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Yes, it seems so nice from a distance, but ...
North Beach, Hallandale Beach, FL
North Beach, Hallandale Beach, FL
Earlier today I received an adroit comment regarding my post of last Friday titled, Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper's old threats & lawsuits re-emerge as Hollywood's Beach One Resort sues over its access to the beach, the latest shoe to drop in The Related Group's Beachwalk project that'd make HB's North Beach a de facto private beach for The Related Group's properties, NOT a public beach for HB residents
In just a few sentences, she managed to get to the heart of so many longstanding problems in this city: the unwillingness of elected officials and highly-paid city employees in charge to first acknowledge the problems and to solve them to the satisfaction of Hallandale Beach taxpayers residents, and business owners.
Instead, out of habit or personal preference, they either ignore, deny, or kick the can further down the road.
Or, as has often happened when I've publicly discussed these matters, found myself personally attacked for pointing out what everyone but them seems able to see right in front of our collective faces.
I went to this beach once and never again. I would rather drive to Hollywood boardwalk and spend money there and have my kids play in the sand and enjoy plenty of showers and clean beach.Maybe it's time to get up and sell and move from this town. All I see is our town being sold piece by piece to developers with absolutely no regard to the residents.Her comments are not unlike many I received over the recent years during the battle against Peter Deutsch's Ben Gamla Hebrew Charter School trying to force itself down the throats
of a single-family residential Northeast HB neighborhood, on N.E. 8th Avenue, with the promise of far more kids and traffic coming from outside of HB and southeast Broward than the neighborhood either wanted or could stand.
But associated with that issue was the related one that is the abject failure over the eight-plus years that I've lived here of Mayor Cooper and the City Commission and City Managers Good and Antonio to be serious and convene a citywide forum at the HB Cultural Center, say on a Saturday morning, run by a moderator and with experts present, where the city's educational problems and future could be FINALLY be discussed, calmly but honestly.
Frankly, it's as if everyone at HB City Hall was so afraid that the truth would be uttered by so many dozens and dozens of HB parents that it would actually hurt someone else's feelings, so instead, we simply had to just pretend, year-after-year, that the problem didn't really exist.
But it did and it still does.
Specifically, that would mean publicly airing a problem that I've written about here on the blog a few times but which nobody at HB City Hall wants to publicly acknowledge, but which as everyone who has lived here for any amount of time knows, is one of the main reasons that families move away from Hallandale Beach: the popular perception that the nearest public high school, Hallandale High School, is unsatisfactory and a poor educational choice.
So instead we have either White Flight to the more western suburbs of this county, or high school age kids attending private or charter schools located outside of this city.
That's NOT how you build a community -or keep one intact.
But year-after-year this problem has been allowed to exist below the radar.
And equally so, the awful conditions of this city's public beaches, which clearly ought to be a jewel and natural meeting place for the community, but which isn't.
Which, of course, explains why you are much more likely to run into someone you know from HB at Hollywood Beach, near Johnson Street on the Broadwalk, than you are at HB's own beaches.
People have and are voting with their feet -and their cars.
I'm now going to quote myself.
From my January 19, 2009 blog post titled, Welcome to Hallandale Beach: where old cigarettes and condoms party at the beach that HB Cops ignore!
As we all know from our travels, in many if not most American communities fortunate enough to have a beach, especially those dependent on tourism, the beach is an invaluable resource that's esteemed, treasured and given extra care and concern.
It's a place where city officials and elected officials constantly visit and hover around to keep track of not only its physical and aesthetic condition, but also to gauge the mood of resident and visitor beach-goers to see if there's any problems or concerns there they need to be aware of.
They are pro-active, NOT reactive and slothful and full of excuses as they are in Hallandale Beach.
That public sentiment is often an early indicator of the residents' collective feeling about the town itself, since when resident taxpayers feel that a place as high-profile as the beach is going downhill, and not being properly looked after, it's only natural that they suspect that other things in the city they can't see are falling apart, too.
It's only human nature, but it's something the City of Hallandale Beach has been in utter denial about for years, as one problem after another has been left to fester there.Yet when confronted with the reality, they've instead put their heads in the sand.The evidence is all around you.
Yes, from there, everything always looks fine!
Above, July 26, 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier.
But once you've parked in the garage (the one that the mayor seems perfectly willing to give away) and were actually standing on the beach, you could tell that it was as filthy and unappealing as ever, though to be fair, for once, I didn't find any condoms or liquor bottles over near the rusty pipes that have been on the beach for years...
Snapshot of a poorly-maintained public beach: Finding a used condom near one of the only two park benches at 4 p.m., on a Friday holiday afternoon on a beach full of families. January 2, 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier
It could hardly be clearer that HB City Hall and their DPW leadership STILL won't accept ownership of the longstanding problems there.
They act like residents who pay taxes for that beach to be properly maintained CAN'T see what has been in front of us for years and we don't know who is responsible.
They're wrong -we do.
We know EXACTLY who is responsible!
The very problems I telephoned DPW about two weeks ago -FROM the beach- which they said they'd take care of.
Among other things, that included the city's Beach sponsorship signs that we've seen there for the past few years, were still lying on the ground, not properly erected.
And were far from where they were supposed to be.
Like last time we were there.
And the week before that...
And the month before that...
According to the life guards, the sign on South Beach has been under the lifeguard stand -that STILL has graffiti on it- for easily 3 or 4 months, waiting for DPW to do the job they're paid to do -basic maintenance.
It's only further proof to me that, as I've been stating for years, the look and care of the public beaches has fallen so far below what is acceptable, that we should immediately take it away from a clearly-ineffective and dis-interested DPW, and privatize the function, just like the beach life guards are actually contractors for Jeff Ellis, not city employees.
A firm given the money that was previously appropriated to DPW for beach maintenance, and which has properly maintaining an attractive and safe beach as their only function, knowing that if they fail they'll be replaced.
I believe that almost anyone we choose would do a MUCH-SUPERIOR job by us as taxpayers then continuing to expect a dog that clearly won't hunt, like DPW, to suddenly learn to hunt.
Obviously if this happens, there also needs to be a commensurate cut in personnel numbers for DPW, since I'm certainly NOT going to reward DPW for doing a terrible job by letting them keep the same number of employees, since actions and consistent poor performance must have consequences, and that should include some for Hector Castro himself, the DPW Director.
So where exactly is Hector Castro on this matter, and WHY is it that he is never grilled about this longstanding failure at HB City Hall, when it's clearly a big enough and obvious enough problem that even Joy Cooper apologists were mentioning it at the June 6th City Commission meeting?
And why was his immediate predecessor or Antonio or Good never grilled, either?
Where is the personal and professional accountability at HB City Hall?
By the way, the life guards stands we have on the beach are NOT properly "grounded" for lightning strikes, which is both a liability issue and a maintenance issue.
Rather than have the city hand-over de facto control of the public beach called North Beach, so The Related Group can make it a boutique beach that caters largely to their residents and hotel clients for their three properties within four blocks of that location at the Hollywood-
Hallandale Beach city-line, and also maintain control of the public parking garage, too -both for thirty years- we should tell the City Commission to tell TRG, thanks but no thanks.
But do go ahead and build the hotel you can already build, because that is something that nearly everyone in the community agrees we need.
But build it WITHOUT the condo units, and WITHOUT tossing the North Beach parcel in as a sweetener -to a real estate corporation!
Then, we vote in November for a mayor and city commissioners who take their job as public representatives seriously, who actually DO their homework, read the background documents fully and who actually show-up for HB City Commission meetings ready, willing and able to ask tough, probing questions of city staff and applicants, for the benefit of this city's taxpayers, NOT for the benefit of developers or a certain group of people in town used to having their way.
And after those sort of people get elected in November -and they are NOT named Joy Cooper or members of her Rubber Stamp Crew named Anthony A. Sanders and William "Bill" Julian- they can instruct our new City Manager, Renee Crichton, that owing to the longstanding neglect of the city's public beaches for years, fixing the public beaches is now deemed a HIGH PRIORITY, and she needs to come back to them within thirty days with some realistic proposals to make that a reality -ASAP!
One that also includes the possibility of the city privatizing the maintenance of the beach so that it properly reflects the fact that 13 years ago, the people of this community overwhelmingly voted to "put the beach back into Hallandale Beach."