BY BUDDY NEVINS
Sunrise is at it again and this time it could affect folks living far from his fiefdom.
Mayor Roger Wishner and his city hall drones are about to approve an office park, which would be shoehorned into land between the Sawgrass Expressway and the Everglades.
Sheila Alu Is Fighting With Environmentalists Against Development
The mad men in city hall want warehouses and an office complex directly up against South Florida’s source of drinking water!
Environmentalists are fighting this and flooding city hall with e-mail. They believe that any pollution rolling off the asphalt parking lots could flow into where we get our water.
Wishner favored this project last time it came up at the city commission. So did Commissioners Joey Scuotto and Don Rosen.
Commissioner Larry Sofield is their hand picked appointee to the commission, so I figure he will vote with his patrons.
On the side of the environment is Commissioner Sheila Alu, who has fought the project from the start. The last time it came up, she was the lone vote against it.
This time she has help: The South Florida Audubon Society and the Broward Sierra Club members.
Unfortunately, those who care about the environment are outgunned.
Pushing for the development is land use lawyer Dennis Mele and his crew from the law firm of Ruden McClosky. Name partner Don McClosky is the guy who once told me the concrete block should be the symbol of Florida.
Mele currently has another controversial client – The Davie Commons.
The law firm throws $1000s to city commission candidates. Wishner and Sofield are up for re-election next year. Scuotto and Rosen just got re-elected.
Get the picture?
Another member of the development team: Rhon Ernest-Jones, former mayor of Coral Springs, who’s firm is apparently doing engineering for the project.
I fear in this battle the environmentalists are like the army of Lichtenstein lining up against Germany.
But I’ve got one question to ask Wishner and his drones in city hall. Is there any part of Sunrise that you don’t want to pave over?
Here is the e-mail that was sent to Broward environmentalists about the pending commission action. It says it all:
At the City Commission meeting on 4/28/09, the City of Sunrise will consider another blatant attack on the sanctity of the Everglades by allowing the development of the Everglades Corporate Park on the very edge of Water Conservation Area 2 that cleanses the water that supplies the Everglades and recharges the Biscayne Aquifer.
The Park will consist of a 10-story office complex and hundreds of thousands of square feet of industrial and warehouse space and will be the only development west of the Sawgrass Expressway.
Any significant chemical spill in this area will affect all of South Florida through intrusion into the aquifer and will have the potential to damage the food chain throughout the Everglades. This includes diesel fuel and oil from construction machinery, pollution from the runoff of vehicle emissions in parking lots, and various other chemicals common to industrial parks.
The project, located just north of Sunrise Boulevard and just west of I-75, will overlook the River of Grass that we are trying so desperately to restore. This will only serve to set a precedent that other money hungry developers will be quick to follow, and so far, it has been quietly helped along by a compliant City of Sunrise and the same set of lawyers and lobbyists that are behind the proposed Cocomar development in Coconut Creek,.
Kentucky-based Sawgrass Investors, and its team, the Ruden McClosky legal and lobbying firm, Rhon Ernest-Jones, a former Coral Springs mayor whose firm is engineering the project, along with the development’s lobbyist, Dennis Mele, have entered the back door of the City of Sunrise in the same quiet, underhanded fashion in which they infiltrated Coconut Creek.
Commissioner Sheila Alu is to be commended for her lone dissenting vote: “I don’t think I’ve ever been more opposed to anything in my eight years being on this commission. As you can see how close this area is to the Everglades, the only thing that buffers it is the C-13 canal… I am going to do everything in my power to fight any negative impact that this development could possibly have on the ecosystem.”
It is time to give Ms Alu some much needed help, and stand up for the Everglades. If Florida is really going to make some progress in restoring the Everglades, we must see that this kind of development is stopped before it begins. Please help us make the City of Sunrise Commission understand that the environment is much more important than filling some already well-stuffed pockets.
If you can make it, please attend the Commission meeting on 4/28/09. The City Commission office is on the fourth floor of City Hall, 10770 West Oakland Park Boulevard, Sunrise, FL. 33351.
Please email the Sunrise City Commission to voice your disapproval of this unwelcome precedent.
Mayor Roger B. Wishner, Deputy Mayor Donald K. Rosen, Assistant Deputy Mayor Sheila D. Alu, Commissioner Joseph A. Scuotto, Commissioner Lawrence A. Sofield.
Audubon South Florida
Director of Wildlife Policy
Conservation and Environment Chair