Wilton Manors commissioners bounced around several proposals in the city’s ongoing negotiations with the local chapter of Kiwanis International, a club of volunteers who work together to improve the community.

Discussions resumed at Tuesday evening’s regular meeting with Kiwanis requesting a scholarship program in the amount of $350,000 over a seven-year period. In exchange for the scholarships, Kiwanis would gift its riverside property to the city.

“Here is a piece of property that is offered to us for less than half of what is going to sell for in the marketplace and I’m just baffled that it’s not more open-armed on this commission,” Mayor Scott Newton said as he opened the discussion.

Sal Torre, president of the Westside Association of Wilton Manors, cautioned the commission to look out for “surprises lurking around the corner.”

“This is an aging facility,” Torre said. “There’s not been many upgrades for some time. The cost of bringing the facility up to current code and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance can and will be costly.”

The clubhouse, built in 1959, is assessed at $207,890. The property’s overall just market value is $415,970. The inside is dated, Torre said, with repairs needed to make the space desirable for rentals.

Club President David Platz said dwindling membership has forced the service organization to the bargaining table. Platz said the club has received higher offers than what it is willing to agree upon with the city.

“We want to work with the city and be a partner with the city and have that money go to the scholarships,” Platz told the commission.

Organized with Broward College, the scholarships would allow the club to create a legacy while improving the lives of local children.

“Kiwanis Club is very aware of the value of that property and one of their goals and it always has been is to provide for children within this community,” said City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson.

Commissioner Gary Resnick said the city is expected to increase employees’ pay by $400,00 to $500,000 making the Kiwanis deal a longshot by his calculations.

“As much as I loved to acquire your property I just don’t think we can afford it,” Resnick said.

Platz agreed to allow another city inspector on-site to take a look at the air conditioning and electrical system, sea wall, roof and plumbing. Commissioner Mike Bracchi said when the latest inspection is completed, the city would have a more accurate picture of what work needs to be done. Bracchi also asked for no deed restrictions in the deal.

Platz told the Gazette the club pulls in $24,000 annually in rentals, “without really trying.” That figure is nearly half the annual payment the city would make under the current proposal. Kiwanis would also keep access to the building for meetings twice a month.

“We’ve been at this for over a year now,” Platz said. “We’ve bent over backward willing to work with them. Either do it or don’t.”

The Gazette launched a Wilton Manors focused newsletter. Sign up today! You can also visit Facebook.com/groups/WMGazette to join the Gazette’s community Facebook page.


Opinion | Kiwanis Club Property Might be the 'Deal of the Century' But it's Not a Good Deal for Wilton Manors