Spotlight email 240515 Chess club

In the Spotlight,

  • Student Chess at the Barracuda
  • New Questions for Regatta Harbour
  • Walking in Coconut Grove Can Be Dangerous. Who is Paying Attention?

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Early morning chess club in Coconut Grove challenges students to make their best move, learn from their losses, and play well with pawns.

by Jenny Jacoby

Cuda Club Chess – 6 year-old Dante Ramirez reacts to a move. (Patrick Farrell for the Spotlight)

Twice a week, the pink picnic tables outside Barracuda Taphouse and Grill are cleared of beer pitchers and college kids to make space for chess boards and elementary school students. 

Cuda Club, as the students proudly call themselves, is Coconut Grove Elementary’s up-and-coming chess team committed to bringing together chess-lovers across the community while fostering the next generation of chess masters. 

“It’s a great thing for our school, for our community, and the parents and volunteers that have made it happen,” parent Ann Eubanks said. 

The club of first to fifth-graders and their parents meet every Tuesday and Thursday an hour before school starts to practice their chess skills, from pawn structures to endgames, in preparation for tournaments. 

“It’s a wonderful thing for all the kids, to see that light bulbs turn on and the sparkle in their eyes, smile on their faces, and the banter in the morning where everything is activated before school starts,” said Ben Glatzer, a parent with two kids in Cuda Club. 

The club began at the start of the 2023-2024 school year after a tumultuous run of chess clubs at Coconut Grove Elementary. Prior to COVID-19, CGE had a chess club called the Chess Knights.

Local residents ask how an historic structure turned into a painted billboard. Miami officials are mum on possible irregularities.

by David Villano

Historic hangar at Dinner Key with a vibrant mural promoting 'The Messi Experience,' an interactive attraction dedicated to soccer star Lionel Messi
The historic hangar at Dinner Key, built in 1931, now features a colorful mural for ‘The Messi Experience,’ an interactive multisensory attraction centered around soccer star Lionel Messi.

Joyce Nelson remembers the day in 1994 when, after months of intense grassroots lobbying, City of Miami officials agreed to restore Coconut Grove’s historic waterfront buildings – some already listed on the National Register of Historic Places – that housed the seaplanes that once connected Dinner Key to Havana and points south.

“It was a hell of a fight, but we won,” recalled Nelson, the veteran Grove activist who spearheaded the effort culminating in a City Commission resolution to restore the giant steel-frame hangars and lease them to a marine operator, helping to preserve the character of Coconut Grove’s working waterfront.

But upon a recent visit to the site, Nelson says the fight may be far from over.

“What a shock, I just couldn’t believe it,” she says, pointing to the south hangar, a 20,000 square-foot aluminum-clad structure now painted in a kaleidoscope of violet, blue and green, beckoning visitors to “an interactive multisensory experience” focused on the Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi. Tickets are $45.90. 

“This is an historic structure,” she adds with dismay. “How can they get away with this?” 

It’s a question that others are asking.

“How could this happen?” asks Julie O’Dell, a member of the City of Miami Historic and Environmental Preservation (HEP) Board. 

“A paint job like this would certainty need a certificate of appropriateness,” she says, referencing the City’s administrative review and approval process for structures with historic preservation status.

Fellow HEP Board member Denise Galvez Turros agrees. “It’s kind of funny that this could be going on just steps from City Hall, right under everyone’s eyes.”

Concern about the safety of pedestrians has been brewing for a long time. Recent incidents highlight risk of crossing a street.

by Hank Sanchez-Resnik

Pedestrians crossing South Bayshore Drive in Coconut Grove, highlighting safety concerns in the area
Residents of Coconut Grove navigate the busy South Bayshore Drive, underscoring ongoing concerns about pedestrian safety in the community.

People often say they want to live in Coconut Grove because it’s such a great place for walking. Lately, they may be having second thoughts. 

Concern about the safety of pedestrians in Coconut Grove has been brewing for a long time, but recent incidents have highlighted the risk of just crossing a street. 

Now, after years of complaining, concerned residents are beginning to see some hints of progress. County officials were planning this week to convene a community meeting to address the issue of pedestrian safety. Residents say they are hopeful the issue will finally get the attention it deserves.  

The source of the problem is no mystery. 

“The Grove’s major streets are serving as a pass-through,” says Coconut Grove’s police commander, Daniel Kerr. “The drivers aren’t stopping. They’re in a hurry to go through the Grove to get somewhere else.”

The result: Pedestrians wanting to cross streets like Main Highway and South Bayshore Drive, even in crosswalks, feel threatened and unsafe.

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