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Cocoa Beach: “Nothing Historical About” Surf Restaurant?

So there we were, sitting peacefully on a cloudy Friday doing work and getting ready for the weekend with the wife and kids when the text came in:

“CBV is blowing up.”

“CBV” is the Facebook page “Cocoa Beach Votes,” a page that is devoted strictly to issues in Cocoa Beach. We had mentioned them before. Of course, “blowing up” is a term for “there’s lots of activity on that site / page.”

We grabbed some popcorn, a Dr Pepper, and headed over to the site.

The owner of the page had written an post that was two pronged. The overall post was about a post by Cocoa Beach Mayor Ben Malik on the Surf restaurant and its demolition. The owner of Cocoa Beach Vote took exception to Malik’s post not mentioning the history of the restaurant, its significance to the area, and only looking at the restaurant (and now vacant property) as a piece of real estate to sell.

(One can question whether the Mayor of a city should be advertising a property for sale and giving the name of the agent and phone number. While Malik has the right to do that, even to us that is a bit unseemly.)

Enter into the fray one “Ed Dosado.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE: We normally don’t use names of regular citizens here and refer to people as “citizens” or “residents.” Since people can see the man’s name on the posts he makes, we are going to bend that rule. However, since Google and other sites track names of people for their search engines, we aren’t going to use his last name when discussing his posts and responses. We’re just going to call him “Ed.”

Ed’s first comment out of the gate is telling:
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Cocoa Beach: Cocoa Beach Pier Damaged In Storm.

(Image courtesy WKMG)

The Cocoa Beach Pier was damaged by high winds on August 3, 2017.

COCOA BEACH, Fla. – Three people were injured Thursday when strong wind gusts damaged the roof of a bar at the Cocoa Beach Pier, fire officials said.

The incident was caused by a microburst of strong weather around 3:15 p.m., with winds recorded at 50-60 mph, according to the National Weather Service. A microburst is a sudden, powerful air current.
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Part of the roof and canopy at Pelican’s Bar and Grill was blown off, officials with the Cocoa Beach Fire Department said. Some wiring was exposed because of the damage.

“It came from nowhere. We were just chilling under the pier and some lightning bolts and everyone started to shelter under the pier and in a couple of minutes, sand started going everywhere, the umbrella started flying, everyone took shelter under the pier,” said Kevin Brongers, who was on the beach during the storm.

Three people with minor injuries were treated at the scene. Officials did not say what type of injuries people had.

The pier is expected to be closed until sometime next week.

As a both a tourist attraction and a eating destination for some locals, we certainly hope the Pier gets back up and running as soon as safely possible.

But the incident raises another question concerning the safety of the planned amusement park rides.

When the rides were proposed by Westgate, they assured the residents and the Board of Adjustments that the rides could be taken down in 2 hours and stored or removed from the site.

Yet on August 3rd, there was no 2 hour warning for this microburst.

The winds were suddenly there.
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Cocoa Beach: Commission Workshop And Charter Review Committee.

Tonight at 8:00 PM, the City of Cocoa Beach City Commission will be having a workshop on Charter Review Committee followed by a meeting of the Charter Review Committee itself.

According to the agenda for the workshop, the

Provide guidance to the Cocoa Beach Charter Review Committee on the review of the City Charter.

– Convey the reasons behind the creation of the Charter Review Committee and discuss sense of purpose.
– Communicate lingering concerns about the Charter.
– Offer advice on the review process: if there should be a completely new Charter, or amendments to the current Charter, if the review should be conducted section -by-section, and/or by topic.

We wonder why the City Council is giving “guidance” to an independent Committee?

Our skepticism is based on this statement from Resolution 2017-09 which established the Charter Committee itself:

WHEREAS the City Commission desires input on proposed Charter amendments from a broad range of residents….

We find this call of the Committee in front of the Commission to be curious, to say the least. If Commission members want to talk to the Charter Review Committee they have the means to do it by attending the meetings of the Committee itself. Perhaps we are reading too much into this, but it almost seems as if the Commission set up the Committee as an independent body and now wants to tell the Committee what it needs to look at, address and change.

We do know two things:
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Cocoa Beach: “Welcome To The Party, Pal!”

In the 1988 action thriller film “Die Hard,” there is a scene where the Bruce Willis character John McClain throws a terrorist / thief out of the window. The body falls and lands on a police squad car – the same police that McClain has been desperately trying to convince that the building is under attack and the people inside are being held at gun point.

After the body crashes into the windshield of the car, McClain shouts “Welcome to the party, Pal!”

(You can see the line here, and the clip in context here. (Warning: NSFW language in the second clip.)

One of the stronger presences on Facebook dealing with government issues in Cocoa Beach is a page called “Cocoa Beach Vote.”

The page regularly links to us and takes excerpts from here, so we keep an eye on them and what they are up to.

As they deal with general issues in Cocoa Beach, you should keep an eye on them as well.

However, a new page has appeared dealing with Cocoa Beach and this one is more focused on one issue – the amusement park rides Westgate is planning to install at the Cocoa Beach Pier.
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Westgate, Cocoa Beach, And Expectations.

Last night the Cocoa Beach Board of Adjustment met and unanimously decided to pass a special exemption to Westgate Resorts allowing the company to erect three amusement rides in walkway near the Cocoa Beach Pier, which is owned by Westgate.

We had written about the agenda item here and were interested to see whether Westgate would have to supply the same information other applicants would have to supply or would Westgate get preferential treatment of some sort.

We should have known better than to even wonder.

Proposed location of rides.

First, we want to say that Westgate has done a good if not great job of renovating the Pier and making it better than it was when it was first constructed. The Pier had falling into disrepair and Westgate changed that.

However, it should be remembered that Westgate didn’t do the work out of the kindness and goodness of their heart. They did it to make money. A profit off of their investment. We take no issue with them looking to make a buck off of the Pier and their investment in it. It’s a business and we respect that. However, unlike many, we don’t feel the need to thank them for it. We don’t need to give them accolades for engaging in their business of buying, renovating and maintaining properties.

Many of the people who supported this project cited how great Westgate had been in the renovation of the pier. Some of the supporters (most actually) work for Westgate in some capacity now or in the past. Many of them spoke about the exacting standards and planning the company exhibits on a constant basis. Being great in the past may mean people are less skeptical of you. It doesn’t mean that you get a free pass from the City.

If you think they should be thanked endlessly, let us know the next time City officials come to your home and thank you for making improvements and maintaining your property.

The agenda item itself started out with City Planner Sue Ryan making the presentation for Westgate. It was not, as one would hope and expect from a City employee, neutral in any way. Ryan said Westgate had plans in place to address lighting concerns for both neighbors and sea turtles saying “they can turn [the lights] down.

Last meeting, when the BOA was dealing with the outdoor proposed outdoor seating at the marina restaurant, the applicant was grilled on the type of lights that would be used and was asked to show the fixtures they would use to shield the lights from residents living across the water. The BOA wanted an exacting plan.

Westgate?
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Cocoa Beach: The Pier And Amusement Park Rides.

This ought to be interesting.

Today at 5:15 PM, the Board of Adjustment will hold a meeting at which time one of the agenda items is allowing Westgate Resorts, the owners of the Cocoa Beach Pier, to install three amusement park rides in the pedestrian walkway of the area.

Proposed location of rides.

This is going to be fascinating to watch.

Westgate is one of the “big hitters” in the City and has a great deal of pull within City Hall. Will this application get any special treatment that other businesses have not?

“What special treatment?” you ask?

The BOA has, for better or worse, been extremely hard on businesses and have put restrictions on noise and impact far beyond what may be allowed by the Code and by law. They have literally made smaller companies and businesses jump through hoops that existing businesses to not have to comply with and in doing so, place the newer companies at a disadvantage with increased costs.

For example, the BOA has often taken into consideration complaints and concerns from home owners and condos that are not abuttors or even abuttors to abuttors.

Here, just to the south of proposed location there is a group of condos. Just to the south of them, there is another group of condos. Will the BOA consider the impact of these amusement rides on those condos?

For example, anyone who has ever gone to the yearly Our Savior Carnival (or any carnival or State Fair) knows the volume of music from rides is incredibly loud. They are designed that way. The music is designed to draw people in. In many cases, the music is so loud that you cannot communicate on the ride.

But there is another reason for the volume of the music. It is there to cover up the mechanical noise of ride itself. Once again, if you have ever attended a carnival or State Fair, you know you can feel the ground shake when walking past rides. That music and vibration will be transmitted to the condos and while you can reduce the volume of the music, you cannot reduce or eliminate the vibration. In fact, if you think about it, most portable carney rides like this get set up on dirt to help dissipate the vibration. Here, the rides are being set up on concrete – in effect a drum head that will extend the vibration out further than if the ride was sitting on dirt.

If you look at the documentation within the agenda item, there is no data on volume or vibration.

Will the BOA consider that or let it slide because, well, because it is Westgate?
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Cocoa Beach – CRA And Commission Meeting Tonight.

Cocoa Beach will be hosting a CRA and a regular Commission meeting tonight starting at 6:30 PM.

The agendas for both meetings can be found here.

The big item in the CRA meeting is the approval of a $4.7 million dollar loan for the new downtown City buildings. The amount won’t cover all of the costs (not even close) but the loan will have the ability to extend payments to the end of the life of the CRA itself in in 2032.

Frankly, we are puzzled by this and one of these days we are going to have to sit down and figure out how a City with similar populations to towns south (Indian Harbor and Satellite Beach) has a budget 4 times greater than those two towns and is still clamoring for more money. We know that there are differences in some services as in the number of patrolling police and a larger fire department, but that doesn’t account for the differences. One of these days we are going to have to sit down and go line by line through the various budgets of the towns and see what is being spent where.

The regular meeting is somewhat basic. There is an item agenda for approving the location of a new emergency services tower that had been discussed before.

There is also the contract for the new legal firm which is set to take effect July 1 and run for five years.

As always, the meeting(s) can be seen on the City’s website and on Spectrum channel 497.

Hope to see you at the meeting where you can make your voice heard.



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Cocoa Beach: “They Did A Complete Job.”

“They did a complete job,” is how CRA Administrator Melissa Byron characterized the application for submitted by the Cape Canaveral Masonic Lodge for a CRA grant on Thursday, June 1, 2017.

As we noted the other day, the application was missing a site plan. The application was missing comparable estimates for the work on the building. The application was missing a second estimate for the awning. The application was missing two estimates for signage. The application was missing estimates for landscaping and the plants that are going to be used in the landscaping.

All those things are required by the application.

None were done.

Yet Byron said the application was a “complete job.”

We’d hate to see an “incomplete job.”

Unfortunately, things did not get better for facts and things to consider for this grant.
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