Field of Dumps | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

Field of Dumps

Floyd Hull Stadium, part of a 9.2-acre park in southern Fort Lauderdale, has a special place in Tailpipe's battered heart. Fifty years ago, volunteers and players from the nonprofit Federal Little League raised enough money through cupcake sales to build the professional-looking baseball stadium that includes grandstands, an announcer's booth, eight surrounding buildings, and three practice fields.

"When I was a kid, I dreamed of playing at Floyd Hull Stadium," says Paul Guerrero, current president of the league. "It's like playing at a professional stadium."

The Federal Little League and the City of Fort Lauderdale have a unique partnership. In a contractual agreement that extends through 2025, the city got the complex as a city park in return for leasing those pristine baseball diamonds back to the league during the baseball season.

But apparently no one told City Manager George Gretsas, a recent New York transplant, about the arrangement. Gretsas' troops kicked the kids off the ball field two days after Hurricane Wilma bashed South Florida, then ordered city dump trucks to fill the Field of Dreams with 30-foot-high mounds of smashed ficus and banyan trees.

"They destroyed my fields," Guerrero says with barely concealed anguish.

"They knew about this storm at least seven days in advance," adds Cliff Iacino, president of the Edgewood Civic Association. "Why would the city choose to destroy its parks for emergency management? You do that as an absolutely last resort."

David Hebert, a spokesman for the city, responds like a bear whose hibernation snooze has been interrupted. "I certainly appreciate that little league to individuals is an important part to their children's life and their development," Hebert says. "But I am sure you can find a lot of people in this city who wish this emergency didn't impact their lives in the manner it did."

Hebert says Federal Little League may be misinterpreting the contract. The league has priority over other organizations, he suggests, but not over the city. "This was an emergency situation. You have to consider that fuel wasn't being pumped. We had to remove the debris and remove it to a place where [dump trucks] burn as little fuel as possible."

League officials say it will cost at least $50,000 to restore the field to playable condition before the new baseball season starts early next year. Repairs could take months, Iacino says, and Fort Lauderdale residents will foot the bill.

"It's just sheer waste," Iacino says.

Hold on a smoke-belching minute, Hebert responds. "As expensive as baseball fields might be, given the fact that we were looking at emergency life support systems, emergency access to deal with the criminal element, emergency access to fires and damaged property, and downed electrical lines, I can't say honestly we considered how much it would cost to make repairs to the fields."

Sound fiscal management doesn't come easy in normal circumstances. Why should Fort La-De-Da, which teeters on the verge of bankruptcy, do any better during an emergency?

Hold the Mayo

From Michael Mayo's November 8 column in the Sun-Sentinel:

We should also hit FPL where it hurts, in the pocketbook.

I'm not suggesting we skip our entire bills. But maybe it's time to boycott the most ridiculous part, a hurricane surcharge approved by the PSC after last year's storm season...

And if you want to send a symbolic message to FPL, deduct a buck from your next bill to protest the hurricane surcharge. That's what I'm going to do. I'm also going to write a message on the bill, saying "Sorry, you don't deserve it."

If we all do it, you think they'll turn the lights out?

More power to us.

From the Sun-Sentinel's unsigned editorial on November 17:

Clearly, the utility's grid is exposed to storms, and regulators and lawmakers must investigate to see whether more can be done — or hasn't been done — to prevent widespread and extended outages.

But mounting a don't-pay-your-bills rebellion distracts from the real issue of creating a more resilient grid. Local officials should air their grievances in the most effective arenas, the Legislature and the Public Service Commission.

BOTTOM LINE: Saber-rattling on bills won't improve FPL's grid.

In other words, Old Dog to Young Pup: "Chill out!"

Not Makin' Whoopee

While Tailpipe is happily married now, he's got plenty of sad tales about long, loveless nights. Ah, the heartbreak. But even the Ol' 'Pipe Guy can't match Zenobia, a 650-pound African lion who lives at the Destiny Big Cat Sanctuary in Southwest Ranches, for the intensity of his deprivation in those wee small hours of the mornin'.

According to Victoria Canzonetta, who founded and runs the Broward sanctuary, the drive to reproduce is so strong in male lions that not having sex actually makes them sick. The hormones that fuel the sexual urge actually turn against the male lion's body, leaving him in an extremely agitated state, which leads to health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, even cancer.