Excerpts taken from a booklet prepared by a committee appointed by the Town Council following the regular meeting on March 15th, 1949 to address the residents and property owners' lack of knowledge of the history, political structure and the method of operation of the town.
In the early 1920's, two brothers saw the possibilities of Miami Beach and they could appreciate what Joe Young was starting in Broward County. But they had a different vision. Their dream was not of a large city with hotels and business. Instead, they pictured a small, quiet community along the coast, devoted entirely to family life near enough to the large centers yet far enough away to insure the peace and quiet of suburban life.
They looked around for a such a site and finally purchased a strip of the beach ridge slightly less than a mile long at the extreme northern end of Dade County. With this narrow ridge, not much over a hundred yards wide at its widest part, went the swamp land to the west as far back as the then narrow canal-like passage which later developed into the Inland Waterway.
The two men were R.W. and Henry G. Ralston. The dream town they founded is now Golden Beach. The Ralston brothers and their associates of the "Golden Beach Corporation" spent millions of dollars in cleaning out the mangrove swamps, pumping and hauling in fill to build up the swamps, in forming the three islands and the peninsulas between, in building bridges, laying pipe lines, water mains, underground electrical conduits, and in the building of streets.
By 1928, a few houses had been built. These were scattered along the oceanfront (south of the Loggia), on Center Island and on North Bay Drive near the Center Island bridge. When it looked as if the Corporation, as a company, was no longer interested in caring for the development, the property owners themselves decided to take over.
Under the General Laws of the State of Florida, a township wishing to incorporate must have twenty-five registered voters. By stretching the imagination and inviting some individuals to live in town for a week or so, exactly twenty-five registered voters met at the home of Mr. R.W. Ralston at 8 p.m. on the night of May 19th, 1928.
A motion to incorporate was passed unanimously. At this meeting, William A. Mentzer was elected mayor. Lorraine G. Smith, Thomas Galvin, Jerome Cherbino, R.W. Ralston, and Henry G. Ralston were elected Councilmen. Edna S. Jamieson was elected Town Clerk and W.C. Garwood, Town Marshall.
On May 21st, the Mayor appeared before the Circuit Judge and was sworn in. He, then in turn, gave the oath of office to the Councilmen and Town Marshall. The S.E. room of the residence of R.W. Ralston was designated as the Council Chamber of the town and the third Tuesday of each month was named for the holding of Town Meetings.
At the Organization Meeting, a temporary Code of Laws and Rules of Procedure were adopted, and the Council was organized into the departments as it is today. The Golden Beach Corporation deeded to the new town all parks and public property, including the water distributing system and electric lines. The town operated under the General Laws for one year and four days.
It is interesting to note that, three days after that original election, there were ten residents left in Golden Beach.
The Town of Golden Beach was incorporated under its present status, by a special act of the Legislature of the State of Florida in 1929. The act was approved and Golden Beach became a legalized community on May 23rd, 1929.
This act gave the town a charter which outlines in a broad sense the legal rights of the town and its citizens; it sets up in detail the political structure under which the town can operate, and it defines its rights and privileges. It authorizes the creation of a police force and a judicial system and describes their authority.
In conjunction with this original charter, a "Code of Golden Beach" was adopted. This code amplifies the charter in giving more in detail the duties and the authority of the town officers. It sets up a code of law, listing and giving allowable punishments for many misdemeanors; and in general, providing a "book of rules" by which the town is governed.
Naturally, as time went on, conditions in a growing community necessitated changes or additions. These are incorporated in a series of Ordinances, passed according to law by the Town Council.
These three documents:
"The Charter of the Town of Golden Beach"
"The Code of the Town of Golden Beach"
"The Ordinances of the Town of Golden Beach"
contain all of the laws and regulations by which our town is governed.
The charter can be altered or amended at any time by an act of the State Legislature. So far this has never been done. The Code can be altered or amended by the passing of an Ordinance by the Town Council.
The Charter contains thirty-eight typewritten, legal sized pages. The Code comprises seventy-three sections or twenty-two of the same sized pages. The Ordinances are the most voluminous [one of them, setting up a building code fills fifty-five typed pages].
As much of the Charter deals with conditions that do not at present [and probably never will] exist in Golden Beach, and a good portion of the Code and Ordinances are more or less technical, only excerpts which will be of interest to residents will be printed in this pamphlet.
Copies of all of the above mentioned documents will be on file at the new Town Hall and can be examined there by any resident interested.