and conch salad, I didn't know what the culture truly meant. Upon being gifted "Forebearance" by Thelma Gibson, I dove in with thirsty eyes and a hungry vision.  After reading and studying and assessing,  I decided to figure out where I would be most effective,  in my home of Coconut Grove on a council that boasted such members of Coconut Grove's legacy.  I'm absolutely looking forward to serving in this capacity.  From community to culture and even the faith based presence, the Grove deserves to be resurrected,  respected and protected.  I'm here to serve residents,  neighbors, business owners, parents and our youth.  I am here because of the vision laid out by giants before me.

VC-Candidates-2017

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

BINGO at the Grove Woman's Club

It's BINGO time at the Coconut Grove Woman's Club again. Join in on Thursday, October 19 from 6:30 pm.

Admission is $5 for adults, free admission for children under 12. Cards are $1.00 each, minimum is five cards.

Free refreshments and snacks. Cash bar. 

Gift certificates and new exciting prizes. The Last game will be $1000 cash wtih full BINGO card of 46 numbers called.

The Club is at 2985 South Bayshore Drive. For info: 305-446-2909. All proceeds benefit upkeep of the Woman's Club.

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BOGO tickets for Viewing Vizcaya films


With the support of the Vizcaya family, the estate has come back strong from Hurricane Irma. As a thank you, enjoy a limited time offer for Buy One, Get One tickets with code "FILM" to the first community program of the fall season - the final edition of Viewing Vizcaya. General admission is $18 per ticket, but get two for the price of one here.


Vizcaya’s beloved movie night tradition is going out with a bang! The Centennial and final edition of this community film series takes place on Wednesday, October 18, with a selection of four films shown simultaniously. Take your pick with films of all genres, from horror and comedy.

Complimentary snacks will be served along with beer from Concrete Beach Brewery, all included in the ticket price. 

Doors open at 7:00 pm and movies start at sunset (approx. 7:15 pm) All movies will run simultaneously. Must arrive by 8:00 pm to be admitted to the program. Late arrivals and no-shows will not be refunded. Lawn chairs and related equipment not permitted on property.

THE MOVIES
The featured films all have a connection to the estate’s history and includes: 

-- House on Haunted Hill (1959) will be shown in the Courtyard, complete with an interview by Vincent Price, star of the film, at Vizcaya in 1967. The location will be decorated by event production company Unearthed Vintage.

-- Tony Rome features Ol' Blue Eyes himself (Frank Sinatra) and was filmed at Vizcaya in 1966. It will be screened on the East Terrace. Please bring your blankets.

-- On the west lawn, we'll show Absence of Malice (1981) with Sally Field and Paul Newman, filmed at Vizcaya in 1980. This space will have chairs and benches, but feel free to bring blankets for added cushion.

-- Iron Man 3 (2013) will be screened on the Garden Mound. The Casino housed in this located served as the hideout of the villain in the movie and will also serve as our backdrop for the evening. Please bring blankets.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

His argument is 'disingenuous and short sighted'

Mr. Snyder's argument that somehow the current NCD language should NOT be changed because it is working is disingenuous and short sighted.  

1. The current language has NOT worked at all for many years (walk down your blocks and count how many white boxes you see) until many neighbors, including Mr. Snyder and myself and many  others, started showing up at commission meetings, at the City Attorney's office, doing Public Records requests and actually READING the NCD.  The seminal moment in the turning of the tides was the denial of the BAttersea Woods plat.  After that big uproar the city decided it was time to "change" how they were interpreting the NCD and institute some "CRITERIA" to how warrants would be processed and ultimately how lot splits would or wouldn't be allowed . Make no mistake that Lot splitting IS currently ALLOWED in the NCD 3.6.g.1  states "No building sites in existence prior to September 24, 2005 shall be diminished in size except by Warrant, subject to the criteria specified in Article 4, Table 12 Design Review Criteria. Mr Snyder never quotes this part of the current NCD code but it is CRITICAL to the issue at hand. 

After Battersea Woods,  Planning and Zoning created an "internal memo" that was not codified but allowed the administrator to direct staff to put in place these criteria when reviewing warrant requests for lot diminishment. I have seen the memo and those criteria are a.)  Identify abutting lot frontages b) identify the average lot sizes in a 500 ft radius b) look at the underlying plats. From there P&Z  would determine along with criteria of Article 4 Table 12 if the lot split met the criteria and thus approve or deny. Mr. Snyder points to the two denials that have occurred recently (Avocado and Loquat) as reason now to make "No Change" to the current code because it is working.  Yes it is working but I for one vehemently disagree that we should lnot codify these criteria (as Coral Gables has) and leave it up to the descretion of the Planning and Zoning administrator. Mr. Snyder feels that the residents should simply "trust" that this memo will be followed without challenge or change. I disagree and would prefer those criteria (and others) are CODIFIED so that residents, developers and everyone is CLEAR on how this law works and will be implemented. 

2.) My Snyder continually refers to Coral Gables Code as NOT allowing lot splits -again very wrong.  Again, he quotes only one portion of the ordinance and leaves out the rest. Lot splits ARE allowed in Coral Gables.     However, what is different there is that they have...wait for it!....you guessed it codified criteria Article 3-206 Building Site Determination Pg 48-49 of the code (please read it for yourselves)  http://coralgables.com/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentID=7951lays out the very process for developers to use for a LOT SEPARATION and the very specific criteria that must be met in order to gain approval to, as Coral Gables words it, to "create a new building site"  - their version of splitting lots. These criteria are remarkably similar to the ones in the inter-office memo at the City of Miami Planning and Zoning dept as well as the initial new lot splitting language submitted to PZAB on July 31. 

Grove 2030, Grove Watch, Coconut Grove Village Council reps and others have been working for over a year to push the city to make changes.  And contrary to Mr.Snyder's accusations that somehow Grove 2030 has an agenda to urbanize Coconut Grove, our recommended changes on Feb 22 do exactly the opposite as Mr. Snyder himself acknowledges by saying there are some good ideas in the document.  For clarification the only reason they did NOT address lot-plitting originally(because it was so difficult to get consensus even in our own group on what those restrictions and clarifications should so we instead asked the city to come up with language to CLARIFY the code so that we could discuss  and review in public.  

Mr. Snyder has a right to his opinion on which language is better but making arguments without properly citing the facts leads one to believe he is either disingenuous or simply hasn't bothered to do his homework. 

I sincerely hope that all residents of the Grove can work together to come up with common sense solutions to the bigger problem of protecting the Character of the Grove. I can guarantee one thing, that those who are enjoying the loopholes a unclear and loose code provides must be reading all these posts of neighbor pitted against neighbor and loving the fact that we are getting bogged down with a silly back and forth.

Let's show up Saturday ready to work together. Come with your questions your comments your input and decide for yourselves, arm yourself with knowledge, read the code, ask questions, stay engaged. 

Johannah Brown
Coconut Grove

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Saint Kieran's Church is throwing a picnic on Sunday

Saint Kieran's Church celebrates Saint Kieran's Feast Day with a Family Fair and Picnic on Sunday, October 15.

There will be food, music, drinks and a ministry exhibiton. The event is from 11 am to 3 pm.

Tickets will be sold at the giftshop for $10 per person, which includes food, games and entertainment. T shirts designed by the youth for the fair also will be on sale for $10 each.

Saint Kieran is at 3605 South Miami Avenue.

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Distorted view of proposed NCD changes?

The letter to the editor of the Coconut Grove Grapevine by David Villano defending the current proposal amending ORDINANCE NO. 13114 presents a distorted view of the proposed changes to NCD code. One almost wonders if Mr. Villano read the proposed amendment. 

The proposed amendment would gut the code not strengthen it. The current language in the code which this amendment would remove is modeled on, and very similar to, Coral Gables code. It has been tested in the courts dating back to 1978 where justice Kehoe  stated: "The obvious intent of the Ordinance was to prevent developers, etc., from coming into Coral Gables, tearing down existing residences on large lots, and then building more residences on smaller lots"  (perhaps this should be added to the existing language so that everyone gets it) . See Holladay vs. Coral Gables 1980 3rd district court of appeals where the court found the critical language of the code to be within the purview of a municipality’s police (zoning) power.

Grove 2030 submitted to the commissioner's office a draft of proposed changes to the NCD overlay zoning regulations on February 22, 2017. That draft contained none of the changes in the current amendment proposal. That draft did not change the critical language in the NCD code which the current amendment would strike. While our board did not agree with all in the Feb. 22 proposal it did contain  some good ideas to which Mr. Villano refers in his letter to the editor. None of those ideas are in the current proposed amendment. 

This is the language to be stricken by the current amendment:

Wherever an existing single-family residence or lawful accessory building(s) or structure(s) is located on one or more platted lots or portions thereof, such lots shall thereafter constitute only one building site and

Here is the language from the Gables code "Wherever there may exist a single family residence or duplex building which was heretofore constructed on a building site containing one or more platted lots or portion thereof, said building site shall not hereafter be reduced or diminished in any manner and if said single family residence or duplex building is demolished or removed therefrom, no permit shall be issued for the construction of more than one such building on said building site."

The proposed amendment begins  "The intent of the NCD-3 is to preserve and retain a variety of Lot sizes. However there are property owners who want to diminish ( lot-split) an existing building site or Lot; therefore, the Planning Department has created minimum standards and criteria that must be adhered to."  (These are actually a smorgasbord of options developers and their attorneys and others can use to split building sites).

While people may want to buy large lots or large multi-lot sites, and split them into multiple small lots, that is against the law. See Holladay vs. Coral Gables 1980 3rd district court of appeals. In this case the court upheld and applied the critical language in the Coral Gables code. This established the standing law for the past 37 years. Let’s not strike the language. Let’s not let greed destroy the nature and character of our neighborhoods.

I am not a developer, realtor, real estate investor, and have no financial conflict of interest in this matter. Our Organization is grass roots. Our Goals do not include Urbanizing the single family districts of Coconut Grove, as it appears the goals of Grove 2030 do. How many members of the group which drafted this proposed amendment (not the 2/22/17 proposal) can say the same?

If you don't want lot-splitting (AKA diminishment), with the associated destruction of Canopy, try to show up and speak up at the workshop Saturday 9:30 am-12:30 pm at 4000 Grand Avenue.

John Snyder
President,
South Grove Neighborhood Association Inc.
savethegrove16@gmail.com

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