By: Sharon Aron Baron
Last Thursday, the WNID meeting was attended by less than ten residents. This was a dismal showing of residents who should have an interest in improving safety measures for our community, especially after two recent break-ins.
Prior to the meeting, a workshop was held by the WNID board and section presidents to figure out the next step for the WNID after LETF funds which are set aside for funding for security and Safe Neighborhood Improvement Districts (NID’s) were refused by Captain Glassman and not even given a chance to be voted upon by the city commissioners.
The WNID is not viewed positively by the city. To the tune of $120,000 in legal fees, staff meetings, fighting. The Woodlands doesn’t care to help itself. There is no sense of community. If our own community doesn’t want to help itself, then the city doesn’t want to help it.” – Vice Mayor Michelle Gomez
The next course of action by the WNID would be writing a RFP (request for proposal) or a grant to fund the study for the community.
The city so far has not agreed to provide $30,000, toward the study, and is suggesting that the WNID find money through a grant. This is the city that gave Tamarac Jewish Center $5 million dollars from their emergency fund to move about 500 feet to the West, bought a golf course that would have been cheaper if they waited for the foreclosure, and then gave the management contract to the people that ran it into bankruptcy. Ironically, the city wants to pay $18,000 for new entrance signs to the Woodlands so they can add the words “At Tamarac” to the sign. But, won’t give the WNID the funds to improve the security inside.
The same city that won’t fund the study, also spent $2 million to buy an office building which they are going to demolish for the yet-to-be-built Tamarac Village, and spent thousands of dollars to promote their meaningless Palladium Award with banner, signs and trip for two to Boston.
“I met with Frank (Zicker) about the RFP and we don’t have the funding,” said President Randy Scott. “The city has worked out language on it, and they don’t want to release it until we get funding. They want to see if we can get a grant to help us.”
One of the options that came up, said Scott, was turning the district over to the city, like Lauderhill’s safe neighborhood districts, so they could provide more funding. “As my discussions went with the city, whatever funding and projects we get, we would share with other communities.”
Scott believes that if the WNID is turned over to the city, and the board becomes an advisory board, there is a better chance of getting funding.
Board Member Larry Torn disagreed, and said that while he was not speaking out against the proposal, he believed we were already under the city. “Everything we do has to be approved from the city.”
However, Torn is incorrect, The WNID is currently a dependent district. That’s why the city has to approve whatever financial tool the WNID uses. It’s like we are a subpart of their budget. What the city is proposing is taking over the WNID as the governing body. But sadly, since the city has been so lackadaisical in supporting the WNID thus far, it seems outrageous that the board would suddenly believe that the city would now suddenly become accommodating.
However, if the WNID agrees to the city’s initial proposal, the governing body of the WNID would be the Mayor and the four other Commissioners, none of whom has been particularly helpful to the WNID.
Perhaps most telling in the entire meeting was when Vice Mayor Michelle Gomez was asked by the board what the City of Tamarac thinks of the WNID.
“The WNID is not viewed positively by the city. To the tune of $120,000 in legal fees, staff meetings, fighting. The Woodlands doesn’t care to help itself. There is no sense of community. If our own community doesn’t want to help itself, then the city doesn’t want to help it.”
Sadly, a person who should be our biggest supporter, our very own city commissioner, who has represented the Woodlands off and on for several years, is obviously not an advocate for us in front of her peers.
According to the Gomez, the city has spent $15,000 on an initial grant for the WNID, approximately $100,000.00 to $110,000.00 in legal fees to prepare and assist with the WNID and defending various complaints filed: circuit civil lawsuit brought by Woodlands a resident (Pat Barsorian), an ethics complaint (brought by Pat Barsorian), and two separate Florida Election Commission Complaints. It is difficult to figure out how the City could have spent so much money in legal fees on these matters. The Elections complaint was dismissed as having no legal basis and the Ethics complaint was dismissed after a preliminary investigation into the facts. Surely, preparing the ordinance for the creation of the WNID should be no different than any other agenda item. Does the City charge a vendor when the City puts an item on their agenda awarding a contract or purchase? Does the City really think other neighborhoods should pay when the City enacts an ordinance that helps their neighborhood? Jennifer Bramley, the City’s past Community Development Director, researched other districts in the county and found that communities with districts like ours tend to better maintain their property values than communities without these districts. The City needs the tax base the Woodlands provides. So, you would think this would be a no-brainer.
At the workshop, board members were considering ways to fund the study instead of waiting for the funds.
I suggested tapping into our WHOA security budget to which Larry Torn would not consider. Instead, the board wants to consider asking residents to pitch in $35 each to help fund it.
Gomez suggested that residents could contribute money towards the study. “Is it worth it to give up two cups of coffee a week?” Said Gomez.
At closing, it was decided that a community meeting will be held at the Woodlands Country Club in May. The cost for renting the clubhouse would be $1,000. There was no clear agenda on what would discussed at the May meeting and how the board would notify residents of it.
- Sharon Aron Baron created the Woodlands Tamarac in 2010 for original News for the community. In 2011 she went on to create Tamarac Talk, in 2012, Coral Springs Talk and 2017, Parkland Talk.