Grrr Woof Woof! – Picture

Near my house there is a park. 

The park is a place of native plants in a manicured setting.  It’s not much from a city park standpoint, it’s a small place where you can commune with nature while sitting on a giant copper butterfly.  There is a plinth with another copper butterfly on it.  It’s not meant to be an exercise park or a fishing park or a place to run wild with the gators.  This is a place for quiet contemplation of things that are native and watch the world drive by on the way to other places.

That is exactly why I like it.  It is a place reserved for nature in a very crowded South Florida area.  

Unfortunately others aren’t so civic minded and walk their dogs by without cleaning up after them.  This gentle reminder of what should happen is one that is used all over North America.  It also serves to get a smile out of me when I see it.

I wonder if we can get a dog bag dispenser and a trash bin for that spot?

The Work Continues – Demolition of Old City Hall

Yesterday, I had pictures of the front and the side of the building.  This is what the inside of the building looks like from the window near the City Clerk and City Manager’s office.  Dawn Walker, Joe Gallegos and Bob Mays would have sat near or at this spot.  Now its an open space.

Turning to the right this is the view through what was Finance toward the main entrance where Charlie and Joy sat.  If you walked up the steps to pay your water bill, you’d be roughly where that Bobcat is in the background of the right side of the shot.

Speaking of paying your water bill, this was through the glass at the door of the main entrance.  Now, where they took your money for your bills sits a bobcat parked inside.  You can see clear through to the back lot.   There’s a silver coating on the window to reduce the sunlight so it also made for a dark picture.

Sticking with the through the window shots, this one is through the hole in the door left when the doorknob was removed at the back door of the police gym.  You can see all the rubble left from demolishing the roof and the tiled backsplash of the shower in the back.

Here’s a slightly less dramatic view of the same spot.  This was from the windowsill in the south corner of the building.  You can see the ledge in the foreground of the shot and the same tiled wall in the background.

From the fence at the back lot you can see the same view from the outside.  They’ve chewed away the roof and the back wall of the building and it’s open to the air.

The last shot for the day.  This is the view from the fence of the back of City Hall.  The wall behind that puddle is the other side of the first three pictures.  This is that open yard behind City Manager and Clerk’s offices.

The Work Begins – Demolition of Old City Hall

First, let me make this completely clear.  All pictures were taken from outside of the building. No trespassing occurred.  The shots of interior spaces are with me holding the camera overhead and through a window.  I’m 6’4″ and I have a real long reach.  Some pictures were taken through the existing fence between the holes in the wires. 

Please re-read that in case you are unsure, no trespassing occurred. 

This is the view of the building from the street.  Probably the most complete view you’re going to get from now on out.  Windows are knocked out, the Siren has been stored, the “HR Trailer Trash Trailer” has been moved off site.  The building actually looks from this distance like it’s still in use but its de-energized and the inside has been stripped of what can be reused.

Here’s where the “HR Trailer” used to sit.  When I walked over to the spot it still smelled like old cigarette smoke.  Years of it I guess!

Holding the camera through a broken window pane shows what the old Police Gym looks like today.  The little closet in the corner mid frame is where the HVAC unit stood.  Now, its partially removed.

This is an interesting shot.  Its just to the right of the above shot.  I got it standing outside the window, holding the camera up over my head, through a window.  Aiming it to the right angle, I tilted it down to get the Bulldozer in the background that chewed a hole in the building.

You can see the wires of the cyclone fence to the upper right and lower left of the frame in this shot.  This is the yard showing that window from another angle.  The PD Gym never had so much open space!

Here’s the Scoop… of the bulldozer and the pile of debris pulled from the carcass of the old building.  No wires in this shot, the angle was just right from outside of the fence.

Finally, here’s the view pulled back just a bit looking North East.  You can see the entire scene here.

I will continue taking pictures as long as I can get close enough from OUTSIDE of the fence.  I haven’t been invited in and I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.

The demolition is starting from this side of the building working toward the front facade that you see in the first picture.   When done, that last wall will be gone and the footprint of the old building will be paved over for a temporary parking lot.

My Speech to the Commission for CAAB

I usually only do a single post a day, but last night was special.  I was reelected by the Commission and the Mayor of the City of Wilton Manors to the Community Affairs Advisory Board.   It was also the first time I had to get up in front of an audience and do public speaking at any level since… college?  SHEESH!  I’ve got to Lighten Up!

I basically had my head down and muscled through it all, just under 300 words. 

My intent was to stress our work together and how we worked together to help the residents of this City.

Thank you again to the Commissioners and the Mayor of Wilton Manors.


I am currently the Vice Chair of the Community Affairs Advisory Board and I am here tonight to ask for my reelection and reinstatement to the Board for the next term of two years.

I have found the Board to be a fascinating position in which to do truly nice things for nice people, the Residents of Wilton Manors.  This is a board that in my mind is here to recognize the improvements that people are making in their properties that go unnoticed, to provide an opportunity for neighbors to meet neighbors and see what good people are doing in the City.

In my tenure, I was selected as Vice Chair shortly after joining the Board and work with Sherrill, Kevin, and the others in order to complete our mission.  I have revived the tradition of recognizing Properties of Distinction by presenting the home owners with the first Home Beautification awards after a couple year absence.  The current award design resembles strongly the original design that I had presented to the board.  That process had brought a spirit of camaraderie as everyone had their input on the final design which was almost identical to the original.

One of my favorite memories of being on CAAB was the Holiday Lighting program.  We were tasked with presenting the winners with awards for the best lights in the city.  It was my suggestion and insistence that the awards should be from as many businesses as possible within the city limits of Wilton Manors.  This way, the winners could use their awards to help keep some struggling business alive and thereby benefit the City. 

Everyone wins when you help your neighbors.

It is my hope that the Mayor and the City Commission will select me for another two year term on CAAB.

Thank you

Commission Meeting – July 27 2010

After having the budget meeting the night before the Commission Meeting was much shorter than what has become normal.  I’ve gotten used to the meetings stretching past 10PM and having to get up to leave to walk the dog.  This time it was finished at 8:40pm.

The highlight for me kept me quite rattled all night.  I had my first time speaking in front of the Commission and the City.  The Community Affairs Advisory Board had three seats whose terms had expired.  This is the board that I am the Vice Chair of and along with two others, we were all reelected to another two year term. 

Congratulations to current Board Chair Sherrill Mc Carthy, Board Member Kevin Knorr and myself who will continue to serve as volunteers on the Community Affairs Advisory Board for another two years.

My speech was short, and I shall post it as a separate blog posting after this one.  It stressed the Board’s accomplishments and our commitment to serve the residents and businesses of Wilton Manors by bringing recognition to things done by people who may not have been noticed. 

Parking on Wilton Drive is not yet running at the budgetary expectations but Lanier Parking fully expects to meet or exceed that amount by “the end of July”.  We are currently taking in $1000 a day, and are expecting $1800 a day, however that does not take into account the money from parking tickets.  Parking tickets have not gotten to the point where they are being fully collected because it is too soon to do so in many cases.  The numbers are only for a month so stay tuned.

In the remainder of the meeting there were three resolutions passed.

When City Hall is demolished, the City will place a temporary parking lot on the footprint of the old City Hall.  This will cost the city just under $92,000 and will require their dipping into the reserves for $5,000.  The parking lot will be done “On The Cheap” and is designed to last 3 years.  It will be done that way because there is the open question of the Two Lane Initiative and the Tiger 2 Grant and that property may get re-used and covered over by a mixed use Commercial and Residential building with an interior Garage, or may not.  This all depends on whether the City gets the grant.  We have a strong proposal, but it still is quite open as to whether the Federal Government agrees.

Congratulations to the City for doing it this way should be given.  The design will be done completely in house and was done by Dave Archacki Director of Public Services of the City of Wilton Manors and staff.  His design will save the city approximately $310,000 by bypassing external design firms and engineers and using our own staff.

Building of the new Temporary Lot can start when the old City Hall has been cleared and will begin as soon as the designs are deemed insurable.  Construction will take two weeks from start to finish.

Two short items:

The Wings and Things property will be completed per the original plans.  The building will house a new Sushi Rock restaurant as soon as construction is finished.  The property is now in compliance with code for a construction site so we can look forward to continuing growth in the middle of the Central Business District.

The Yawt Property
Still in flux over the G Resorts, the City has decided to look into any existing code violations by sending in the inspectors from the City and the County.  The City intends to have a “face to face meeting with Sandy Yawt and the other” trustees of the property to get them to follow through with the court orders and remove the blight that is on the East Side of the City.  If the City is not fully satisfied, they will pursue other options – their “Plan B” was alluded to.

Old City Hall – Last Day Picture

This is the last full day for the Old City Hall in Wilton Manors.  Tomorrow it is scheduled for demolition.  What comes in the future for this plot of land is up for discussion.

The view you have here is one you haven’t seen in quite a while.  There used to be a trailer for the HR Department bolted down to that site.  What was most surprising to me is that the line of shrubs in the planter were so lush and green.  There must have been just enough light and water to keep them happy, they’re even blooming.

The old building is “deenergized”, and without power.  Water has been turned off, most likely capped off.  The other services have been identified and triaged as to whether they will be removed or abandoned in place.  There are hieroglyphs spray painted into the pavement all over the property and more flags showing who owns which line than there are American Flags flown on July Fourth. 

This was taken from the corner of NE 21st Court and Wilton Drive, a view which will change from this point onward.  If you’re looking forward to seeing the old thing off, today’s the day to get your “Before” pictures.  Tomorrow, the site will be a very busy one indeed.

Banana Bread Recipe

Yes, I like to cook.  I just don’t like recipes that take forever and have many fussy ingredients. 

I’ve always shied away from Banana Bread, and now that I’ve broken down and made some, I don’t know why. 

I love Cavendish bananas and their cousins plantains.  I even have a banana tree in the back yard in a tree prison next to the pool.  The poor tree is screaming “Free Me!  Let me out of this POT!!!” every time I go out back. 

I was in the mood to cook yesterday and made a number of strange things, all of which were simple.  I knew I wanted some different food and when I was at GFS Marketplace in Fort Lauderdale, I found the ingredients I needed to make them over the week.

Here’s the store if you want to see it.  If not, just page down.  🙂

The Banana Bread came around because they had some “perfectly ripe” bananas on sale.   A bunch for $1.75.  A hand of bananas with speckles that promised sweetness also produces its own problem.  You just can’t eat seven bananas in two or three days.  I could freeze some for later baking or make a pudding out of them but this time I decided to try the banana bread.

The rules were no strange preparation, no strange ingredients and I wanted to try it in the bread machine.  I had found a recipe that worked out perfectly.   I only mashed the bananas a little because the machine did that for me except one rogue chunk that refused to stay down.

You can’t keep a good banana down, apparently.

The recipe was simple:
Toss all the ingredients into the bread machine in order,
Run on Dough cycle for 5 minutes to make sure that the bananas are all mashed and everything is mixed.
Press “Light” for bake setting
Press start,
Walk away until done.

The ingredients are:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (don’t get these two mixed up, I have and it never is pretty)
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 bananas peeled and halved lengthwise

That’s it!  I had a slice this morning with some home churned butter and it was wonderful with the coffee.  I’ll have to make more once this loaf is done.  After all, I still have more bananas and they’re not getting any younger!

A Hidden Treasure in Wilton Manors

To many people, the City of Wilton Manors is a hidden treasure itself.   It certainly is a fascinating place to live.  It is chock full of interesting people, large personalities, and entertaining things to do. 

The City has things for people of all ages to do.  One of them is a peculiar hobby of treasure hunting.  There are places you can go online to find hints toward the location of this treasure in order for you to go somewhere you may not have been before, experience the excitement of being on a hunt, and creating new memories in a creative way.

I’m calling it treasure hunting, but the more accepted term is “Geocaching”.  With cheap GPS units being commonplace, people have placed caches of things for people to find in random places throughout the world.  As one of my favourite sayings goes, all those who wander are not lost, and the excitement is in the journey not the destination.

Ok, two sayings.

The caches can contain something simple like a piece of paper that you can write your name and date on, others have little toys or goodies in them and you can take one if you wish and are expected to replace one.  The sites I have seen for these have descriptions of where to go, what to look for, and what to look out for.  Some of the caches are described so clearly that all you have to do is locate a specific spot on your GPS and look down.  Others are encrypted in a cypher hidden in an enigma within a riddle. 

This particular cache is the size of the vitamin pill I took this morning with my coffee.  Inside is a small slip of paper of visitors.   It is well known within the maintenance staff for the City and is watched over with care and a smile.  It does bring visitors, as I have opened the cache and read the log.  I replaced it all with care, and it is there at the moment of this writing.  The comments that people have written on the sites about this particular cache speak of the treatment of the visitors to this city by the City workers, and by the folks who stay here.   Its seen as a warm place, people look forward to coming back, so I see this as a positive thing for us. 

We have approximately six caches in the city.  This one is in an accessible place and welcomes many to later visit our other attractions and perhaps learn some about our history and get to know us.  The stories are amusing and sometimes heartwarming that describe the hunt.

I’m purposely being vague about it.  Its a harmless little thing, and a great weekend hobby for children to learn about map reading, GPS usage, Latitude and Longitude plotting and gives them a bit of practice using their minds to puzzle out the clues.  Come to Wilton Manors, home of the teeny little Geocache, visit our parks and shops, and bring home memories.

Ok, I’ll stop being tour guide for now.  If you want to play hide and seek for yourself, the only hint for that I will give you is the site that I found it on is at this link.

Bonnie Kissed The Beach

Tropical Storm Bonnie was a non event here in South Florida.  We’ve had normal thunderstorms that were more vigorous. 

The beach is still here.  We haven’t had any tar balls show up yet from BP’s spill, people will be there enjoying the weather today since it is breezy and nice.  At least it will be once the sun comes up.  We aren’t even getting into the 90s today, Fort Lauderdale is running a wee bit cooler than seasonable this year.

I picked up the loose and light objects and set them aside and under cover.  Hurricane Prep took an hour. 

We have something else brewing off of Puerto Rico so we could still have some drama, but for now at least, I know where the shutters are and that if we have to, we can be safe.

How to Shower in South Florida

I went back to sleep hearing a weather alert sound just before midnight.  I half heard some announcement of Tropical Storm Bonnie and went back to sleep.  This morning, as normal, I woke at 6 AM.

Mrs Dog started to rattle around wanting food.  Getting up, I fed her and begun the normal morning ritual.  In my case, that means roasting two ½ cups of green beans to make coffee when I later grind them to make the pot. 

While they were roasting, they infused the house with the strong and wonderful odor that only fresh roasted coffee beans can give.  I let the dog out the front door to do her business while the second batch was perfuming the kitchen.

Looking around my front yard, I noticed that it had not rained over night and the clouds were not dark enough for me to give it a second thought.  At that time of the day, I am not awake enough to give much of anything a second thought.

I grabbed the bags and the iPod and got myself and the dog out the door. 

Walking about a half mile from the house and back, I ran into one of the locals that I see from time to time.  He looked concerned since he was around a mile from home.  Apologizing that he had to get back before the rain started, we parted company.  He left me scratching my head about rain.  I looked East over Dixie Highway and the Railroad tracks towards the ocean beyond and saw that there were more of the grey flannel uniform of this morning’s sky and still thought little of it. 

The air was thick but breezy, a normal early morning here.  There was a gentle scent of coffee on the breezes everywhere I went.  My own personal cologne was following me.

Walking through Wilton Manors is a part of living here.   Its fairly walkable, although we could use some improvements, and it is getting better with the efforts of the volunteers and the City Government.

I got out to Wilton Drive and as at the shops I felt one single drop of rain on my arm.  It still looked like grey flannel in the sky but This Isn’t Good.

If you have ever watched a Making Of video you may see how they make it rain in Hollywood.  There are sprinklers on the roofs and they will turn it on and off like a light switch.  To go from clear to torrent with an eye blink is something that will surprise.

Right as I got to the open area, that happened to me.  It was an absolute torrent.  No roofs nearby so I soldiered onwards.  Drenched I made my way home.   As I rounded the corner near my house it happened again.  The rain simply stopped.  The silence was deafening. 

The result was a wet dog, a wet me, and it washed all my coffee cologne away. 

Thus was the beginning of Tropical Storm Bonnie here.  It isn’t expected to be all that dangerous here, and should not be much more when it hits the Gulf of Mexico nothing more than some rain.