Video coverage CBS Miami
By Sallie James
Protesters waving picket signs mobbed Tamarac City Hall on Wednesday to weigh in on the controversial commission purchase of a private clubhouse that is now the subject of a lawsuit.
A standing-room-only crowd of more than 200 residents packed the Commission Chambers and spilled outside.
“Tamarac City Commissioners are Deaf, Dumb and Blind,” announced one sign held by a resident. Another sign positioned above a flaming money collection bucket was labeled “To Taxpayers’ Needs.”
Tamarac’s plan to buy the dilapidated Shaker Village clubhouse property on Commercial Boulevard west of Florida’s turnpike and replace it with a taxpayer-funded community center has turned resident against resident and divided the city. On Wednesday, those for and against the clubhouse sale exchanged heated comments in person, from the podium, and on social media.
“It’s incomprehensible that any HOA would ask the city to purchase land and build and maintain their clubhouse at taxpayer expense,” seethed Tamarac resident Angie Greico.
Commissioners spent three hours listening to public comments about the project, with about 50 people voicing concerns.
The meeting ended shortly before 1 a.m. when commissioners unanimously voted to give Shaker Village 90 additional days from a September 26 deadline to resolve the pending litigation and title defects, 14 business days to allow the city to decide if it should move forward with a sale; and 30 days to close on the sale if all issues have been resolved.
The Commission also nixed a request by Shaker Village for designated office space in the proposed community center.
The already controversial sale got even dicier on Tuesday when a Shaker Village resident sued the Shaker Village Condominium Association Inc. to halt the sale until Association members have voted on whether to authorize it. The lawsuit claims Shaker Village is “stripping members of the Association of their ownership rights in Association property.”
The lawsuit impeded closure on the clubhouse property, forcing commissioners to extend the process.
During the meeting, many speakers characterized the city’s east side as neglected, with fewer amenities than the west, and called for greater unity and equality. Others slammed the proposal as a bailout with taxpayer dollars.
One group of Shaker Village residents wore red t-shirts emblazoned with the words “Our Community, Our Commissioner, Our Future.” One resident waved a sign that said, “We are One Tamarac,” while another carried a placard proclaiming Vice Mayor Marlon Bolton “Superman.”
“Please spend money all over the city because when you do, it benefits everyone,” Shaker Village resident Colleen McCormick chided commissioners. In comparing the city’s west side to the east, she said the west was “gorgeous” because more money had been spent there.
Woodlands Lakes Estates resident Maria Deen posted this on the social media app NextDoor: “If this goes through, every HOA in Tamarac should be eligible to be bailed out by the city. Fair is fair. So, all those who live within an HOA get your needs in order and petition the city. We all need to speak out against this.”
Adding to the outrage is that Bolton lives in Shaker Village and rents a townhouse owned by the church where he is pastor. Many residents believe he has a conflict of interest and should have recused himself from the vote because he stands to benefit.
The Shaker Village saga heated up this summer when Tamarac Commissioners voted 3-2 on July 12 to buy the 2.4-acre clubhouse property for nearly $1.9 million and replace the destroyed clubhouse with a city-owned community center. Mayor Michelle Gomez and Commissioner Elvin Villalobos were the sole “no” votes.
- Sallie James is a veteran reporter/blogger/copywriter who spent most of her writing career in South Florida, including 22 years at the Sun Sentinel. She has also freelanced for The Coastal Star, South Florida Gay News & Florida Weekly. Sallie is the mother of grown boy/girl twins, a Guardian ad Litem, an animal rescuer, and a longtime Tamarac resident. She earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from Indiana University.
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