The first post-summer meeting of the Hollywood Hills Civic Association was well attended and exciting, with guest speakers that went beyond the usual über-local topics.
“Our goal is to provide our residents and members with lots of relevant information to help improve their quality of life through our monthly meetings and our newsletter,” said Pam Burgio, president of the group, which encompasses the area from Sheridan to Washington Streets, from Park Road to 56th Avenue.
But first, the basics. After the bagels and pizza, and the pledge of allegiance, came the welcome and welcome back and announcements from Burgio; membership requests along with invitations to upcoming events from board member and Special Events Director Mardi Podesta; and the accounting report from treasurer Beverly Chatterson.
Next up was Hollywood Police Department West Side Supervisor Sergeant Pablo Vanegas, who announced that the current Hollywood Hills Neighborhood Team Leader had been promoted and introduced the area’s new NTL, Officer William Hammacher.
Officer Hammacher took the stage and gave his first report. There have been, he said, a handful of car break-ins, and no one, especially this writer, was surprised to hear that in every case, the cars were unlocked. “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” as the French say. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
There was also one car stolen, he reported, and in that case, the vehicle was actually locked; but, he added, the key was in the car!
He noted that an arrest had been made in the case of a home burglary, and that it was connected with previous burglaries in the area. He could not speak further on this as the investigation is ongoing.
Once again, he reminded the group to lock their cars and not leave valuables inside and visible. The attendees welcomed Officer Hammacher, along with several other officers who were visiting the meeting from their headquarters up the street.
Following Officer Hammacher was Code Compliance Officer Herrick Rowan, standing in for Anthony Albano, who is also moving on to another position in the city. Officer Rowan reported that there were 116 code violations written in Hollywood Hills in the last month, with 12 going on to the Special Magistrate (court) and three to Liens (those who did not respond to court dates or judgments). He said that most violations had to do with overgrowth of trees into streets and alleys, and he urged everyone to be responsive and to “Please trim your trees”.
“We like to live in a beautiful area, and we all have to do our part,” agreed Burgio. “I use the Help Me Hollywood app, and sorry if I tattle on you, but I will if I have to!”
Business-as-usual out of the way, the next speaker was Dawn Fifield, a long-time volunteer with the Broward County Humane Society, and her dog Sherlock. Fifield gave an impassioned presentation about the Society, and discussed how they operate from both sides — taking in animals and adopting them out — plus the additional services they provide.
After Fifield, Hollywood Vice Mayor Traci Callari, looking beautiful despite having been in session all day with the Hollywood City Commission. Callari gave an informative report of the day’s events, lauding the Hollywood Hills group as the initiators of one of the conversations.
“We have a situation in District 3 in Hollywood Hills, where there was no public middle school, and we had people leaving the area because of it,” she noted. “And it was this Civic Association which spearheaded our addressing this concern a few years ago.
“Today, after much discussion, we came up with three viable options to address it:
- Make Hollywood Hills High School into a grade 6 – 12 School
- Make Hollywood Central Elementary into a K – 8 school, which would then feed into South Broward High, or
- Turn Bethune Elementary in Liberia into a K – 8 school and combine it with the adjacent Attucks Middle School, which is now a Choice School.
“We’re going to present all three to the school board and let them decide which is the best for the city of Hollywood. All of these are opportunities to better our public schools and provide more options to keep students in our own public school system; to grow our community and make it stronger,” she continued.
“I want to commend this group and tell you to keep being the squeaky wheel! Keep asking. If there’s a problem, you have to be the squeaky wheel, but with respect. It can take a while but you can get results, especially if you can suggest a solution along with presenting the problem.”
The last speaker, another out-of-the-ordinary guest, was Erica Lychak, Communication and Outreach Manager of the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization, who presented “Commitment 2045”, the county’s long-range effort towards making it more effective, efficient and affordable to get people where they need to be in Broward.
“To get this done, we have to be planning from now to 2045,” said Lychak, illustrating her point with a slide show showing population growth in the county.
“Quite frankly, we’ve run out of space,” she said, “and now we have three goals in mind as we develop this plan: To move goods and people, to create jobs, and to strengthen communities.
“We need to re-create and redesign the existing transportation system to get us to the point where it’s quicker and more attractive for you to take a bus than it is to get in your car.”
Said board member and Special Events Director Podesta:
“After a lovely break for the summer, we are pleased to be back at work. We had a great turnout tonight and we are looking forward to all the exciting meetings we have planned for the rest of 2019.
“2020 also looks to be a busy year for the HHCA,” she continued,” and we hope that Hollywood Hills residents come join the HHCA as we work together to maintain our neighborhood and our city.”
For more information, call (786) 405-9942 or email: [email protected]