City of West Melbourne, Florida – Democracy or What???

July 6, 2009 at 18:29 | Posted in Amore di Italia | 3 Comments
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This is one of the most difficult posts to write and as I write, I am in tears. I am shaken to the core to realize that my city government of West Melbourne, Florida could be as callous and undemocratic as it is. Unless one considers the needs of everyone else come before the needs of a homeowner and taxpayer, unless one considers the financial well being of one is unimportant in respect to what the city sees as fair to everyone else. I am making this post in hopes of sharing enough information that others can be forewarned and not face the heartache, disillusionment, and financial ruin that West Melbourne, Florida has “blessed” me with.

My home originally before mess can be seen here – 

Front Yard Before This Started

Front Yard Before This Started

 As many of my loyal readers know, bonnieshusband is permanently disabled. We are not wealthy people. I have worked since he was disabled and like many folks, we planned on the equity in our home to be our retirement base. As with most others we have seen that value decrease due to the housing bubble but we had purchased twelve years ago and did enough improvements that we still felt safe and comfortable with the amount of equity we had realized. This home spanning almost 2700 sq. ft. with pool and originally nice landcaping was market value of over $200,000, a moderate but decent home for us and the area. When we purchased our home we did our research. I had been raised in the construction and real estate business and worked in the field also. The first rule of real estate is location, followed by rule #2 of location, closely followed by rule #3 of location. We knew an easement existed on our side and rear yards for drainage and utilities, something almost every subdivision in this area also has. To the very edge of the property line, clearly visible even in the current Google maps photos there shows a telephone pole with small electric panel box. This was to power a sewer pump underground in the road – visible as a small manhole cover in the road. There was also a small cover in-ground on neighbor’s easement, also visible in the photos. Grass for the most part hid that one. We were told before we agreed to purchase the house that the electric box and pole would be ‘going away’ when the city reworked the system – and all would go under-ground. This was something all of the neighbors then were also told. Based on that information we bought the house. The city for some reason did not use earmarked funds to do the project so it was delayed for several years. In March of this year the surveyors arrived and marked utility lines and well point marks (we were later told that was what the wood stakes were for). Note the photo of the wood stake up against our front window area – it is still there as of tonight and turned out to be where they planned on drilling a well-point. However as a building inspector pointed out, drawing water off so close to the foundation would probably compromise the foundation! Ya think???

Well Point Stake Against House

Well Point Stake Against House

    Next ensued a visit by myself to city hall of West Melbourne, FL to ‘invite’ city officials to actually visit their intended job site. We along with neighbors were informed that obviously they would need to ‘redesign’ the project but that we “were inconveniencing the rest of the neighborhood” and that we should realize how “unfair we were to not do this for the betterment” of our neighbors and the city. Gee – I’m so sorry! I guess if they had given us a Notice of Intent up front or knocked on the door when the pros visited the job site to work on the plans, we might have been able to show them the large cement structure that had been sitting there for thirty years! Well they did the redesign – except they forgot to note the driveways to the houses so they had to go back to the drawing boards again! Professionalism at its finest so far? Their ultimate solution was to now position all of the lift station in the right of way of the roadway. Of course it ended up also in front of my front windows.

My House Now

My House Now

 As the West Melbourne, Fl City Attorney explains it, that is their legal right to position anything such as this anywhere they have a right of way, i.e.: road or easement! So beware – you may be equally blessed, especially if you live in West Melbourne, Fl with one of these in the road directly in front of your front door or windows too! Worse yet, the constant refrain has been that none of them would have bought a house with a sewer in front of it either. Interestingly neither did I per se – but the City Attorney of West Melbourne had also stated it was the city’s prerogative to build this in any road way right of way. 

Hole In Side Front

Hole In Side Front New View Of Front Yard

I have reminded everyone that as a taxpayer I do not expect to be talked to condescendingly as they work for me, a taxpayer and citizen. No one else pays my mortgage or taxes, so this is more than merely inconvenient for me! They have robbed me of my financial security and peace of mind. My faith in our government being there to serve and protect is obviously destroyed! Most municipalities although having the same rights, do not abuse them in such a cavalier manner. Rather they work in an effort to bolster, not destroy property values. Our complaints are also a part of the City Council Records as we have been attending the West Melbourne, Fl meetings. 

Thanks West Melbourne Florida for the Beautification Project

Thanks West Melbourne Florida for the Beautification Project

Interestingly most of the Council went on record agreeing with us but it  means nothing but a “Gee, we’re sorry” and no recourse otherwise. This has been a rude awakening. I was raised to believe that one’s town government as well as the federal government were there to serve and protect its citizens. Obviously this is not the policy or general belief of the town of West Melbourne, Florida. I thought this was a great place to raise a family and retire – now I am sure it is not! Any company thinking of relocating here should do so cautiously or they will find corporate property values could be played with and certainly the employees would be taking a huge risk to purchase a home in a place that cares so little about them. No consideration was given to our family’s rights or needs. It may in fact mean my future is ruined, but I would never want to see anyone else go through this type of  heartbreak at the hands of another town the way West Melbourne, Florida has treated us! By the way – our yard is still dug up and a mud hole, our mailbox was relocated down the street, the road is also still dug up. We’ve been promised some flowers around the lift station and they’re going to paint the electric boxes, too. Aren’t we lucky??? 

West Melbourne, Florida at its Best???

West Melbourne, Florida at its Best???

Sapore di Italia

March 31, 2009 at 16:59 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Fun Reminders of Italy, Itri, Italy | 1 Comment
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This weekend we were mightily blessed as the guests of special friends. (Yes, Annette – you are a very special friend) With a hectic work schedule for me, babysitting for grandbabies as needed, and planning for our vacation, free time is rather difficult and precious. So it was tremendous joy to be invited to dinner with our friends. As they are always fun to be with, we anticipated we would once again have an enjoyable evening. And of course, we did! Stepping into their home is to feel at home! Their lovely home is a slice of Italy right here in Florida – and their warm welcomes and fabulous meals are lovingly shared in true Italian style. Our host grilled the main course to perfection while we chatted around the table. That began a sumptuous dinner of tomato salad, fried zucchinis, roasted potatoes, steaks,, delightful wine, homemade stuffed breads (Annette I need your recipes!) that were a meal in themselves – a dinner to rival any four or five star restaurant! Desert was an assortment of Italian pasties with steaming cups of espresso and frosted glasses of limoncello!

But it is the good conversation, the exchange of stories, laughter, and family that makes this the beautiful home it is! Talk of home, family, and of course Itri, and again the evening turns into the wee hours! Especially as we plan our meeting together in about 3 weeks in Itri! Their trip will have them turn southward to visit family while ours will take us northward to Milano but it is the anticipation of time together in Itri that excites us all. For it is Itri that is always central in everything we know now – a beginning, a middle, and an end to our plans and hopes and dreams – it is home!

Thanks Annette and Frank for your hospitality and friendship – a wonderful example of why we so love Itri – GRAZIE MILLE – BUON VIAGGIO!

Master of Lists…or ?

March 26, 2009 at 16:49 | Posted in Bits and Pieces | Leave a comment
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I am the original authoress of lists – seriously – I must have invented the concept – or at least I perfected it (?) – I certainly have managed to take it to a new art form. I will grab a scrap of paper and write a list anytime anywhere. Speaking of scraps of paper, I never met one I did not like so I am also very good at saving scraps of paper – old envelope backs are wonderful, cut bottoms off partially used papers, turn over misprint pages, etc. Anyway, once more in my life I digress. I love to write lists.

I find myself rewriting these lists to consolidate and re-date them. There is comfort in seeing all my bills listed in neat (or not so neat) rows, tallied at the bottom. To the side paychecks are listed and subtracted. Sort of like a budget maybe? (he he) Or how about long lists of tasks to be done, things to not forget to do. It seems at time my time is so over-scheduled, it is easy to forget to do something. Did I remember to write down sleep on any of this week’s lists? An agenda list is nice to have. Then there are those long time lists, the goals, the things I would like to accomplish in my life. And places to visit. My favorites places folder on my PC is FULL of those lists. Everything neatly categorized – until I try to find something I know I read somewhere once before – sigh.

But these lists are not an obsession. I can survive for days without thinking about one and I certainly do not obsess when I lose one or do not have paper at hand to write one down. There is no stress in not making or reading lists. It is just a de-stresser for me when I do have a list to cross off as I go along. A safety valve of sorts to be sure I have not forgotten something when I am so busy all of the time to take enough time to not forget something. Phew. Anyway no stress about it as I go along crossing off my lists if something is undone — well, let me qualify that. There is some stress on the bill thingy part – unpaid bills are stressful, especially if not paid because I forgot them or forgot to cross them off the list (we are NOT going to talk unpaid because I ran out of money first – THAT is beyond stressful and worthy of its own blog). Usually within a few days all items are crossed off of one list and it is crumbled and tossed or shredded. Soon another list is started on another scrap of paper. Sometimes months later I will find an old list in a book or in an unused purse. It is fun then to see what was finished, what was accomplished, what is still undone (that bedroom floor comes to mind here).

I often wonder now if blogging isn’t just another form of lists? An extension of writing lists as we try to make sense of life around us or a hobby, a passion? A list like a blog is a tool to organize our thoughts.  Pleasure and relaxation can become objects of guilt if we are neglecting those other pesky necessary details of life. If we cross off enough of those, do we earn free time, me time? Or is it the me time that gives me the impetus to cross off more of the obligations times?

So it is the same with blogging for me. It allows me to sort and list, to organize, to cut through all the little details, to find the nugget at the center. And it becomes the ultimate list of myself – here and now – and the travel back to family long ago as I do research. It is a comparison list of now against then as I use it to guide me forward and backward towards family and myself.

Good Food, Good Wine, Great Friends!

March 4, 2009 at 11:26 | Posted in Itri, Italy | Leave a comment
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This weekend we invited friends over for dinner. The house was cleaned, wood laid in the fireplace in anticipation of chilly weather, table was set with Italian linens and dishes.  The house smelled of fresh baked bread. Wine sat chilling, ready to be served. Meatballs and sausage were simmering in the big pot. Olives, cheese, and a big platter of antipasto were served to hold us over until the pasta finished on the stove.

Our friends share a love of Itri with us that goes beyond simple explanations. I am not sure it is even possible to explain to anyone what it is about this town that instills the love and pride it does. A simple dinner can last for hours as we sit and chat about Itri – how it was and how it is now. Even as it catches up with the world today, Itri retains a part of its roots and beauty that makes it a special place. It is still a town where everyone walks every day. Folks sit on the benches to chat or sip espresso outside the bars at tables set on the sidewalks. It seems everyone knows everyone else by name – or at least knows who the other person is. And newcomers are welcomed after a day or two as one of their own! After all, you were seen yesterday and you are still here. They know that  Itri is now part of your heart so they welcome you knowing you will always return here as if returning to your own home!

There is an enclave of transplanted Itranians in Cranston, Rhode Island who feel the same way. Every year in July they  gather to pay homage to their patron saint Madonna della Civita. Friends and family all return to Cranston to celebrate the festival that lasts over several days. Everyone meets for huge picnics, family dinners, or to listen to music at the neighborhood gazebo. And the old-timers share tales of the festas held in Itri and laugh and cry as they remember and dream of returning at least once more to their home. The younger generation listen and they too dream of Itri. Even though they might never have visited Itri, they dream of the day they too finally go to Itri – some with their older generation – and others go in honor of those who dreamt but could not go themselves. So it is with those of us who now feel as if Itri is our home too – even if only in our hearts. We sit and talk of common events, places, people — and we dream for the opportunity of another trip there. And we dream of someday calling Itri home for real. So we talk, we plan, we dream.  And nothing is sweeter than to share that dream with good friends!

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