Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Chamber Has Monthly Breakfast

On the first Friday of each month, the Lauderhill Chamber of Commerce has its breakfast at the Inverrary Country Club, 3840 Inverrary Blvd. The breakfast begins at 8:00 AM, and features a speaker to talk on matters related to your business. It is open to members and non-members who may have interest in the Chamber.

For more information about the Lauderhill Chamber of Commerce, you can call 954-318-6118 or 954-605-5996.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Unitown 2006 A Success

Our Participants from Lauderhill

Over Presidents' Weekend, children from Lauderhill, Coral Springs and North Lauderdale met in Palm Beach County to participate in the Unitown 2006 program. Arrange by the National Conference for Community Justice (NCCJ), and sponsored by the cities, the event was to introduce kids from different backgrounds so they may learn from each other.

The motto of the program is "Prejudice is a Disease, Don't Make Me Sick." After an intense weekend of activities, the participates learn that being different from each other is not something to be ridiculed by. That we all are one people, and these differences need to be understood, and not to used to judge others. Many lasting relationships have been developed from this experience. For more photos: http://mail.lauderhill-fl.gov/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://lauderhill-fl.gov/unitown/

Thursday, February 23, 2006

CRA's and You - Part II

Over the last several months the CRA Board (composed of the Mayor and City Commissioners) have passed both the State Road 7 and Central Lauderhill CRA plans. Details of these plans can be found at: http://www.lauderhill.net/dept_cra.html. Each plan lays out what Lauderhill intends to accomplish in each area, to remove the problems so prevelant in those areas.

The Central Lauderhill plans include the rebuilding of a new City Hall on Oakland Park Blvd., and the introduction of new housing at the site of what remains of City Hall. Also, purchase for redevelopment of Mission Lake Plaza, plus road and drainage improvements. The State Road 7 plans include redevelopment of the corridoor with new streetscapes and landscaping, mixed use retail, and an international market place.

Each of these plans are feasible with the support of the City and the community. When completed, there will be remarkable changes in the face of the region, along with a significant improvement in the quality of life.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Campaign Ad Released by Mayor

Mayor Kaplan revealed his new campaign ad for the Lauderhill election for March 14. Distribution is presently underway.

Political advertisement paid for and approved by Richard J. Kaplan, non-partisian, for Lauderhill Mayor-Seat 5

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Valentine Concert a Success

On Feb. 11, the Magic City Philharmonic Pops Orchestra performed at the Lauderhill Sports Park, to rave reviews. The orchestra, with 37 members (many formerly of the Florida philharmonic Orchestra) and 2 vocalists, performed for 1 1/2 hours to the delight of the audience. Not only were the Classical pieces performed, but also Big Band, and Broadway tunes.

The event was presented by County Line Chiropractic, Dr. Jensen, located in Lauderhill at the SuperTarget. This was the first for Lauderhill in providing a new type of cultural event to its residents.

With such a strong interest in this type of event, Mayor Richard Kaplan already working on future concerts of this type. It is hoped that the city will be able to provide 2 such concerts per year. The concert for Valentines, and another for the holidays. More information will follow as the event is created.

Mayor Kaplan gives his wife, Lynn, flowers at the concert for Valentines Day

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Notes from Commission Meeting and CRA Meeting of Feb. 13

On February 13, the City Commission met both as to a Regular Commission Meeting, and as the CRA Board. As to the regular meeting, the Commission's business included:

1) Approval on first reading of a State Road 7 Redevelopment Trust Fund for the CRA to collect funds and finance improvements on the corridor;
2) Approval on first reading the issuance of a $10,000,000 bond to repay the costs to the city incurred for Hurricane Wilma repairs and cleanup. The city has already expended $6,000,000, and is expecting within 1 to 2 years to be reimbursed from FEMA. To the extent the city is not reimbursed, plus interest on the loan, Lauderhill will have to absorb as a loss;
3) Final Approval on ordinances restricting adult entertainment, adult video/bookstores, and prohibiting adult related language on signs advertising such services;
4) Appointing members to the Public Art Committee, Nuisance Abatement Board, and Unsafe Structures Board;
5) Approved an agreement for FPL to install a 15' chain link fence around their substation, adjacent to the athletic fields at Lauderhill Middle School (also requesting further discussion to upgrade the type of fencing);
6) Approved a contract for design services for the walls being built in the city under the Capital Improvement Bond Issue.

At the CRA Meeting, the Commission approved proceeding with negotiations on purchase of certain properties in Central Lauderhill, and the implementation of eminent domain proceedings if negotiations are not successful. All items passed unanimously, except Commission Howard Berger voted against the approval of a contract for the voluntary purchase of the Mission Lakes Plaza. The purchase was with the intent to remove the commercial areas from the residential neighborhood to reduce crime and lower traffic flow. This area has been problem for the city for over 25 years, and the only time crime has decreased there was during the time the center was rebuilt following the fire that burnt down half of it.

Commissioners Berger justified his vote against by stating that the city will lose revenue by closing the center, and that if the city spent tax money on rebuilding the center for a private owner and expanding even more police services to it, we could eliminate the crime problem.

It was pointed out to him by several people that when we had the old City Hall, Main Police Station, Police Sub-station, and Main Fire Station adjacent to the property, it did not resolve the problem. That the property has been recently rebuilt so that it did not need to be rebuilt further, and therefore spending more tax money to rebuild would not help the situation as well. That devoting continual police support (as in a private security service) to the center is an option not given to any other business, and was not believed would be viable on a long term basis. It was also pointed out that nothing previously has worked on reducing crime or traffic flow in the area, and it has been a continual and significant drain on city services. Therefore, the remaining Commissioners and Mayor voted to support the recommendation of the Executive Director to proceed with the purchase.

The future use of this property, plus old City Hall and the land on the SW corner of 19th Ave. and 55th Street, is for additional park land and/or housing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Problems With Permitting

One of the most common calls received relates to problems with obtaining a permit from the city. Over the last several months, Lauderhill has received more requests for permits, due to Wilma, then any other time in its history. With the normal complement of staff, the need to relocate, and the unusual number of filings, there was a backup in the issuance of permits. During this time, staff did its best to expedite application, especially on critical safety issues. This was common in every city locally.

The good news is that staff has caught up on the backlog several weeks ago, and is now operating at a normal schedule again. However, there has been another reason for the problem, and it is not the fault of the city.

Because of the perception of City Hall's being difficult, or slow, to work with, it has always been easy for a contractor to say that any delay, no matter why, is the fault of City Hall. Prior to Wilma, over 85% of all inquiries to me as to "Why City Hall is delaying my Permit?", has been found not to be City Hall's fault. Usually it is the excuse of the contractor who can't perform timely or properly for a property owner. Property owners accept this excuse readily.

Even now I still hear this story, and when investigated, found that City Hall has issued the permit, or the Contractor has a problem with the request for the permit that they have not addressed, let alone told the property owner. The answer on why a Contractor may do this is simple, lack of a necessary ingredient to be able to do the job, and a simple explanation to a property owner that give them more time is always accepted. Missing ingredients tend to be lack of materials or personnel. However, sometimes it is because the Contractor just fails to submit the paper work as required.

Therefore, I am asked "How can a Property Owner know what is going on?" For this I have responded, "If your Contractor tells you the delay in permitting (or an inspection) is due to City Hall, call (or go to) City Hall and ask the question directly." If you find out that it is not City Hall that caused the problem, confront your Contractor with this information. If City Hall has delayed it unreasonably, then that is when you need to contact your elected officials to seek help or at least an explanation. Of course, if you are having a problem in contacting City Hall, or would prefer to talk with your elected officials first, please feel free to do so.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Happy Valentines Day

Just a reminder to all, remember your loved one this February 14. Have a Happy Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Free Youth Art Classes

Classes are being given each Saturday at St. George Park, 3501 NW 8th Street, Lauderhill, for youths. Grades K-3 are from 10 to 10:45, and Grades 4-6 are from 11 - 11:45 AM. This is a free drop-in program, and the parents/guardians are responsible for their child at all times. Registration is available at the front desk at St. George Community Center.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Notes of the Commission Meeting of 1/30/06

On Jan. 30, the Commission did hear and respond to the following items of interest:

1) Creation of a Public Arts Committee. Appointments to be made at a future Commission Meeting. Anyone interested, with a background in the arts, is urged to apply by sending their resume to the City Clerk (call 954-714-5566 for more information);

2) Removal of the overlay district for Cannon Point. The present uses will be grandfathered in, but in the future, no additional ACLF's, nursing homes, or other similar uses will be permitted. This was to address the issues caused by property owners/operators in the area who have failed to maintain and protect their clients;

3) Final passage of providing the additional homestead exemption to those over 65, making less than a specific amount of income. The exemption will be for an additional $25,000 from the value of the taxable property;

4) Approved an interlocal agreement with Ft. Lauderdale and Dania Beach to create an enterprise zone;

5) Approval of the creation of the Central Lauderhill CRA Redevelopment Plan (a future article will be written on this);

6) Approval of a bid in excess of $3 million to provide for construction of the concrete walls in West Lauderhill, and the Homes of Inverrary area. This is for the majority of the walls, but not all of them. Construction to begin shortly, and completion is expected to be this year;

7) Notice given of official intent to issue tax exempt bonds to pay for construction, equipping and installation of improvements to the city's water and sewer system;

8) Approved contract for new lighting at Veterans Park;

9) Approved grant application and receipt of grant funds for development of Ilene Lieberman Park;

10) Approved resolutions allowing the future construction of the Central Broward Regional Park (additional approvals will subsequently be required);

11) Approval for an Agreement with Broward County for the #6 Free Community Shuttle Bus, to provide service to the Lauderhill Industrial Park, West Ken Lark, Swap Shop, St. George, Broward Estates, Plantation General Hospital, Carishoca, and the new Central Broward Regional Park/Cultural Arts Facility/Library. Service to start February or March;

12) Discussion concerning the setting of Pre-budget Workshops for this year, to include an extra workshop for the newly annexed areas;

13) Submittal to the City Manager a request for funds from the Capital Improvement Bond of less than $16,000, for improvements to the Inverrary Waterfall area. The expenditure is within the guidelines of the bond, and is expected to be approved.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Mayor Re-Elected as Chair of Florida MPOAC

On Jan. 26, Mayor Richard J. Kaplan, was re-elected to be the Chair of the Florida Metropolitan Planning Organization Advisory Council (MPOAC). This is the state organization representing all Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) in the State of Florida. Mayor Kaplan is also the Chair of the Broward County MPO, which is a member of the MPOAC.

MPO's were created by Federal Law for the purpose of planning transporation matters within urbanized areas of the United States. Presently, there are 388 MPO's in the U.S., with 26 of them in Florida. Prior to proceeding with transporation projects, MPO's are charged with the responsibility of determining when and how a particular transporation or transporation related matter may go forward. Road, transit, airports, seaports, bicycle lanes, beautification projects along transit routes, sidewalks, and greeways are just a few of the matters an MPO may have to review.

Mayor Kaplan has served on the MPOAC since 1992, and has been its chair since 2000.

Friday, February 03, 2006

City Manager Wants Radio Station for Lauderhill

Charles Faranda, Lauderhill's City Manager, has been exploring the option of Lauderhill obtaining its own radio station. The purpose of having a station would be to have the ability to broadcast city events and news (similar to the purpose of this Newsletter).

In times of emergencies, such as hurricanes, the city would be in a position to provide accurate and quick information to the public on a mass scale. It would serve the health, safety and welfare of the cities residents, which is the objective of any city to do.

At this time, we are working with several interest parties to see about the feasibility of the project, and hope that Lauderhill will have a station in use in the near future. More information is to follow.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

FPL's Response to Build a Stronger Grid for the Future

This is an e-mail I received from FPL concerning improving the power grid for Florida:


Dear Community Leader:

Today FPL announced a comprehensive, progressive and industry setting five-point program to build a stronger electrical grid for the future.

We have developed our sweeping proposal over the past three months, conducting extensive analyses either directly ourselves or with the aid of external resources such as FEMA, on the evidence of seven hurricane events that our system has experienced in the last two seasons: Charley, Frances,Jeanne, Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Equally important, we have received valuable input from local and state officials, emergency managers, community leaders and customers, whose expectations and sentiments have been expressed in the wake of this past storm season. After discussion and input from many of you, we are committing our company to implement the measurers set forth below, which will harden our infrastructure both in the short-term and in years to come, including:

Hardening the Electric Network for the Long Term, including adopting National Electric Safety Code (NESC) extreme wind velocity zone criteria as the standard for all new construction and system upgrades (up to 150 mph in certain areas), using construction methods such as undergrounding, stronger poles (concrete poles in particular in many instances), shorter spans, guying, etc., as well as upgrading existing overhead main lines, initially targeting those serving top critical infrastructure facilities and major thoroughfares.

Aggressively Promoting and Investing in Underground Conversions, including paying 25% of the cost of local government-sponsored overhead-to-underground conversion projects otherwise borne by the requesting locality; facilitating undergrounding projects by allowing cable, conduit and above-ground transformers and switch cabinets to be placed in road rights-of-way under specific standards and agreements; and aggressively pursuing legislation and local ordinances requiring all developers to provide underground service for new subdivisions, developments and projects.

Modifying and Enhancing Our Current Pole Inspections, by establishing a systematic ten-year inspection program for all wood poles, including those poles owned by other utilities, and working with other utilities to address "joint-use" issues pertaining to loading.

Enhancing Line Clearing and Vegetation Management Practices, by accelerating trimming along main lines to complete 75% of each year's line clearing work before the peak hurricane season, completing line clearing for circuits that serve top critical infrastructure facilities prior to every hurricane season, ensuring a 3-year line clearing cycle for all mainlines, aggressively pursuing our "Right Tree Right Place" program to educate communities regarding the placement, removal, species and type of trees that should be placed in proximity to poles and lines, and supporting legislation that would do so as well.

Completing all post-hurricane repairs and targeted facility upgrades to prepare for the 2006 hurricane season.

We have all experienced first hand the significant impact of recent hurricanes in our state. No utility has had to respond to as many direct hits by hurricanes in recent years as FPL. We recognize that if the recent cycle of increased hurricane activity is the new storm paradigm for our state, FPL's service area and its customers will undoubtedly be impacted. Without fundamental and significant changes in the way we prepare for storms and harden our infrastructure to prevent outages, we believe that the level of disruptions to our electrical system may well continue into the future. That is unacceptable to FPL, as it is unacceptable to our customers.

However, it is a reality that, regardless of the initiatives that we set forth above, when hurricanes and severe weather events impact our stated, outages will occur. It is our intention, however, to take the steps necessary to mitigate such impact. The tactical and strategic initiatives we have outlined not only address the resiliency of our system future severe weather events, but also provide for an increased level of day-to-day reliability for our customers. In addition to the initiatives outlined above, FPL intends to make further refinements to this action plan based on additional input and analyses, and will include such refinements as part of our 10-year hardening plan. We expect this plan to provide a clear road map to improving the long-term resiliency of our electric infrastructure, and will submit it to you later this year. Furthermore we will include localized hardening plans that we will share with respective community leaders and local emergency managers. No one could have predicted the storm cycle we now find ourselves facing. That said, the weather has changed, and so have we.

Below I am attaching a full copy of the plan we announce this afternoon. FPL will be working with our communities to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season, including identification and validation of critical infrastructure facilities and local priorities with emergency managers. We will be also be making further enhancements to our restoration processes as well as customer and government communications that will be ongoing. We will continue to keep you apprised of our efforts and greatly value your input, dialogue and community leadership. Thank you.

Jeffrey S. Bartel
Vice President, External Affairs"

Editor's Note: The full copy of the plan is available if e-mailed to the editor. Also, matters relating to vegetation has already been sponsored and passed by the Mayor.