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.

 

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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.

Flamingo Road Nursery Farmers Market – Update

Flamingo Road Nursery Farmers Market
UPDATE: July 2014 – The Farmer’s Market at Flamingo Road Nursery was remodeled around Christmastime 2013 and the new layout is inviting and attractive to be sure. Within the last few months, a fresh seafood counter has been added, too, open Friday, Saturday and Sunday only with a variety of fresh fish. We always find something new, or something you just don’t see elsewhere, along with quality produce and fruit. Visitors enjoy freshly squeezed juices, ice cream, smoothies, and a large selection of desserts and cookies, along with the friendly service. If you haven’t been in a while, stop in and see the upgrades.

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What was a good farmers market has been transformed to what I’d call a gourmet farmers market with a dizzying display of high-end and different choices in sweets, pasta, condiments, breads, even farm-fresh two-yolk eggs. They’ve sourced fresh produce from farmers in Okeechobee and the freshly-picked corn we had the other day was outstanding. Absolutely worth stopping in for a look. Southbound side of Flamingo Road, a mile or so south of 595, you can make an easy U-turn if heading north on Flamingo.

Dr. Phillip Mann – Everglades Artist & Much More

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Phillip Mann in front of his gallery of work

Arguably the World’s Most Interesting Mann, local artist and Barry University leader Dr. Phillip Mann was a featured exhibitor at the opening evening ceremonies for the Pembroke Pines “Florida Bounty” exhibition, located at the Pines City Hall, and running through July 21, 2014. Featuring several artists and photographers, the exhibit features different perspectives on local nature scenes including the Everglades.

Dr. Mann has been an artist virtually his entire life, taking up watercolor at the age of eight, and painting oil on canvasIMG_3350 scenes actively for over 40 years. While his early works included industrial subjects, the bulk of his recent work is nature-oriented with a strong focus on the Everglades. His style evokes a sense of Monet and Van Gogh, and in fact, he’s been described by at least one art critic as the “Van Gogh of the Everglades.”

The eighteen or so works presented at the Florida Bounty exhibition represent a fraction of Mann’s current inventory of 80 or so paintings and he relishes the opportunity to have them on view for the public to enjoy. Having sold hundreds of works over the years at various shows, none of his pieces on display were availaIMG_3352ble for sale, at least for now. He has turned down offers of up to $5,000 for some of his work, preferring to hold and display them for public enjoyment. Adding to the beauty of his paintings are hand-selected frames, specifically chosen for each painting.

As the Director of the Entrepreneurial Institute at Barry University, Dr. Mann is constantly encouraging students to reach beyond their perceived boundaries to achieve more than they imagined, including community involvement, and a the institute has a focus on addressing the needs of low and moderate income communities and the reduction of economic disparity among communities through business development and job creation. IMG_3357

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R. L. Lewis

Phillip is also a U.S. Navy Veteran and accomplished antiques collector and dealer, with a prominent space at the Cooper City Antique Mall where a large assortment of art glass and figurines are on display and available for sale.

His work, along with other contributing artists, is on display through July 21, at the Pembroke Pines City Hall, 10100 Pines Boulevard at the southwest corner of Pines and Palm Avenue.

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Exhibit Entry

The opening reception also featured a live painting demonstration by the Highway Man, R.L. Lewis, with his very colorful and evocative style. He painted the scene shown to the right in front of an appreciative audience.

Cooper City Founder’s Day Sights

Cooper City Founder’s Day activities were held under clear skies and warm temperatures this year. From the early morning run/walk to the 90th Avenue parade followed by the AACA Car Show,camaro baseball and softball games, vendor arts and crafts, and much more, attendees were treated to a variety of sights and sounds to commemorate Cooper City’s 55th anniversary.

Among dozens of classic and antique cars on display, this 1979 Chevy Camaro Z28 owned by Frank T. of Rock Creek caught my eye. Bought several years ago, Frank restored the car to identically match the Z28 he had as a teenager, a gift from his father that was subsequently stolen. Several years ago, Frank saw this car on the Internet and bought it, then restored it to match his old car. Such are the stories of the car enthusiasts found at this and other car shows. Here are a few more car photos and vendor area pictures.

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Newly Published: STREAMS TO FORD

Check out the new book of free verse poetry by the author of this blog. Streams to Ford is BookCoverPreviewa collection built over many years and the book contains author’s notes that give insight into each work. Available on Amazon.com and link to the book blog to learn how to obtain a signed copy or to preview the book.