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MINUTES OF GMCA ADVISORY BOARD MEETING

JANUARY 17, 2008


The meeting was called to order at 11:10 a.m. by President Pio Ieraci.

Board Members present: Ieraci, Berkowitz, Gill, Glickfield, Guttman, Hamaker, McBride, Alfano, Bindler, Nicholson-Brown, Casier, Cohen, Cohen, Creal, Drews, Freismith, Gonzalez, Konstance, Lecht, M. Leeds, Mayer, Miller, Quintero, Talerico and Vanek

Approval of Minutes - The minutes of December 20, 2007 were approved.

Old & New Business

The President explained the purpose of the Galt Mile Advisory Board; emphasizing its spirit of community and inclusiveness. He stressed how important it is for representatives from every member-building to attend the meetings on a regular basis. He explained each member’s responsibility to convey their association’s concerns at the meeting and conversely update the progress of neighborhood issues to their building’s residents.

Galt Mile Memorial Walk - The President stated that, in addition to some of the legitimate concerns expressed by L’Hermitage representatives, the Memorial should not be a source of divisiveness. Many members agreed, confirming that the Walk should be reconfigured without contentious elements such as the benches. Following are some comments from various members about the project:

  • One member expressed concern about whether allegations questioning Bob Rozema’s management of Southpoint should impact the project and proposed to look into the allegations.

  • Several members answered that recognition of Bob and the other GMCA activists was conceived solely based on their incontestable contributions to the neighborhood, exclusive of the claims or accusations leveled by admitted personal and political enemies after his passing. Pio stated, “I worked with Bob for twenty years on projects that benefited every Galt Mile resident. Bob was a man of great integrity and served this community well.”

  • Another member responded that the responsibility for evaluating Bob’s performance as the manager of Southpoint rests with the Board and residents of that Association, not the neighborhood association. Given the limits of the neighborhood association’s mandate, GMCA is precluded from unsolicited involvement in the affairs of any of its member associations. However, we can clearly attest to his extraordinary contributions to the community. This organization should not interfere with Southpoint’s affairs or legal issues, especially when based upon highly dubious allegations (“Innocent until proven guilty”). We should proceed with the project.

  • The Board member who initially suggested the implementation of dedicated benches in lieu of commemorative plaques said that if she had known about the concerns later expressed by L’Hermitage, she never would have made the suggestion. She also asked to “officially withdraw her suggestion to install benches.”

  • One of the representatives from L’Hermitage explained that since her association already abuts benches and a public beach access to the east and south, more benches on the west side would unnecessarily add to their security concerns and make residents feel more vulnerable. While other Galt Mile associations also have benches next to their premises, only L’Hermitage is adjacent to a public pass-through to the beach.

  • When asked if they had any other objections to the project aside from the benches, the L’Hermitage representatives confirmed that they did not. Cleaning up the patch of green space west of their buildings and granting it park status would otherwise benefit L’Hermitage residents. Their sole objection was against the installation of “additional places for vagrants to flop” (benches).

  • In addition to memorializing several currently worthy contributors to our community’s betterment, the Memorial Walk will accommodate future contributors as well.

  • With plaques being reconsidered as alternatives to the benches, questions arose about the number of people that could conceivably be memorialized and where the plaques might be located. Advisory Board members uniformly expressed their intention to insure that the park was in no way reminiscent of a “cemetery”.

  • The L’Hermitage representatives expressed their appreciation to the Board members for having reconsidered this issue in deference to their concerns.

  • One member suggested that a sculpture be considered for the Memorial area. Various ways of accomplishing this were discussed, including a competition of sorts. Dan Lecht of Playa del Mar volunteered to investigate this possibility. Since the location is City property, any proposal must be approved by the City.

  • A question was raised about whether there was any advantage to relocating the Memorial Walk. It was widely agreed that the current site would benefit from an aesthetic facelift. The location was chosen to enhance the Mile with beautiful landscaping.

  • Other Galt Mile “pioneers” were discussed, such as the Hunt Family.

Eric Berkowitz of Regency Tower made a motion to move forward with the Memorial Walk without the benches. Seconded by Ralph Hamaker of Coral Ridge Towers South, the motion was one vote short of being unanimously carried.

The next stage is to obtain revised plans from the City of Fort Lauderdale.

Il Lugano – Ralph Hamaker - They are open for business. Residents are moving in, the hotel is operating and the restaurant is expected to open in March.

Ralph will give Pio contact information for Tony Law to discuss Il Lugano’s participation in the Galt Mile Community Association.

Beach Renourishment - Pio spoke to Broward Beach Administrator Steve Higgins. The report prepared from the information collected during the 18 month monitoring period does not appear to represent an obstacle to moving ahead with the Fort Lauderdale segment of the Beach Renourishment project. The next step will be to request approval from the Florida cabinet. Also, Broward Commissioner Ken Keechl has been following up on the progress of this project.

The impending removal of any remaining outfall pipes along the Galt Mile Beach was discussed. Although the County will actually remove the pipes, associations relying on these antiquated structural elements for HVAC condensate evacuation or drainage must have alternative systems in place and operational prior to the removal of the pipes if they want to avoid any interruption of their air conditioning services to residents. Fountainhead has already installed cooling towers and no longer depends upon the outfall pipe for their air conditioning. The 5 other Galt Mile associations with outfall pipes are in varying stages of preparing for their removal. If each association were forced to remove their pipe, the permitting process and the expense would have been extremely onerous. We are fortunate that the County intends to remove the structures as part of preparing the Beach for the distribution of additional sand.

Rose Guttman applauded Ocean Manor’s Frank Talerico for his assistance with contractor negotiations. Pio stated that this spirit of cooperation is one of the purposes for our organization.

Community Center - Pio reported on a Calypso Project meeting he and Eric attended with City Commissioner Christine Teel, City Manager George Gretsas, other city officials and representatives of the company that applied for a license to build and operate a Deepwater Port off the Galt Mile beach for the offloading of liquid natural gas (LNG). Mr. Gretsas asked why they located the Port 8 to 10 miles off the Galt Mile beach instead of being adjacent to its Port Everglades pipeline landfall, and farther out to sea. They said that an undersea cliff called the Miami Escarpment prevented their extending the port farther out into the ocean. They also claimed that the Galt Mile location was selected because construction at alternative sites would have threatened the hardbottom. When asked about the safety of the project, they gave assurances that the technology had an impeccable safety record. However, Eric said that when they were asked how far the ignitable vapor cloud of spilled liquid natural gas (LNG) could travel before dissipating harmlessly into the atmosphere, they admitted that no studies were available to accurately address that question. When asked to attend a community meeting for the benefit of concerned residents, the Calypso representatives assented, agreeing to make a formal presentation and answer questions. Commissioner Teel recommended that the meeting take place at the Beach Community Center in February. When the actual date and time is scheduled, it is essential that everyone agree to attend. We need to ascertain if and how this project will impact our safety and the health of the surrounding environment. Familiar with the fossil fuel industry, Ralph Hamaker shared that LNG technology has been in place for many years.

Galt Roving Security Patrol - Every participating member is receiving the daily activity reports from the patrol.

Galt Mile Web Site – Newsletter – Eric Berkowitz -

  • December Hits: : 624,974 hits; 9,796 unique site visits (first timers)

The past month’s articles:

  • December 24, 2007 - Commissioner Teel: Neighborhood Plans - In her December Newsletter, District 1 City Commissioner Christine Teel postulates a plan to provide effective guidance for coherent and responsive neighborhood redevelopment. Having witnessed less than satisfactory alteration to the character of their communities, neighborhood associations are stressing the importance of preserving their residents’ “neighborhood vision” in the face of future growth. Her recommendation is to lay the groundwork for solidifying and enforcing the tenets of that vision before the next significant growth cycle. Armed with input from the Council of Fort Lauderdale Civic Associations, her two-part plan includes tailoring the Unified Land Development Regulations (ULDR) to address expressed concerns followed by drafting ordinances to ensure that anticipated local redevelopment conforms to the “neighborhood vision.”

  • December 29, 2007 - Vote Easy – Vote Early! - On January 29, 2008, Broward County voters will pile into polling places to make known their will. This pungent experience can be softened! As part of election reform legislation in Florida, early voting has been an available option since 2002. For two weeks prior to the election, registered voters can opt to cast their votes at any of several different Broward sites. From Monday, January 14th through Sunday, January 27, 2008, registered voters can avoid the traffic and the lines that plague overcrowded polling places. Voters need only bring a signature-bearing photo ID. To further expedite the experience, bring a sample ballot, palm card or newspaper listing with your choices already marked. Over the next month, each day carries an event relevant to the election. These “deadlines” are listed and available for your perusal.

  • January 3, 2008 - Galt Mile Preps for 2008 Food Drive - Last year, every Galt Mile resident earned the warm fuzzy feeling generally reserved for people who anonymously bring safety and/or sustenance to their neighbors in need. Eight of our twenty-six member associations participated in a friendly competition to collect donated food and personal needs products for distribution and consumption by Broward families and individuals temporarily unable to provide for themselves. The Cooperative Feeding Program’s Scott Woodburn has contacted every member of the Galt Mile Community Association and reports having solicited full participation for the 2008 competition. He hopes to triple last year’s 2.6 tons of food and personal hygiene products raised by the Galt Mile to brighten the outlook for distressed Broward families. Although Plaza South and Edgewater Arms took last year's trophies, the real payoff is immeasurable.

  • January 11, 2008 - Beach Progress and a New County Government - On December 20th, the Galt Mile Community Association Advisory Board convened its final meeting for 2007. As per GMCA’s mandate to keep abreast of local projects, founder Jack Ireland and proprietor Andy Mitchell updated the board about the development progress of Ireland’s Inn. Following the project update, Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl addressed the Advisory Board, reviewing the progress of the County’s Beach Renourishment project and expressing his approval of Al Lamberti as the new Broward County Sheriff. Focusing on prospective tweaks to the Broward County Charter, the Charter Commission has agreed on a new County governance format that expands the Commission to eleven members and establishes an independent Mayor! Admitting that the County has been kept “out of the loop”, he expressed concern about the dangers inherent in the planned construction of the clandestine Calypso Deepwater Port to facilitate offloading liquid natural gas near the Galt Mile beach.

  • January 17, 2008 - Bogdanoff: Communications 101 - Since their survival depends in part on promoting or supporting legislation advantageous to the voters that seat them, legislators are generally guided by constituent input. As such, both Galt Mile residents and their lawmakers stand to benefit from effective communication. In her January Newsletter, District 91 Statehouse Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff describes how and when interested constituents can productively express their concerns. In her capacity as Majority Whip, Ellyn enjoys a unique familiarity with the session's legislative offerings. If apprised of your concerns prior to the session, she is well-positioned to utilize that input as guidance for supporting or opposing newly filed relevant bills. Since her recommendations are intuitive, simple and straightforward, anyone can take advantage of her “insider” perspective to effectively participate in the legislative process.

Treasurer’s Report - Leah Glickfield reported $17,145.52 in our Treasury.

Other Business -

  • Pio reminded us to be cautious about discussing issues addressed at our meetings. Upon investigating several assertions made during earlier meetings, they were ultimately found to be baseless – the products of someone’s opinions or prejudices. Unless it is factual information, it is gossip.

  • Patricia Quintero of L’Hermitage II asked about the Advisory Board’s membership protocol. Pio answered that we want at least two responsible members from each building who are community-minded and willing to regularly attend the monthly meetings.

Next Advisory Board Meeting - The next regular Advisory Board Meeting will be held on Thursday, February 21, 2008 at Nick’s Italian Restaurant.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:40 p.m.

Fern McBride, Secretary

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