Saturday, May 16, 2009

Yesterday's Business Workshop, put on by the CRA...

The group at the beginning of the day - a great turn-out!

Adrian Salee, SCORE Business Counselor - gave pointers on preparing a business plan and stressed it's importance. Key message: A small business is not an extension of you; it's its own entity.

Laurence Davenport, Executive Director - Business Load Fund - specializing in smaller loans that are otherwise not "bankable" - or where physical access to credit sources is a problem.

Blurry picture of Bob Phoenix, the city of Lake Worth's new Chief Building Official, talking about the Certificate of Use program and business tax receipts.

I had the pleasure to be the Master of Ceremonies for this event. It kicked off National Small Business week. Lots of great information and an array of speakers from the Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Center, etc. One of the programs identified was the SBA's HUB (Historically Underutilized Business) Zone program - where you can register and get preferential treatment with the issuance of government contracts. Click here and you can see the sections of Lake Worth that are considered "HUB" zones. The Small Business Development Center is a free service and is housed at Palm Beach Community College - they even have a mobile assistance center (the RV was parked outside the golfcourse clubhouse during the day). They can help you get certified as a registered federal government contractor. Events will continue throughout the next week. Check with the Greater Lake Worth Chamber of Commerce for more information.

Ms. Stanton's City Manager Report - Week ended May 15th

EDITORIAL: Growth-management bill a disaster

Agreed...bad legislation. Click above for PB Post article.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Slideshow from Today's Historic Lake WorthTour - Florida Trust for Historic Preservation

Here's a small slide show from the tour I gave as part of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation Tour of some of our historic attributes. We stopped at the Lakeside Castle, drove around some of our historic neighborhoods, went to the city's museum and ended up at the Lake Worth Playhouse. These people are historic preservationists from around the state of Florida that select different locations each year for their conference. Palm Beach County was selected this year to honor its Centennial.

Check out the Lake Worth Herald today...

...article on the front page about my comments related to the Treasure Coast Transit Master Plan made at this week's CRA meeting.

This is one way a community can celebrate its historic resources...

But to do it takes commitment and adequate staff to administer the program without taking away from other priorities. We looked at this while I was on the PZHRB here - staff resources were a concern (and they still are). There is also the possibility of perceived favoritism, etc. which can detract from the overall purpose of a program like this. Seeing that this is the 4th Annual, they must have found a way around these issues.

Historic Preservation Board Recognizes Preservation of City's Historic Properties This year marks the 4th Annual Historic Preservation Board (HPB) Awards Ceremony. The Historic Preservation Board acknowledges property owners and their design teams whose recent projects have significantly contributed to the preservation & rehabilitation of historic properties throughout the City or provided compatible new development within a historic district. The Board introduced a new award category, the "Preserve Delray Award", honoring property owners who continually preserve their significant piece of Delray Beach history. This award complements the City's recent designation as a Preserve America Community.

Winners of the prestigious HPB awards were recognized at the May 5, 2009 regular City Commission meeting and have been listed by category:

120 North Swinton Avenue (Old School Square Historic District)
Boueri Engineering; Rabih and Shannon Boueri, Property Owners
MacLaren Signs, Sign Designer

212 Seabreeze Avenue, Sewell C. Biggs House (Individually Designated Site)
Virginia Courtenay, Property Owner
Currie, Sowards, Aguila Architects, Architect

238 SE 7th Avenue (Marina Historic District)
Daniel & Anita Dietrich, Property Owners
Eliopoulos Architecture, Inc., Architect
Delray Garden Center, Landscaping

120 North Swinton Avenue (Old School Square Historic District)
Rabih and Shannon Boueri, Property Owners
Randall Stofft Architects, Architect
A. Grant Thornbrough & Associates, Landscape Architect
Boueri Engineering, Engineers

Ethel Sterling Williams History Learning Center (aka "Hunt House")
5 NE 1st Street, Delray Beach Historical Society (Old School Square Historic District)
Delray Beach Historical Society
Bridges, Marsh, and Associates, Inc., Architect
Morning Thunder Construction, General Contractor

Marine Villas
110 Marine Way
Margaret "Peg" Bowen, Property Owner

Business Development Workshop - 5/15 - 8:30 a.m.

The City of Lake Worth, in conjunction with the Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency, the Lake Worth Chamber of Commerce and the Lake Worth Resource Center invites the general Public to a free professional Business Development Workshop at the Lake Worth Municipal Golf Course Clubhouse (One 7th Avenue North) this Friday, May 15, 2009. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.
The comprehensive workshop is designed to assist local businesses expand their opportunities and Survive the economic slowdown. Representatives from the Counselors to America's Small Business (SCORE), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and the Office of Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), the Business Loan Fund of the Palm Beaches, the Lake Worth Building Department, The Greater Lake Worth Chamber and City of Lake Worth will be giving lectures and answering Questions. The Mobile Business Assistance Center (MAC) vehicle will be available at the event in the Morning and in the downtown area, in the afternoon, to provide additional information and resources.
For more information, contact the Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency at 561-493-2550 or via email at Seating is limited.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

CRA Meeting - 5/12

Things got a little "testy" last night at the CRA meeting. It was pretty much business-as-usual for all the items on the agenda - if you have a question about anyone of them (agenda is in previous post) let me know and I can catch you up on them - either on here or through an e-mail. The item that created the most controversy was a grant application for Phil Spinelli and the Rum Shack.

The application was for money that is for facade improvements to commercial properties in the CRA district. It is based on a 50/50 match - with a maximum award being $20,000 of CRA money. If the grant is awarded, the applicant proceeds with the project and submits receipts for the completed work and is then (only then) reimbursed. This is a program that has been around for many years and has helped improve the appearance of buildings in the downtown area and along our major commercial corridor - Dixie Hwy. Mr. Spinelli's application was for paint and repair of the exterior of the building, new awnings, new front door, alley improvements etc. Refer to the previous post on the 5/12 CRA meeting - there is a link to the back-up information if you'd like to check it out.

The board asked the usual questions, looking for more detail regarding what was proposed, the bids, what can be done about flooding in the adjacent lot, etc. My question was, since more than half of the $43K project was painting related, what the CRA's record has been in approving projects that were primarily painting of buildings. The answer came back that there have been many over the years that were mostly painting. I also brought up that it would be a good idea to for to two funding cycles per budget year. That way we could rank various projects against one-another, rather than just be looking at one project and making a funding decision that way.

Time for public comment came up. Here I would encourage you to listen on line once the audio file is up so that you can hear it for yourself. Mrs. McNamara gets up and talks about how Mr. Spinelli has been on the Planning and Zoning Board for 15 years and insinuated that this was some sort of inside deal between the CRA and a member of the Planning Board. She also said that Lake Avenue is not a blighted area and money shouldn't be spent there. Mr. McNamara got up saying that this represented "gorging at the public trough", questioned the bids as being high base on his experience with painting and the grant shouldn't be approved.

Again, I urge you to go the audio file once it's posted since I was not taking verbatim notes and that would be the most accurate record of what actually was said. This became an issue later on between Ms. Materio and Mr. McNamara.

Then Commissioner Jennings, who was sitting in the back of the room and was in and out during the entire meeting, came up and said that there needs to be a "needs" test (she might have said "means") to these applications. That we are going to go through severe budget cuts and that we need to treat money carefully and make sure it's going to the most worthy projects. She didn't think this met that test and urged us to deny it and "change the process for this application" if we needed to.

I thought Ms. Materio - CRA board member - was going to leap off the dais after those comments and she expressed her outrage at the suggestion that somehow this was a backroom deal and that this is a volunteer board that devotes a lot of time to the review of these grants and to be accused of that is an insult. Again, I am paraphrasing here - please refer to the audio. Commissioner Jennings thought that she wasn't being treated with respect, from her seat in the back of the room. You really must hear the exchange for yourself.

After Ms. Materio finished, I said - calmly - that it would be unfair to change the rules for only this applicant and that the board had talked about going to a funding cycle approach that could consider projects' merits against the merits of other projects. Doing so would allow us to consider need and other factors.

Motion to approve the application was made by Mr. Grimm and seconded by Mr. Marcinkowski and the vote was unanimous.

AP NewsBreak: Fla. CFO Sink to run for governor

Today's City Commission Agendas are now of 11:34 a.m.

Click title for link to city website and back-up information.

Check this out - click for link to Municipal Webcast service - looks doable

Two City Commission meetings today that you may only find out about here...

There are no agendas posted for these meetings. The one at 5:30 has been scheduled for a while. The one at 5 just appeared. There is a change in the second meeting - part of it was going to be on the Snook Islands project, now it's about the beach - hmmmm.

National Small Business Week Events in Lake Worth

The City of Lake Worth, in conjunction with the Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency, the Lake Worth Chamber of Commerce and the Lake Worth Resource Center invites the general Public to a free professional Business Development Workshop at the Lake Worth Municipal Golf Course Clubhouse (One 7th Avenue North) this Friday, May 15, 2009. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.

The comprehensive workshop is designed to assist local businesses expand their opportunities and Survive the economic slowdown. Representatives from the Counselors to America's Small Business (SCORE), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and the Office of Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), the Business Loan Fund of the Palm Beaches, the Lake Worth Building Department, The Greater Lake Worth Chamber and City of Lake Worth will be giving lectures and answering Questions. The Mobile Business Assistance Center (MAC) vehicle will be available at the event in the Morning and in the downtown area, in the afternoon, to provide additional information and resources.

For more information, contact the Lake Worth Community Redevelopment Agency at 561-493-2550 or via email at Seating is limited.

The Lake Worth Resource Center (1121 Lucerne Avenue) will host an Emerging Entrepreneur Workshop Targeted for anyone interested in starting a business, or has an existing business and needs help. This Workshop will be available in English and Spanish.

Thursday, May 21st 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 Noon
How to Get Up and Running - Diana Delhumeau, Certified Business Analyst

For more information on this workshop, contact the Lake Worth Mentoring Center at 561-366-9440 or via email at

Additional Workshops will be held at the Greater Lake Worth Chamber of Commerce (501 Lake Avenue).
Monday, May 18 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
How to Get Free Press for Your Business - Phil Scruton, Small Business Development Center

Tuesday, May 19 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 Noon
Bidding on Government Contracts - Mike Bell, Small Business Development Center

Wednesday, May 20th 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Quickbooks Overview/Tutorial - Ted Deret, Deret Financial

Friday, May 22nd 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Marketing Your Business in a Tough Economy - Greta Schulz, Proactive Training

For more information on the additional workshops hosted by the Chamber of Commerce,
Contact 561-582-4401 or via email at Reservations are required.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lake Mead Is Drying Up

Water levels are falling in America’s largest reservoir. If it dries up, so could power and water for much of the Southwest. Click title for link to article.

E-Mail conversation with Fred Bloetscher, P.E. on water supply issues in South Florida...

Mr. Bloetscher:

A friend of mine heard you speak last month at the Florida Bar "Hot Topics" course in Ft. Lauderdale. He said that you had a lot to say about reverse osmosis. I live in Lake Worth and we are about to embark (again - long story) on a reverse osmosis plant. I have always thought that our answers to the water situation in S. Florida will be solved regionally and not by each individual municipality (there are 38 in Palm Beach County.)

Any light you could shed on this topic would be appreciated.

Thanks for your time.

Wes Blackman, AICP

HI Wes
Long story indeed, and more than just RO issues for Lake Worth. There are two schools of thought on the water supply issue. The first is regional utilities. This works really well for wastewater for two reasons: There is an economy of cost savings with larger facilities. Second, the cost for wastewater disposal is enormous - deep wells at $6 million/well, outfalls that are not permittable, or reuse which potentially contaminates the groundwater and/or negatively impacts rising sea levels, or indirect potable reuse (which requires reverse osmosis - more later). And back-up disposal is always required, so it is hard to do locally. Permit costs are large, and monitoring is significant. But once you have a disposal option chosen, infrastructure it is easily extended.
Water treatment has the same economy of scale issue associated with it, but unless reverse osmosis is pursued, none of the disposal issues. However, what we are seeing in south Florida is that the extraction has become more difficult. Large regional well fields have been disrupted b the SFWMD and are no longer likely to get permitted unless they are indirect potable reuse projects (i.e. you are withdrawing treated wastewater for your raw water supply). Smaller, local well fields remain viable which is where many utilities are looking. The other options - the Floridan is deeper, salty aquifer, but it does not recharge locally, so large withdrawals will likely cause the water to degrade (get saltier) with time. Salty water means reverse osmosis (and a deep well for the concentrate) which is energy intensive. Same with desalination of seawater which is really expensive from a power perspective. All of which means that reverse osmosis is expensive to pursue. Lower pressure systems are better, but...
From a regional perspective, reverse osmosis - one of the SFWMD's options, is expensive. It is a power consumer and FPL will need to increase power capacity to deal with RO plants all over the SE coast. And there will need to be more deep wells. And the water will degrade, which means higher pressures, reinvestment in RO, and more power use. Vicious cycle. The SFWMD next option is reuse of wastewater, but to use it for raw waters supplies requires the same RO process, plus retreatment at the water plant. This costs money also, but the water quality will not degrade with time in the aquifer since the aquifer is a water table aquifer and gets a lot of rain. But the costs for the plant and operations remain. Not currently on the power grid. And to recharge the aquifer you need land, and must not flood property owners, which means that low lying areas cannot pursue this options. Coastal areas cannot either for flooding reasons. And if sea level rises, there will be no place to store the excess either. Reuse long term does not work in the coastal areas. My presentation suggested that the SFWMD look at regional RO plants to recharge the Everglades which is also the recharge area for the Biscayne aquifer (lower zone). That would solve a regional problem, and while energy costs would increase, there might be some economy of scale that would help out with costs. IT also would put water into the Everglades which will be needed for sea level and water quality purposes over the long term (50-100 years). The SFWMD is not interested in seriously evaluating this option. So that brings us back to local issues for water supply.
Lake Worth has the issue that the SFWMD wants to shut down your Biscayne water supplies (their third option), and make you buy water form someone else. That option is limited to buying water from the County. That satisfies one of the SFWMD goals to regionalize, but the County is then burdened with the responsibility to get more water, which means they now do the RO plant and wells, since they will not be able to draw more Biscayne water either. So the issue with water is that regionally the issue of water supply just gets transferred from utility to utility, not solved. Someone has to make the investments in the new wells and new plant (or expand existing ones if they can).
Lake Worth was in a very positive position with its proposed RO plant when you were trying to permit the outfall for disposal of concentrate (vs. the $6 million deep well). Note I was involved with that at the end for the City. That option made sense since your flows are so small and the infrastructure was in place (no permits for digging through the reefs), but a complete lack of wanting to understand how the outfall worked physically just overrode the City's goals, which creates a much bigger problem for the City. If the City were to buy water from the County, the reason would be to save money. The County will recoup the cost of capital (plant + wells + disposal). They also will have added operating costs they will pass on to the City. So, the City would only save money on their side if they can cut costs - which means power, chemicals and staff. Therefore it would not save a lot of money unless the City did away with the existing treatment plant all together, since you cannot decrease staffing at the plant (operator staffing requirements by law). So the City needs to ask - do we want to be in the water business?

What this points out is that where there is investment in infrastructure, the issue is less clear. Existing utilities are examples. Where there is no water plant, regional solutions work a lot better since there is not invested cost and more regional decisions can be made, with those costs passed directly to the consumers.
Does that help?


Yes, it helps. However, Lake Worth is now in a position where the majority of the commission wants to back out of the water deal with the County and has already reneged on a $6 million promised payment that was part of the agreement. We are now pursuing a smaller RO plant than the one originally proposed, which would rely ultimately on permitting of deep well injection. A question mark - much like the situation we were in with the existing ocean outfall. There is now a two to three or more year gap between having the water supply we need and the RO plant coming on line. The Commission is talking about hooking into the West Palm Beach water supply - which is also under restrictions and a court order regarding water quality. The Commission thinks that it could tap into it or the County system on an "emergency basis" - which could be up to two years, a few months at a time. Given that we have want to back out of the contract before the ink is really dry, the County is not going to want to help us even on an emergency basis. We are also asking for forbearances from the County on other matters. SFWMD has changed the way they measure our use of water to average monthly from average yearly. There could be some months and periods when there is nothing - period. The Commission's answer is conservation measures (extreme) and rain barrels.

I am attaching an op-ed piece (click title for link) I did for the Lake Worth Herald around the time when the first RO plant bit the dust. You can tell I am an urban planner and not an engineer, but all along I thought that the initial RO plant, like you, was the best idea.

Hi Wes
A deep well is $6 milllion - negotiate a price with Youngquist Bros in Fort Myers to drill it(the only driller in the State that has been successful at this - it's waht they do. They have no failures - 88-0). DO NOT BID IT like Key LArgo tried to do and after 6 months, they ended up with Youngquist and a higher price than they could have negotiated.
A deep well should be pretty straightforward to permit. There are dozens of them in SE Florida and only one known issue - which was a problem creatd during construction. They do not leak like the wells in Pinellas Co do and the movement appears to go westward, not toward the ocean. The injection zone is 3000 ft below the surface and both the UM and EPA risk assessments both determined that deep wells posed less risk to people as a disposal option than outfalls (which were a close second) and surface discharges. Note I was a major part of the UM study and provided most ot fhte data for the EPA study). Reuse would likely be the riskiest but it was not included. There is peer reviewed work and real experts to support this position.

It's Lychee Season!

These are pictures of a tree near my house in College Park. Unfortunately, I don't have any on my property. There is another tree across the street that is about a week or two behind that is much larger. Last year, the house on the property with the bigger tree had it's roof replaced while the lychees were ripe and, guess what. All the workers helped themselves to the tree's bounty. I happen to love lychees. If you have a tree, or know someone who does, and you or they don't like them, I know that someone would be interested picking their crop. :)

Green 'Czar' Pushes Jobs, Community-Building

Click title for link for NPR story.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lake Worth's Iron Curtain: Its own website?

Yes, Scarlet, there is a CRA meeting tomorrow night, although you wouldn't know it by looking on the meetings and events calendar on the city's website. In order to find it out, you would have to look under Volunteer Boards, then go to the CRA agendas and click on May 12 - deeply buried and difficult to find. If you go to the CRA's website, you are directed to the Volunteer Board area of the City's website.

Below is the agenda for tomorrow night's meeting. You may be interested in attending.

What's more interesting is what the people are thinking that don't want you to know there is a meeting. I've provided a link to the full back-up by clicking the title of this post.

Announcement from City: Lake Worth's 5th Annual Hurricane Seminar - 5/14

Lake Worth's 5TH Annual Hurricane Seminar will be held this Thursday, May 14, 2009 the Lake Worth Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, located at 2000 North D Street. The program begins at 7:00 p.m.

In addition to guest speaker WPTV Chief Meteorologist Steve Weagle, staff representatives from Lake Worth's Utilities, Public Services, Fire and Building departments will provide information on debris pickup, electric utility outage management, and outreach efforts as well as information on how to join Lake Worth's CERT team. Attendees will also hear from the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. Residents and business owners alike will learn how the City is ready to meet the citizenry's needs during times of emergency.

Lake Worth resident Kevin Addison has organized vendor exhibits and door prizes to be distributed through a raffle to event attendees.

For further information, contact Kevin Addison at 561-585-5313.

Simple Gifts - A Shaker Hymn

Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come out right.

'Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
'Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,,
And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,
Then we'll all live together and we'll all learn to say,


'Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
'Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of "me",
And when we hear what others really think and really feel,
Then we'll all live together with a love that is real.