Opinion: Time to Act Against Shady Shaker Village Deal

shady Shaker Village Deal: A Taxpayer's Burden or Political Maneuvering?"

Shaker Village in Tamarac. {Google Maps}

By Kate Johnson

At the end of July, the City of Tamarac, at the behest of Vice Mayor Marlon Bolton, signed a contract with Shaker Village Condominiums to purchase a small piece of land where their dilapidated clubhouse stands.

The clubhouse was so poorly cared for that wind blew it down in August 2017. It has stood with walls covered in graffiti ever since, even though the homeowners, through their COA, received almost $400,000 in insurance funds to repair and rebuild.

Yet now, the residents of Tamarac are being asked to subsidize Shaker Village and build them a new clubhouse when up to this point – six years later – they haven’t felt the need even to have a clubhouse or repair their own property.

This will cost the taxpayers a minimum of $10 million for the honor, not to mention costs after building to maintain, insure, program, and staff it to the tune of $100,000 per year. And if it is not programmed to save money or lack of interest, why do we need it? Shaker Village wants a new clubhouse and maybe renovated tennis courts to fulfill their responsibility to the residents of their community per their association documents.

Don’t let the rhetoric fool you. It will be called a community center, but is it really?

Let me answer that: No.

The proof is in the details. On September 13, 2023, the commission will vote on a Shared Use Agreement being drawn up as a condition of the sale.

What’s a Shared Use Agreement? According to Shaker Village, during this negotiation process, they want exclusive use of “part” of the center and priority use of the rest. I have found that exclusive use means an entire floor of the two-story building just for Shaker Village.

Incontro Italian Cuisine Steakhouse

Get that? The words exclusive and priority have meaning. At taxpayers’ expense. How can city taxpayer money be used to provide a private community with a clubhouse? Legally, it can’t.

Shaker Village may have changed its mind about how it wants the shared use agreement to look, but who actually knows since neither Bolton nor City Attorney Hans Ottinot will say.

That horrible vote in July, where Bolton, Commissioners Kicia Daniel, and Morey Wright voted to purchase this property, also gave Ottinot and City Manager Levent Sucuoglu the authority to work out the deal.

But you know that Bolton is right in the mix of things since this is his baby, and he’s been involved from the start –let’s not even get into the ethics of that. No one is talking or saying where things stand. Why not? We are being asked to pay for it, so don’t we have a right to know?

In any event, this is not fair or equitable for all Tamarac residents who are being asked to fork over even more money as the commission contemplates raising our taxes. Is this community center part of the reason to raise our taxes? Frankly, is another community center even needed?

There is no big push for a community center as no one is seeking or has asked for it, except Bolton and the Shaker Village Board of Directors. (The board hasn’t asked the residents for a vote per their association documents). The best use for the city to recoup its money is to build a few more townhomes, resell them, and make a profit. But, as one Shaker Village board member told me, what good is it to sell the land if we don’t get a clubhouse out of it? Again, the proof is in the details.

From NW 64th Avenue east to the end of District 1, there are approximately 22 clubhouses in the 28 communities.

The “east” side of Tamarac, as it has been dubbed, which contains the original communities in the city, were all created to have “condominium-like amenities.” This was the sales pitch of founder Ken Behring, and it is in all of the publications about the city. As all communities have these amenities, is a community center really needed when we have a very nice community center located 2.5 miles away on Commercial Blvd.

It is only needed because Bolton and his family own a property in Shaker Village, and they want one. Selling the property to the city gives him financial gain, through not only the almost $2 million the city would be paying Shaker Village for the land but also because his (or should I say his church’s) property would not be assessed for the improvements that are needed to rebuild the clubhouse, tennis courts, and pool and fix the infrastructure. Bolton and his church are one, so either way, he benefits.

Again, Tamarac taxpayers would foot the bill for a community center that is not needed since, in addition to the 22 communities from East of NW 64th Avenue to the easternmost section of Tamarac that have clubhouses, approximately four other properties have or will have amenities or are close to a city park. That is 26 of 28 communities that have their own facilities.

Please work with me here on this thought. If the city has 72,000 people divided into equal-sized districts, then 18,000 people are in each. Deduct 900 people from Woodlands, District 2, and add them to District 1 count for this example since it is east of NW 64th and just south of Shaker Village.

So approximately 53,100 live West of NW 64th Avenue in Tamarac, and about 18,900 live east of NW 64th Avenue in Tamarac.

Of the 18,900 people living East of NW 64th Avenue, approximately 15,000 live between NW 64th Avenue and State Road 7, leaving about 3,900 people living east of there. Within the area of the 15,000 residents, there are approximately 24 communities with clubhouses or amenities.

Is it a fiscally responsible decision to spend the amount of money being contemplated to buy the property and build a community center at Shaker Village that the residents of the 358 homes will primarily use if they use it for more than a meeting space? Remember, we are looking at spending between $10-12 million on the project.

There are so many shady dealings going on and many questions. Will this clubhouse be used by anyone other than Shaker Village residents since people often don’t use the community clubhouses already developed in this section of the city? Does the Shaker Village community want a clubhouse, or is it so they don’t have to pay for the water main repairs they are responsible for through assessments?

David Mohabir

Are the residents of Shaker Village aware that they may have to pay income tax on the closing proceeds? Even if the money goes into escrow to fix the drainage system, the money is income to each homeowner. The residents of Shaker Village seem to have been doing fine without a clubhouse for at least six years. If their residents don’t care enough to take it up with their board, why should we?

“Whenever one person stands up and says, “Wait a minute, this is wrong” it helps other people do the same.” – Gloria Steinem

I understand that the agenda for the September 13 commission meeting at 7 p.m. at city hall includes voting on the Shared Use Agreement with Shaker Village — the agenda isn’t out yet, but I am pretty certain.

All residents concerned about this issue and any other issue you may wish to voice concern over, like plans to raise taxes, are invited to the city commission meeting at 6 p.m. and join others outside in protesting peacefully with posters and signs.

Afterward, during public comments,  speak your mind again respectfully during the appropriate time. Remember, peaceful is the key word. If you are uncomfortable speaking, that’s okay, as your presence will speak loudly.

The commission needs to hear that this is not okay. Protesting together will show them that.

You can find more information about the protest and let us know if you can make it by checking out the Tamarac Talk Facebook group. There are posts about it. Please comment on a post there or here so we know how many will be there. The more, the better. Let your community know.

Together, we stand firm. And some of these commissioners need to realize they can’t bully the residents, and some may be one-term wonders — as in, we wonder how they even got there.

See you at city hall, 7525 NW 88th Ave, Tamarac, FL 33321, September 13 at 6 p.m.


Shady Shaker Village Deal: A Taxpayer’s Burden or Political Maneuvering?


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