I put their responses, and a few of my own, into my annual awards list, 2013's The Year That Was. Let's kick it off with something good,
TEAR THAT SUCKER DOWN!
After watching the Grove's huge convention center collect weeds for years, they're finally demolishing it.
It looks so much larger when pulled apart.
City Hall tells us it's getting replaced by a park. It is up to us to make sure the city's park plan makes sense.
The "new park" is getting off to a bad start as the City builds the
The new Dinner Key Marina Dock Master's office with the existing one on the right.
It looks like this four-story view-blocking monster will allow the master of the docks to throw huge parties.
LAST YEAR'S "WINNERS" could also be on this year's list. The Coconut Grove Playhouse remains an empty eye sore, you still can't see the bay from seaside parks, and those cute but useless information booths continue to block downtown sidewalks.
PEACOCK PARK actually got worse. The community center (the "Glass House") has been abandoned for a year. It could be an outstanding community center where we gather, play, share, and learn. The south porch continues to be
a campground for the homeless.
This colorful tile bench was installed in '13 and
six months later, removed. I don't know why.
I also don't know why the City gave part of Peacock to the private school next door.
The City of Miami let them build a fenced-in soccer court. They use it for PE in exchange for ... nothing.
City officials announced the public would be allowed to use it after school hours. They lied.
It is locked and only the school and the parks department has the keys. Friends have tried on multiple occasions to use the court (or rent it) only to be turned away. It has become the school's exclusive Peacock Park playground.
The only welcome improvement is the Commissioner Marc Sarnoff Rubber Pit. He had this 80 feet of fun built just west of the Glass House.
A couple of months ago I rolled around in the shreds to see how much fun it could be.
I hear its the first step in turning Peacock into a new eco-tourist attraction, "Garbage World". In 2014 they will build "Marc's Crazy Maze" next to the pit, 2000 discarded pool noodles hanging from the oak trees nearby.
The West Grove Gets Dumped On Again Award goes to the new Douglas Road Trolley Maintenance Facility. The neighbors didn't want it but the developer and Comm. Sarnoff did so, it got built. Courts now say it violates zoning laws. As a result, it now sits empty and forlorn like so many other West Grove buildings.
Next to Biscayne Bay, Coconut Grove's greatest asset is its people.
Consider how many Grove citizens dress up on the second Wednesday of each month, for our new event, "Crazy Hat Afternoons".
I can not get enough of these Groveites and their creative extremes! I'll be strutting on Main Highway next Wednesday in my fluorescent fedora and I expect you to do the same!
Most of them are artists and they sell their wares at the BEST ART EVENT, the annual Gifford Lane Art Stroll. Unlike February's mega art fest, this mini-fest features Grove artists and it costs nothing to attend.
Come to the next one on Sunday, March 2. Gifford Lane is one block NW of Coconut Grove Elementary School.
The 2013 ACTIVIST OF THE YEAR AWARD goes the South Grove's, Charles Corda. Mr. Corda is just what our city officials hate, citizens who question them, people who stand up to power.
While Francesca and I were away for the summer our city commissioner, Mark Sarnoff, came up with an awful idea, replacing one of our favorite restaurants, Scotty's Landing,
with a Don Shula's Steakhouse and a "Grove Bay" mini-mall.
It was an absurd idea, a stupid idea, an idea that many of us first thought was a joke.
Scotty's represents what we love about Coconut Grove. It sends a cool vibe that says, "Anyone can come here, listen to live music and have a beer by the bay".
Charles immediately sprang into action with a petition that quickly garnered 3000 "Stop Grove Bay" signatures. His efforts transformed into a coalition that fought Sarnoff's Grove Bay plans.
There was a November election. Most folks in the Grove voted against Sarnoff's proposal. Unfortunately, the rest of the City of Miami was allowed to vote as well. Outspent, 25 to 1, the Grove lost to Sarnoff and his developer buddies.
We commend Mr. Corda & friends for their valiant effort.
The BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT Award goes to Scotty Wessel. After initially fighting to keep his rustic cafe, he was bought out by the Grove Bay developers. Money doesn't talk, it screams
Scotty's Landing was one of our main venues for live music. They say they will build something like Scotty's away from the water but who knows what and when.
Music makes everything better. The BRING ON THE SONG Award goes to our own Barnacle State Park. Their monthly concert series continues to be one of our few outstanding community attractions.
Bobby Ingram & Friends will be playing there on Friday, January 10th. 500 hundred of us gathered there a year ago for great music and a great time.
Come next Friday. You'll be glad you did.
Runner-up awards go to the Grove churches
( St. Hughes, Plymouth, and others) who present intimate concerts and, the Grove's own Alhambra Orchestra.
Their next concert will be on Sunday, January 26. The free event, "South Florida's Got Talent", will have some of our area's most outstanding young musicians performing backed by a full orchestra.
It will take place at 7:30 pm in the Ransom-Everglades Auditorium, a block south of our haunted playhouse.
The BIGGEST SCREW-UP OF COLOSSAL PROPORTIONS AWARD goes to the City of Miami. Their parks and sanitation departments conspired years ago to dump poisonous contaminants on public properties which later became public parks. As we all know, many of Coconut Grove's parks have been shut down and fenced off because of "the poisons below". To add to this killer joke, the Center Grove's Blanche Park is now covered with Astroturf which we are told, "seals off the chemicals that could hurt you".
Like Scotty's, this one also sounds too bad to be true which leads us to the final award, the
IS THIS A GREAT CITY OR WHAT STRUT AWARD which goes to Coconut Grove's 2013 King Mango Strut parade. The annual event has had a long reputation for making fun of the City of Miami, its annual problems, and its often-arrested officials.
This year there was no mention of the City's problems because the City of Miami now controls much of the Grove parade. This is because it decides who gets a parade permit and helps pay for the satirical event. As a result, the City now decides what you can laugh at.
-Park kids playing in hazmat suits?
-The Funeral for Scotty's Landing? and the
-Chorus singing "Crandon Bridges Falling Down"?
I know this parade and it was a shock to learn from friends (I didn't go) that these parts were missing.
That day I was visiting the winner of the BEST NEW COUNTRY Award, the Mango Republic.
If the Grove doesn't figure out how to get its act together, you can expect many people to move there.
Let's hope we can restore some of the faded glory of Coconut Grove in the coming year. Maybe someone will finally do something with the playhouse, Peacock Park, and cart the park poisons away.
It's a new year. Step up, speak your mind, and maybe the good guys will win a few in 2014.
Signing out for another year,
The Grove Guy