PB: He ain’t heavy…he’s exonerated!

by SDM

Careful readers may have noticed a recent uptick in guest posts from David Singer and you would be correct!

Mr. Singer sends us comments in the form of posts and when SDM likes them we post them here for your reading pleasure…after some editing. (Mr. Singer has a couple issues with punctuation and the spelling of Councilwoman Joan Lindsay’s last name, but don’t tell anyone.)

Mr. Singer has been on a tear lately over Thalatta “Park.” (We are using quotations, because Thalatta has gradually become more of a commercial operation hosting spectacular weddings instead of the park it was intended to be.)

SDM Sidebar: There was a funny moment in the Monday council meeting at 3:04:45 where Vice Mayor Dubois takes note that “we have a noise problem in Palmetto Bay…I personally get exposed to a significant amount of noise from a disco nearby me…excuse me, Thalatta Park…” He was referring to the loud parties at Thalatta that he can hear from his bay front mansion.

Mr. Singer has been agitating at the council meetings for a couple months now, stating his belief that the village’s use of Thalatta violates the agreement with the State of Florida. Of course, Village Manager Ron Williams in his perpetually dismissive attitude essentially ignored Mr. Singer – a village resident – and said there was nothing to support his claims.

Well, SDM has seen a letter from Jerry Taber of the Florida Communities Trust (the entity that monitors the funds granted to Palmetto Bay for Thalatta) to Fanny Carmona, Palmetto Bay’s Parks Director, that proves Mr. Singer was on point.

Some of you who are unfamiliar with government may read the letter below, of which we have printed the main body, and misunderstand its seriousness since it is written in the gentle language of the career bureaucrat. Make no mistake, this letter says Palmetto Bay is not operating Thalatta as it said it would and the FCT is demanding they change:

While FCT greatly appreciates your cooperation and continued commitment to provide parks for your community, after reviewing the website for Thalatta Estate, it does appear that the park is being advertised as a wedding or special event venue. We realize the importance of generating some revenue during these challenging economic times and FCT does not have a problem with utilizing the Park to hold weddings and private events providing the Park is not closed to the general public during these events. You have indicated that you will extend the hours the park will be open to the public and will be closed on Saturdays and for all private events. After reviewing the calendar on your website, it appears that there is a total of 28 remaining events scheduled in 2014 and 2015 for days, other than Saturday, that the Park should be open to the general public. FCT would like a commitment that the Park will be open to the general public during the posted hours, except for the remaining events on your calendar, and will not be closed on Sundays or weekdays during normal hours for any other private events going forward.

Pursuant to the approved Management Plan, page 5, the 5th paragraph states “The project site will be identified in all literature and advertising as acquired with funds from the “Florida Communities Trust” and operated as a natural conservation area, outdoor recreation area or other appropriate descriptive language. It doesn’t appear that FCT or the project site is mentioned as being operated as a natural conservation area, outdoor recreation area or other appropriate descriptive language on the Thalatta Estate website. We would recommend that the website first be used to advertise Thalatta Estate as a park and museum with weddings as a secondary event, this would help in complying with the intent of the FCT program.

There is also a minimal amount of interpretative signage at the park, FCT would like to see more signage or a kiosk designed to educate visitors about the historical resources, native vegetative and animal communities that are unique to the area. FCT understands the Village is in the process of providing more signage.

Since the museum was completed in September of 2013, FCT understands that the Village is looking for partners to conduct the required educational programs. Please revise the Priority Schedule in the Management Plan to show when facilities were completed and an estimate of when the Village will provide the required 12 annual educational programs.

Please revise Section 4.0, Site Development and Improvement, of the Management Plan identifying the specific word changes […] on the affected pages of the Management Plan.

With these minor changes FCT finds that the Village is in Compliance with the approved Management Plan and Declaration of Restrictive Covenants. Please provide a response to our concerns by June 9, 2014.

SDM Says: Palmetto Bay now has a problem at Thalatta. Either the village opens the park to visitors during special events or it must make the weddings secondary to the park use. Whether wedding planners will continue to use the facility while party crashers wander the grounds is anyone’s guess. What we know for sure is that the grand plans of Mayor Stanczyk and Village Manager Ron “Hubris” Williams must be subjected to serious review by the council, especially since the both championed the improvements to Thalatta that were intended to make it a better wedding location. Thankfully, the last council, under intense pressure from former Councilman Tendrich, scaled back the wedding planner’s seven-figure fantasy or we would have wasted even more precious tax dollars on the Thalatta debacle.

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