The Dice House just seems to be the right fit for one of the community’s busiest people.
“It’s beginning to feel like a second home,” laughs Holly White, president of two homeowner associations that cover most of East Kendall residents living in planned communities.
Whether rallying “the troops” for a zoning cause or planning a Christmas party for Continental Park kids, you are bound to find this retired Miami Springs teacher chairing a meeting or helping host a social at the area’s oldest restored residence, once the home of its first mayor and now a Continental Park activity shelter.
An East Kendall resident for 36 years, White began her “growing up years” on Key Biscayne during the 1950s when the Mackles first developed the “Island Paradise,” then later moved to a Continental Park home just in back of the Kenwood Elementary School, where she raised her three daughters.
She easily recalls sending Jennifer, now 44; Cynthia, 42, and Suzanna, 41, off to school in one of southwest Dade’s oldest elementary schools, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2003.
“Actually, when it was proposed that Kenwood Elementary expand, I became active for the first time in neighborhood issues,” explained White, first elected 11 years ago as president of the Continental Park Homeowners Association, serving about 800 residents.
She also serves as president of the East Kendall Homeowner Organization (EKHO) representing dozens of HOAs east of SW 117th Avenue that account for literally thousands of home and condominium owners between US 1 and SW 117th Avenue.
While she’s practically a lifelong Floridian, White is Texas-born “native” of Borger, located in the Lone Star state’s Panhandle.
“Most folks come to Florida from north to south,” she chuckled. “We came west to east because like so many, my dad worked in shipyards during World War II, and my parents moved where the ships were being built.
“On route by car from the West Coast to Florida, my folks stopped in Texas for birth of their oldest daughter — me. Never returned there and have remained in Florida to this day.
“Actually, we first lived in an apartment off SW Eighth Street that, historically, had a shady reputation — a house that’s still there.
“Our family moved to the Key when it was barely developed, moved into a new Mackle home on Woodcrest, three bedrooms and one bath, no air conditioning. We walked to Cape Florida Lighthouse, seeing no one. We even lit bonfires on the beach in those days, and took our dogs with us, too.”
After moving to the mainland, she attended Coral Gables High School.
Today, the historic Dice House is her “favorite place — a jewel in our midst,” she exclaimed. “Many areas of the county are not so fortunate to have a place like it.”
In its heyday nearly a century ago, the old home no doubt crackled with similar political overtones as residence of Kendall’s first mayor, David Brantley Dice, owner-operator of a “Kendall Feed and Supply” store that adjoined the pinewood home, near the old Florida East Coast railroad tracks only a block from US 1 at SW 98th Street.
Today, White spearheads protests that vary from downsizing planned mid-rise or high-rise expansions of condominiums planned in East Kendall as well as forays by Florida Power and Light Company to erect a new transmission line on 110-foot high concrete pillars along SW 77th Avenue neighborhood streets.
“We really like to work with developers and the county to resolve differences,” White maintains. “But things often go too far, like the fight to keep low-rise condos from becoming midrise buildings next to the Palmetto [Expressway], or putting a supermarket into Greenery Mall that would so impact traffic, security and residential homes.”
Now retired from school teaching for two years, White has twin goals in her efforts to protect overdevelopment of East Kendall’s residential areas:
“Some changes need to be made on SW 77th Avenue,” she stated. “There’s zoning in place that I feel needs to be permanently changed to scale down any further mid-rise type of development,” as sought by a recent zoning application for an eight-story residence.
“As for FPL putting those 60-foot poles on residential streets, I think the executives ought to be ashamed to keeping asking us for alternative ideas — after all, they’re the power company. Who are we to come up with solutions for them?” she demanded. Newsletters and announcements went out on White’s East Kendall network in mid- October to warn about a deadline imposed for solutions by Jan. 15.
According to a Pinecrest Council member, two communities already have hired consultants to work out alternative proposals, an action made necessary (she heatedly declared) “because FPL isn’t doing the job on behalf of its own interests by making its own profit source — its customers — pay for solutions to their problems, in addition to a monthly electricity bill,” she charged.