Last week’s election tables to determine the Key Biscayne Beach Club board of directors didn’t have the comedic “Seinfeld” effect when “Kramer” ran for president of the legendary condo board. Del Boca Vista.
After all, it took place on April Fools’ night.
But, it also lacked a ‘controversial’ theme, similar to the club’s election process three years ago.
In fact, it all went well, as did all the new upgrades that rejuvenated the look of the iconic club on its 70th anniversary.
When the ballots were counted on Friday evening, five of the nine candidates emerged victorious:
– Mariana Dominguez-Hardie (two-year term)
– Jamie McCaughan-Thompkins (two-year term)
– Manny Rionda (one year)
– Dwight Hewett (current board member will serve one year)
– Frank Andrews (one year)
They will join incumbents Mike Bracken, who was vice president, and Chris Biggers, who served as treasurer.
These seven members will meet at 6 p.m. on April 14 to vote on the four titled officer positions: president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer.
“There’s so much going on, even if you don’t have a title on the board, you’re just as important.” said Biggers. “Everyone has a niche…and we’re working with Paul (Zuccarini, the general manager), who has been great, to bring the projects to fruition.” Zuccarini replaced the club’s longtime manager Mike O’Brien.
Three years ago, a hotly contested election – which suffered some delays due to voting eligibility issues – resulted in just four votes separating the top four elected.
It was also the year of tumult, when some club members and other residents publicly questioned the direction the club was heading. The problem was its appearance, the lack of maintenance and the financial problems resulting from the non-payment of certain dues.
“This (election) was not controversial at all,” Biggers said proudly. “Over the next three years, we completely reversed all of that.”
Poor record keeping over the years has been the main reason why some members have never had to pay dues.
“It was tough,” said Biggers, who had to find ways to straighten out the financial books in her first role as treasurer. “It’s funny, I used to pay my dues every year, but some people hadn’t paid for three years and there was no way to prove it. When we went through all of this, we found over 200 cases over a year in arrears.
The Beach Club’s one-time membership fee will drop from its longstanding requirement of $6,000 to $8,000 on July 1, while annual dues have remained at $695 for the past few years – “Best deal in town”, Biggers said.
Over the past three years, dozens of renovations have taken place at the club, including a new roof, ceiling fans, better lighting, kitchen renovations, hurricane shutters, new electrical conduits, new landscaping and patio furniture. Plus a connection to the Village sewer system.
“Physical appearance did a 180,” said Biggers, who noted there were 600 paying members at the end of 2021; a cap of 625 members will be initiated this year.
Credit for the recent turnaround goes largely to Hewett, club chairman for the past two years, along with Bracken and Biggers, and their four other board members – Jack Macia, Nancy Stoner-Downs, Sixto Campano and Craig Hardie, who chose not to race this time.
“Board members matter,” said Hewett, who will be in his fourth and final year of eligibility. “If you don’t have an engaged board, even with a great manager, you’re doomed. Everyone we had was working cohesively…it was obvious to everyone (what was missing).
Macia, whose family moved to Key Biscayne from Cuba when he was 1, has also noticed a difference in the club’s energy while taking on the role of secretary for the past two years. But he will take a break to focus more on his business career.
“I think it’s good to let more community members get involved,” he said. “It’s good to have more experienced citizens on the board, because you might need them (later). »
The popularity and involvement of members of the Beach Club – which reportedly accepted as many as 876 families from Key Biscayne in 1966 – has rebounded well, as indicated by Friday’s near-doubling of vote totals for the top elected council member. of directors (as against 77 votes when Bracken paved the way for the 2019 elections).
“It’s good to see a lot more people getting involved,” Biggers said.
“I vote every year, and I can’t remember that we ever had so many candidates,” Macia said.
The Beach Club was officially introduced in 1952, albeit on a much smaller scale, as a membership bonus for new home buyers from the builders of early Mackle homes. That year, 250 family members were said to have belonged to the club, and by 1958 some 705 families were included (for more Beach Club history, click here).
Over the years, notable members have included former Miami Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese; the infamous Jack “Murph the Surf” Murphy; and then-President Richard Nixon, who joined his Key Biscayne neighbor Charles “Bebe” Rebozo in 1969. Seven generations of the Vernon family are also on the list, of which the popular pharmacy, Vernon’s, was a an island landmark for many, as well as celebrities such as actor and director Andy Garcia and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi.
Biggers knows a lot about the history of the Beach Club, having “married” there and living here for 38 years. Her husband’s parents were among the founding members in 1952, when the land was full of foothills, but the pavilion and its amenities have become a pleasant way to relax by the beach.
The newest project will come from the Village, which plans to spruce up and widen the overgrown beach access strip between the Beach Club and the Sands condominium with a metal fence that will replace an old chain-link fence and hedge.
In January 2021, a group of teenagers who were never apprehended, started a fire in the Beach Club’s four tiki huts, a crime that Biggers says emanated from “COVID teen boredom.” Once insurance covered most of the costs, the club decided to “do some good while we’re at it,” Biggers said, with two more cabins.
Now, what will the Beach Club’s 70th anniversary bring?
“The council was so focused on getting the repairs done, once we started collecting money (from past dues),” Biggers said, not yet in a position to plan any celebrations.
“But,” she adds, “we plan to have a lot more parties this year.”
Now, that’s something even Cosmo Kramer would vote for.