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Posted on Jun 26, 2013 in Speak Up | 6 comments

City Politics: New Fire Station Erupts in Controversy

City Politics: New Fire Station Erupts in Controversy

Written by: Mark Clancey

Sex, lies and video streaming — starring the City Commission and residents who oppose a new fire station design and 60’ height variance. Tempers flared as last week’s Commission meeting progressed, then digressed into the bizarre and ludicrous. The mayor acknowledged that the process for choosing a design and approving a height variance for the brand new Fire Station #1 was, indeed, “streamlined.”

First up on the agenda was to approve either the “mid-century modern” or “Key West” design concepts drawn up by the architect-consultant in artist renderings. This citizen cautioned the Commission not to take the results of a planning “charrette” (architecture pow-wow), a mere two nights earlier, as a mandate. On social media public opinion was running dramatically opposite to the 112/45 vote count. Online commenters favored, hands down, the Key West cottage style over the 1950’s era design favored by City Hall.

Defensive, one of the commissioners criticized my suggestion of conducting a survey to poll the roughly 2,000 recipients of the City’s newsletter, thereby engaging a much larger audience than the 157 charretteers. The irritated commissioner claimed a survey would “not be anywhere near as credible as the people that showed up the other night.” He said it would be impossible to know if the respondents were legitimate residents and property owners. Yet at the charrette, no one asked for my papers.

The next morning, in a stroke of astonishing irony, all city newsletter subscribers received in their inboxes — you guessed it — a survey from City Hall! Hosted on Survey Monkey, it asked respondents to answer a series of well crafted questions designed to build support for City Hall’s marketing and promotion plans.

Sexual innuendo entered the debate as a former mayor claimed that allowing a 60’ high station would give firefighters a peek into the backyards of residents on Sunset Drive where they might “ogle” sunbathers, prompting sarcastic laughter from the firefighter wing of the room. A few minutes later the commissioner who had ridiculed the survey idea shot to his feet, stood erect, and pledged allegiance to the firefighters. Scowling at an opponent of the height variance — a taxpaying resident of Sunset Drive — the commissioner shouted at her that she wouldn’t even think twice if a female was in distress and the firefighters “ripped open” her blouse! The room went awkwardly silent.

A predictable and well-worn lie, that the new fire station has been in the planning stages for “10-15 years,” was repeated by proponents. The truth: A previous city administration purchased expensive frontage property on the corner of S. Orlando and 1st Street South, next to the existing fire station some years ago, only to learn that the State of Florida would not certify a firehouse there due to a turning radius problem. The newly proposed location — directly across the street next to the laundromat — has been around for a couple of years, but only formalized into a site plan this past week. More like 7 days.

Video streaming of the meeting can be found on the City’s website, but requires enormous patience given the old viewing technology. The new fire station agenda item begins at roughly 53 minutes into the City Commission meeting. Better yet, subscribe to Cocoa Beach Network News at www.cityofcocoabeach.com/subscribe and come out to the two public hearings coming up soon. Better leave the children at home.

6 Comments

  1. Clancey certainly has a way of skewing (AKA slanting) the story to conform to his apparent agenda. Little of what I read here, HIS interpretation of the meeting, would be what I call “fair and balanced”, About the only thing I can agree with is his suggestion to get out to the meetings so you do not have to hear about them from his (or my) individual points of view..

    • How would you know, Bill, you were not at the meeting?

      • Hmmm, Mark, NOT only an I on the Board of Adjustment and was at the meeting the evening before, buiit I was at a portion of the City Comission meeting you editorialize about (I happen to work…), and have viewed the in its entirety. Keep in mind it was broadcast live AND is available for viewing any time on the City web site. I have been to at least a portion of every city commission meeting this year! I cannot recall seeing you at many??? And so your point is, Mark? Folks, keep in mind that Mr. Clancey is the individual who has a conspiracy theory behind the new and VERY well done Facebook page that was written about on the front page ofFlorida Today several days ago! Always consider the source…

        • Bill, try really hard to keep the issues in context, please. You criticized my critique of the City Commission meeting by accusing me, and I quote, of “skewing (AKA slanting) the story to conform to [my] apparent agenda.” In response, I noted that you were not at the the City Commission meeting (not the Board of Adjustment meeting to which you noted that you are a member) and, consequently, you could not comment on whether or not I had skewed anything – you were simply not there when the item was presented. I looked around the room several times and did not see you. If you want to claim that you were present for the entirety of the fire station site plan item, where were you seated in the room?

          You further claim that you were there for a “portion” of the meeting (really, what portion?). You then strained to point out that the meeting was “broadcast live AND is available for viewing any time on the City web site.” Are you now saying that you watched the meeting live or on streaming video? Okay, fine. Precisely which fact or facts did I “skew,” in your opinion.

          Anyone who actually attended the meeting or watched it from home knows that my description of events was accurate, if not in alignment with their own personal political position on the architecture and height variance of the site plan. What’s more, actual attendees or viewers would also know that 1) you were not in attendance, 2) did not speak to the item, and 3) have likely formed your statements above completely on the basis of your dislike for me personally, rather than actual facts.

          In closing, Bill, I would be happy to debate you anytime on the merits of the Fire Station #1 site plan and its severe impact to neighbors on Sunset Drive. The subject is not whether you approve of me personally (I don’t care), or my style of public opposition to specific issues, but the visual impact and potential for precedent of the site plan and its 60 foot variance request.

          Like I said, Mr. Geiger, try to keep it in context.

          • Seeing as only 2 people have apparently read your article, Mark, I have very little care to waste any more time debating it withyou. Perhaps you should re-read my comments: “get out to the meetings so you do not have to hear about them from his (or my) individual points of view..” My point simply is that no one should listen toe EITHER you or I about what takes place at these maatings. The should go to the meetings (or view them live or recorded) so ther are not swayed by slanted representations, be tham yours or mine. Oh, and Mr. Clancey, I am pleased that you find my presence SO intriguing that you seek to confirm my attendance. I’m flattered! However, I recommend you get your glasses perscription checked. I have more improtant things to do…

          • My screen shows 18 Facebook Recommend(s), 1 Twitter and 1 Google+. Plus it was well read on the social media side. Regardless, Bill, who’s wasting who’s time? I didn’t ask for you to write a response to the Cocoa Beach Post article. Nor have I asked for all of your, typically Geiger, personal insults – the latest one being that I should get my prescription on my glasses checked. Maybe you have contact lens or have had Lasik surgery, or maybe you’ve been blessed with wonderful eyesight. I haven’t and prefer glasses over dried out eyeballs.

            Our disagreements on policy, notwithstanding, you really should cease the personal and demeaning attacks. They are typical of an immature speaker who knows he has lost the argument, or who is incapable of articulating reasoned thought that is devoid of hateful invective. You should also consider stating, clearly, your position on the issues, instead of wading in only to personally attack those with whom you disagree. It’s really lame, man.

            Despite your personal insult directed at my wearing glasses, you deflected, again, and did not answer, specifically, if you were present at the City Commission meeting for the Fire Station Site Plan agenda item on which you criticized my commentary as being “slanted.” Were you there for it, or not? Simple question.

            Write me back when we can have an adult debate, Bill. I promise I won’t consider it a waste of my time.

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