Ameen Abdel-Kader says he does not understand the political jargon of "eminent domain," but he may get a lesson in how it's used now [Hallendale Beach] officials threatened to employ that power to acquire the property he is renting.
"Right now I'm confused and scared that this may mean I may lose my way of life," said Abdel-Kader, who runs a convenience store on property city officials want to expand a public park.
For years city officials have been planning a revitalization of Foster Road, in the city's northwest section. The city, through Broward County, purchased several lots next to Foster Park between Sixth and Seventh avenues.
But the city has yet to purchase the building at 636 Foster Road, where Abdel-Kader has operated his store for more than eight years. Officials said they began negotiations with the original owner of the property, Harry Glover Sr., about three years ago. Glover died during negotiations, and the property went to his three children, two of whom live in Hollywood.
But the younger Glovers say they know nothing of such negotiations and don't know whether they want to sell the land.
"There have been city people who have stopped by the store on weekends and holidays, but there have not been negotiations with us that we know of," said Celestine Glover, one of the owners. "I'm not sure I want to sell to the city."
But she may have to, thanks to eminent domain. That is, if city officials decide to take that route. The U.S. Constitution gives local governments the authority through eminent domain to seize private property if it benefits the community as a whole.
Hallandale Beach city commissioners say they will try to negotiate with the property owners first and will use eminent domain as a last resort, they agreed Tuesday. Celestine and Mattie Glover attended a Tuesday morning commission meeting to express their confusion over the process.
City Manager Mike Good explained the city's vision for an area where many have complained of being forgotten. The city included the Glovers' property in their plans at a time when the original owner had agreed to sell it to the city, according to a city memo from Good to Mayor Joy Cooper dated Aug. 30.
Part of the park expansion includes adding a Police Athletic League, which will provide extracurricular activities for children. City officials say the larger park will also allow them to bring programs for seniors here. The property is appraised at $172,800. Broward County has agreed to pay 10 percent more than the appraised value, Good said.
"Residents in that vicinity are frustrated," Cooper said. "It is regretful that it has come to this. But this is for a community benefit."
"This park will brighten up that whole section of the city," Commissioner Dorothy Ross echoed.
But for now, the Glovers and Abdel-Kader remain confused. The Glovers say they are willing to negotiate, but they think the city is bullying them by using the dreaded term they say no property owner wants to hear.
"The land has been in the family since the 1970s. We may want to keep it that way," Mattie said.