It's so rare for people to get together and protest in Broward County for anything that isn't tied to some union and pay.
That's why I'm heartened by the protest that's going to take place at the Sunrise City Commission at tonight's meeting. A slew of environmentalists are going to rail against the building of the Corporate Everglades Park, a huge 450,000 square foot hotel and office development slated to go up west of the Sawgrass Expressway near the end of Sunrise Boulevard. That's right, it'll be a giant development right there in what's remaining of the River of Grass itself.
I first wrote about this abomination of a project last December. In it I detailed how Ruden & McClosky lobbyist Dennis Mele was throwing fundraisers for Sunrise city commissioners like Roger Wishner and Don Rosen, raising all kinds of cash to grease the wheels for their monstrosity.
I spoke with Wishner about it and he played the middle of the fence. He told me he takes his kids to the site where the building is to be built to enjoy nature and ride bikes. I asked him if he thought this thing would ruin those outings. "Well, we would be riding on asphalt instead of the dirt path," he said.
Right, Roger, now let me tell you something, Mayor: You better think long and hard about what you do at tonight's meeting, because this is the type of issue that is going to define your character and career. There is a clear right and wrong here, Roger, no matter how much money your campaign received. If you do the wrong thing here, what else are you doing? (You too Don Rosen).
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The real crime here is that the city is bending over backwards to make the project even bigger, on the obscene reasoning that high-density projects are best placed on or near the Everglades so they won't upset nearby neighborhoods. Folks, that's a bad city that dreams up something like that. They call it B7 zoning and that's what the vote is about tonight. So tonight's vote is even bigger than the ECP project.
After I wrote about it, I contacted environmentalists and shared the story to get the word out. It was the only hope of killing this thing (along with Commissioner Sheila Alu, who is stepping up to the plate to do the right thing and strongly oppose the zoning change). Word got around and now we've got a little movement going -- strengthened by the fact that the Sun-Sentinel finally picked up on it and led the local front with it this morning.
In Susannah Bryan's story, lobbyist Mele, playing the stock villain role, defends the project. Can you imagine having this guy's job? His life has been tied up in paying off politicians (campaigns) to build an unwanted and unneeded pile of concrete on top of one of the most beautiful places on earth. Better hope karma is a myth.