Bobby R. Henry, Sr.
After surrounding the walls of Troy for ten years, the Greeks constructed a beautiful giant, hollow wooden horse, covertly filled it with armed soldiers, and offered it to the Trojans as a gift for the goddess Athena, and the Trojans took the horse inside the city’s walls. That night, the Greek soldiers sneaked out of the belly of the horse, torched and took the city over. A Trojan horse is thus anything that appears to be innocent but, once received, has influence to wipe out or terminate—for example,…
Some want to save our historic “blighted” community by demolishing our buildings and replacing them with ones that will make Fort Lauderdale’s Historic Sistrunk Community lose its authentic cultural character.
One of the endangered buildings in the Sistrunk Community is The Mizell Center located on the site that encompasses a portion of the historic Provident Hospital.
The building is named after Dr. Von D. Mizell, one of the physicians along with Dr. James Sistrunk, who founded Provident Hospital.
Provident Hospital was the facility for Blacks when Fort Lauderdale’s Broward General Hospital would not provide medical treatment to its Black residents.
The hospital was later transformed and repurposed to be the community’s non-profit hub and meeting place for various community organizations and events. This building has double historic value as it has served as a prominent and necessary structure in the community through two generations of its residents. Unfortunately the facility has been neglected and although money has been set aside to restore it, it is now under consideration to be torn down to allow the YMCA, which also has a neglected facility in the community, to rebuild on the Mizell Center site.
The City Commission adopted by unanimous vote a resolution to accept the Urban Land Institute TAP Report to create a socially and economically vibrant Sistrunk Boulevard Corridor at the October 6, 2015 commission meeting. This was done almost two years ago, yet not one of the key recommendations for the CRA to convene a capital summit to increase access to capital for redevelopment has been enacted.
There is no opposition for redevelopment; the opposition is to what the redevelopment should look like.
The majority of the community would like the YMCA to rebuild their facility at the location they currently own, which is in the heart of a community that has supported it from its inception.
It is true that from the looks of it, very little money has gone into the upkeep and enhancement of the current facility over the years, and yet the use of the facility has its loyal senior citizen members and is growing.
We asked the questions:
*What funds raised from the annual MLK Breakfast are spent on the LA Lee Branch YMCA?
*Was not this event started by the local branch for raising funds – why did corporate take it over?
*What programs has the YMCA had for children over the past 25 years (excluding any programs that were started in the last two years)?
*Do we want our children and seniors from the neighborhood trying to cross Sistrunk Blvd – or would it be safer to keep the facility nestled within the community?
If zoning issues are of concern for rebuilding on current site – the community can support the YMCA with requesting a zoning variance – zoning variances are granted all the time.
The community wants unity, fair play, and a seat at the table before plans are made to have our history erased.
Why should the city allow a private organization to tear down our historic structure for a $1.00 a year?
What will the YMCA do with the land they own if they relocate?
What other requests or proposals for use of the Mizell building has the CRA and/or city staff received.
Why were plans to advance this project made with a very small body for community input?
What happen to the proposal for the YMCA being placed on the grounds of Holiday Park? Why do we need two new YMCA facilities – one on the east side of the tracks and one on the west side built at the same time? Is this to insure that the two communities remain segregated? This was the impetus for the LA Lee YMCA to be built in the first place.
The community has come together, to get answers to these pressing questions. These issues should have been addressed answered, and brought to the community before any promises or decisions were made.
We understand that we do have recourse available of all levels from all governmental departments and we want to be ensured of their availability for the betterment of our community. We understand “business”; however, we will not accept “getting the business” from anyone…not leaders, clergy, city government, affiliates, or developers who appear to blatantly disregard and circumvent the desires of our community.
We encourage as many people as possible to email every elected official at the city to let your voices be heard — either way.
It has always appeared to be about the money, either the lack of it or the improper use of it when it comes to the Historic Sistrunk Corridor. If we follow the money, who will benefit from the YMCA moving to Sistrunk – certainly not the community!!
If you are willing to take an active role in the preservation of our historic community to include the treasured Mizell edifice, please email your city officials:
Mayor John P. “Jack” Seiler
Vice Mayor District 2 Commissioner Dean J. Trantalis
District 1 Commissioner – Bruce G. Roberts
District 3 Commissioner – Robert L. McKinzie
District 4 Commissioner – Romney Rogers
City Manager – Lee R. Feldman