Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Compass in Downtown Lake Worth

This is what was e-mailed from me to the Commissioners prior to the 10/17 Commission meeting (six months ago) - I am re-posting here and now in advance of the Commission meeting tonight.:

Dear Mayor, Commissioners and City Manager:

I offer this in support of negotiating a lease with Compass to use the current Senior Center. A new Senior Center is being readied by Palm Beach County and is planned to open in the Fall of 2007. This will leave this City facility vacant.

Compass is a mature social service organization that serves a significant portion of Lake Worth residents. Tony Plakas of HomeRule Strategies, LLC has done a great job outlining the strengths of the organization and the services provided. I'd like to take a moment and highlight the benefits of such a move:
  • Compass would establish a use for the building that is consistent with the original intent of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974.
  • People using the services and support that Compass provides would create another destination and attraction for people to come to our downtown area - adding to the City's vitality. Using the building as just another set of City offices would not have the same effect. Compass also has many evening activities as well as providing educational and cultural events for the Lake Worth community.
  • Resources, staff, volunteers will provide a ready supply of materials and support during times of hurricanes - all can be called upon to render needed help when the situation arises.
  • Meeting spaces for public and private entities would be available.
  • Compass is self-supporting and not reliant upon City funding. They have the resources to maintain the building and grounds in an appropriate manner.
  • Compass' funding sources bring "other" money into the Lake Worth economy. It serves as a portal for all sorts of other governmental and private resources and programs for those in need.
  • It is consistent with the Master Plan direction in this area of the City and will likely be near future mass transit opportunities when passenger mass transit service is established on the FEC railroad. It is already on Dixie Hwy. and Palm Tran's most utilized route.
Reserving this existing building for City offices would be ill-advised and represent a short term "make-do" measure. Compass is ready to go and start a campaign to raise capital for a new facility. The time to act is now.

Let's do our best to make Compass feel at home and welcomed in the City of Lake Worth.


Wes Blackman