Personalized Service at Cooper City TRUE VALUE

If you’re tired of aimlessly wandering the canyons of your local big-box home improvement store, try the new Cooper City True Value. tv3They seem to have about 90% of what I typically need and it’s convenient. Not only that, you get personalized service instead of hopelessly and vainly searching for an blue or orange-clad employee at the mega stores.

Owners Russ and Ernie both demonstrated excellent customer service skills while I was there, patiently helping a female customer with multiple hardware needs, and helping me find parts to restore my antique tripods. Parts, I might add that were out of stock at the big-box store in spite of their massive-ness.

If you need hardware of any kind, give True Value a try – they have all kinds of nuts, bolts, screws, connectors, clips, t-nuts… the list goes on, and they’re all organized and easy to find. I saw plenty of PVC pipe supplies, paint and tv2painting supplies, ladders, mowers, power tools, door hardware, barbeque items, saw blades, electrical supplies, cleaning supplies, pet supplies, and a whole lot more. Like I said, 90% of the time, these are the types of items I need, and at True Value, you can get immediate help, find what you want, and be on your way. I thought the prices were very reasonable.tv1

Save some shoe leather… try the new True Value. It’s located in the old Blockbuster store location at Hiatus and Sheridan. Look for the grand opening event February 6 through the 8th, including buy one, get one free on EasyCare paint, a fun treasure hunt, register to win prizes, and a spin-to-win game. The ribbon cutting was held at 1 PM on February 7th with Mayor Ross and commissioners in attendance.

Mayor Ross leads the ribbon cutting at True Value.

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New Playground at Ted Ferone Park Set to Open (NOW OPEN)

Ted Ferone Park Cooper City New Playground

Finishing up the mulching at the new playground as a final step to completion.

Children in the Cooper Village area will soon enjoy the brand new playground at Ted Ferone Park, located at 106th Avenue and 51st Street. The old playground was recently removed and quickly replaced with a great new facility. The last details are being completed now. The playground includes several slides, a circular monkey-bars, a rock climbing wall, and a huge shade canopy. Go see it, and enjoy it, soon!

Trader Joe’s – Budget/Gourmet With a ’60’s Vibe.

First visit to Trader Joe’s (11960 Pines Blvd). 20141222_141836Not exactly what I expected, kind of a cozy ’60’s beach/drive-in vibe with bright colors, plus light wood decor and checkout stands instead of a big warehouse, and great prices on most stuff.

Almost everything is “Trader Joe’s” brand, and as you’ve heard, their wine selection is good-sized and well priced. A few item samples: $1.99 for a half-gallon of OJ, $1.79 for a dozen eggs, $2.49 for the large bags of multi-grain tortilla or ridged potato chips, $2.99 for their house brand 20141222_133915Merlot and White Zindandel (and other varietals), pure grade-A maple syrup at $5.49,  EV Olive Oil (33 oz. size) for just $7.99. I’m told by the expert that those are good prices. Trader Joe’s has plenty of imported cheeses, a good selection of nice, flash-frozen fish, small-batch craft beer, fresh produce, a nice assortment of frozen convenience foods, and much more.20141222_133746 It’s a budget-gourmet place combined with a small-town grocery store feel. The staff is friendly and helpful plus they empty your cart and bag your stuff for you; all you do is watch and pay.

Budget Gems – 5 Year Capital Improvement Plan

Here’s a taste of some of the 5-year capital improvement plan spending that was approved by your commission:

$2M to reconfigure Bill Lipps Sports Complex FY16-17
$400K for a metal span structure at the Cooper City Sports Complex basketball courts FY15-16
$500K to replace playground equipment FY14-19
$2.4M to develop West Sports Complex FY14-18
$80K for Community Center renovations FY14-15
$75K for a generator for the Community Center FY14-15
$50K for City Hall lobby renovation FY14-15
$285K to upgrade the Pool &Tennis Center court lighting FY15-18
$50K to add a play structure & picnic tables at P&TC FY15-16

Total just for these items is $5,840,000

Other items that make up the $8.763,000 overall total include ADA compliance items, re-roofing, street resurfacing and other necessary maintenance. Those seem to be solid needs. It would be interesting to know from the above list, what items are “must-have” improvements to maintain the operational integrity of a facility, and what are “nice-to-have” items, if any. As many taxpayers in Cooper City continue to struggle to get along with less, is every capital improvement expense item a true necessity?

For stimulating reading, check the approved budget at this link.

Oh, by the way, according to the approved budget, the commissioner’s budget includes $140 a month each for cell phones in addition to the group insurance benefits (about $17,270 a year benefit for each active commissioner) and the newly doubled salary. In fact, the entire Department 100 – Commission budget (minus retiree benefits) comes out to just under $50k a year per active commissioner, of which there is $24,500 for travel expenses, according to the report. The total budget for Department 100 – Commission is under $400,000 annually. Heck, that’s enough to buy another “metal structure” for the basketball courts.

 

Sims Wins

John Sims won re-election for the commissioner’s seat against newcomer Mike de Miranda who had a very good showing with 48.3% of the vote, losing by just 318 votes. The lingering question for John Sims and Mayor Greg Ross is will they refuse to accept the 100% raise recently voted in by the other commissioners? Are they in fact, even allowed to “refuse” it? Wondering minds would like to know.

At any rate, congratulations to Mr. Sims and here’s wishing for continued watchdog oversight on the Cooper City budget and other local matters.

Hoops Bar & Grill Now Open – Must Love TV

After many months, Hoops Bar & Grill is now open in Davie menuat the SW corner of Griffin Road and University. The site has been home to several restaurants over the years using the same building, but Hoops is brand new from the ground up. Hoops has a seating capacity of 202 people and houses 150+ flat-screen televisions. If you like wandering around hhgregg because of the walls of TV’s, you’ll love Hoops. Every table and booth other than center-floor seats has its own TV, although you cannot control the sound and you must ask the wait staff to change the channel.

If you were expecting a basketball-themed restaurant (and with a name like Hoops, why wouldn’t you) you are in for a severe disappointment. Nothing on the inside save the round menu even hints at a basketball theme. You will find mostly (presumably) vendor-provided liquor posters and metal signs, and we spotted a Major League Baseball sign, a Miami Dolphins football sign, and that was about it. There is a large basketball jersey with the name SHACK (not SHAQ?) on it and the number 23 but that’s it for basketball memorabilia.

The outside is bright and inviting. Once inside, it’s all dark, and I mean all of it. From the dark brown tile floors to the dark wood-like paneling, to the dark tables, dark chairs, dark high-back booth seats, dark ceiling… the only thing that’s not dark is the 150+ blazing televisions. interiorVirtually any unoccupied space has been fitted with a TV. So, sitting in your dark booth surrounded by dark fixtures (even the ceiling fans) what stands out is the endless walls of televisions. If that was the plan, it worked.

On to the food. We went for lunch at 1:30 during opening week and were promptly seated and attended to. My lunch partner and I ordered from the short lunch menu and our food arrived within 20 minutes. I had a properly done and very tasty burger and crispy fries and my partner had a beef scaloppini dish. My burger came with Havarti cheese (you can have Cheddar, Swiss or Havarti; there is no American cheese at Hoops, I was told), crunchy lettuce, ripe tomato and red onion slices on a toasted bun. Everything tasted fresh but I was not asked howburger I wanted the burger cooked nor asked what I wanted on it. In spite of that, it was one of the better burgers I’ve had locally.

The scaloppini dish came with a tasty creamy sauce with tri-color pepper bits. The side salad was just the right size and had an interesting mix of fresh greens, tomato, cucumber and red onion. Nicely done but delivered with the wrong dressing. For lunch, we just had lemonade and water. Based on our small sample, thumbs up on the food so far.

Here’s a bit of surprise, there are no condiments on any table. None. No salt, no pepper, no ketchup or mustard, no sugar packets. You can ask for them beefbut you’re apparently not trusted to have them on the table. Besides, they would disrupt viewing your table side TV, the one you can see but cannot hear. What you do hear is typical bar and grill thumping music constantly playing in the background.

The female wait staff wore uniforms of a dark top, tan shorts or tan skirt and knee-high socks that were topped in horizontal black and white stripes, a hint to referee stripes. We’ll reserve comment on service capabilities for a restaurant that’s only been open a few days, but the word sufficient comes to mind. All requests were immediately handled and we were checked on a couple of times during the meal.

Back to the décor. Hoops = basketball, right? Not here. The odd, round menus are printed with a basketball graphic but handling the menu is a bit unwieldy due to the shape. As for interior design, I would have expected possibly a parquet wood floor reminiscent of a basketball court, wouldn’t you? Maybe a basketball backboard and hoop somewhere? Some basketball graphics, maybe a player image or two? Was Fathead not open? Was it too costly to license anything from the NBA? Just makes you shrug.

The food was good enough to make me want to go back plus the location is handy. Could be a great bar hangout with a long inside bar framed by a huge TV and an airy outside bar to complement it. If you like a restaurant with at least 20 TVs in your field of view at any given time, Hoops is for you.

100th Avenue Update – Cooper City Commission Makes a Decision

September 15, 2014: Oh, but it took a while to get there, what with circular discussions and painful regurgitation of what we all just heard and clearly understood. Personal styles of the commissioners aside, it was decided to undo the blockage on 100th Avenue at 53rd Street and restore the ability to make a left turn out of 53rd onto 100th, or from northbound 100th onto 53rd – the way is has been for over 20 years.

There are legitimate concerns by folks who live along 53rd Street that too many people use it as a through street from 106th to 100th Avenues, with many of them speeding while they do so. With the left turn blocked off, this concern was mitigated, but the traffic has had to shift up to 51st Street or down to the Sterling Springs entrance, forcing residents to wander through other streets to get to and from their homes, and simply transferring a problem from one street to another. There are no stop signs on 53rd Street so it has been the preferred route compared to 51st with its two stop signs, for traversing from 106th to 100th. It is suspected that many of the drivers using the shortcut to 100th Avenue do not live in the neighborhood, making it even more frustrating for locals.

In reversing the current left turn blockage, the commission further agreed to request a study from Broward County after 30 days, to examine the traffic count on 53rd Street in order to support the installation of stop signs that would alleviate some of the “throughway” issue. It was noted that stop signs are not used for speed control, only volume control, but it was further noted that 51st Street has and has had for many years, two stop signs on virtually the same type of road. We’ll see what the study shows but for now, get ready to make your left turns once again. With the traffic flying on 100th, be extra watchful.

UPDATE: Skip brings up an interesting point about who has authority over traffic devices, and while at the commission meeting, I accepted at face value the comment that the county has final say-so over the placement of stop signs, and the city can only suggest or request placement. The state statues say something else in:
316.006 Jurisdiction.Jurisdiction to control traffic is vested as follows:

(2) MUNICIPALITIES.

(a) Chartered municipalities shall have original jurisdiction over all streets and highways located within their boundaries, except state roads, and may place and maintain such traffic control devices which conform to the manual and specifications of the Department of Transportation upon all streets and highways under their original jurisdiction as they shall deem necessary to indicate and to carry out the provisions of this chapter or to regulate, warn, or guide traffic.

So, is the prevailing municipality for Cooper City actually Broward County? Doesn’t sound right. So, if you look further, you find in

(4) (a) Notwithstanding any other provisions of law to the contrary, a municipality may, by interlocal agreement with a county, agree to transfer traffic regulatory authority over areas within the municipality to the county.

So, apparently that is the case with Cooper City/Broward County. At some point Cooper City must have given such authority to Broward County, making the simple task of seeing and resolving (with stop signs) a traffic flow problem (the unimpeded throughway on 53rd Street) a much more complicated one, by having to bow to the authority of the county in this matter.

Now, the Cooper City Ordinances regarding traffic (Chapter 17, link below) does not mention any such agreement but does provide for the installation of traffic calming devices (such as speed humps, round-a-bouts) without specifically excluding stop signs, which could be reasonably interpreted as a traffic calming device.

After more searching, I could not find any reference to an interlocal agreement between Cooper City and Broward County transferring traffic regulatory authority to the county. It may exist, and I’ve emailed City Hall to see if they can provide a reference. Link to Chapter 17.

Now, in their paper, Traffic Calming Do’s and Don’ts (Richard Drdul, P.Eng. and Mike Skene, A.Sc.T, Institue of Transportation Engineers technical papers 1994) they suggest that stop signs are NOT effective as traffic calming devices: While 4-way (or in this case, 3-way) stops are the #1 requested traffic calming device, they are rarely satisfactory or effective for the purpose. Stop signs are intended to assign priority at an intersection, not to slow or divert traffic. Drdul and Skene claim that mid-block speeds can actually increase, that rolling stops or “no” stops actually result, and police compliance is expensive. Something to consider in the case of 53rd Street.

Here is another very interesting article on the subject, that also argues against traffic control devices (stop signs and lights) for traffic calming purposes.

Here is the response from Mr. Bowman at Cooper City on traffic authority: “In December 1981, the City and County entered into a Traffic Engineering Agreement, where by the County would perform traffic engineering functions for the City. In 1993, the City passed and adopted Resolution 93-7-1 in which the City transferred to the County the functions, authority, powers, responsibilities and duties pertaining to the planning, installation, operation and maintenance of traffic control devices. This same agreement was extended to all municipalities in an effort to have a centralized agency responsible for the installation and maintenance of traffic control devices throughout the County. All traffic control signals and signage are covered by this agreement.” There you have it.

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