Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Budget Workshop last night and that blog post first published last Saturday: "Hmmm. What's with the $6 million that was borrowed for the Casino?"

Wow. Where to start? 

The blog post first published last Saturday (see below) caused quite the stir at the City Commission workshop last night. A meeting that should have ended about 8:00 went on past 10:00. 

After discussion about the City's funds it was then all about the failed Casino project. And the pool. And a whole lot of other things the public needs to know. It's a mess.

I was not able to attend the workshop last night on the budget but did catch the last 1½ hour or so live streaming on the City's video feed. When I started watching learned they were talking about the Beach Fund and Commissioner Chris McVoy's head was cradled in his hands. It was a very bad night for him. After last night no one will be holding any grand illusions for the "sound business plan" at the beach. The entire project that started in 2009 is a complete disaster.

How bad is it? I heard Commissioner Ryan Maier say a large billboard might help generate some revenue. And now he wants to talk about concession stands too. I guess the ITN idea wasn't so bad after all, huh?
Remember the ITN? Doesn't sound like such a bad idea any more, does it? Now everyone is scrambling for ways to fix THE BEACH. Maier now wants a billboard and more concessions for revenue. What a SHOCK!
At a certain point (will have to watch the video when it becomes available) Mayor Pam Triolo says to McVoy, "you're inconsistent and disingenuous". And she continued on. She had enough. This entire quote, and video to come, will be one for the ages.

We were reminded by William Waters, the City's Sustainability Dir., that the pool building was under a "condemnation order" when he first came to work for the City. Looking at McVoy he looked like he needed medical care after that one. 

There was talk of closing the pool for good and there might be a glimmer of hope to lease out the second floor. Parking was never supposed to be the main source of revenue at the beach but it is. McVoy wants to raise parking rates. But how many people would stop coming to our beach? No one has any idea. 

Without further ado, the blog post from last Saturday that created all that stir:

Is the loan being paid back? Several payments have already been missed or paid back at a reduced amount. The City was supposed to repay that money at the tune of $500,000 each year. We'll all learn soon how the "Beach Fund" is doing later; see the agenda below. But first enjoy this video of Commissioner Chris McVoy, PhD, back in October 2010 at a debate held at the Lake Worth Playhouse: McVoy said:

"My priorities, if I'm elected, are to make sure our beach project, an excellent project and one that can enhance our city in many ways is completed. I think the time is perfect for it."

If you've been following the latest developments you know the Lake Worth Casino complex is still not complete. Look in the right-hand column for, "Casino debacle finally nearing an end?" or use this link. Here is the agenda for Tuesday's Budget Workshop:

FY 2017 Budget Overview
Burton and Associates modelling of the following funds:
  • Electric Fund
  • Water Fund
  • Local Sewer Fund
  • Regional Fund
  • Beach Fund
  • Other Funds
August 23, 2016: Wrap Up Budget Session All Funds

Did you know the Casino still does not have a Certificate of Occupancy? Were there other plans presented to the Commission back then? Yes. Here is the Greater Bay Site Plan that was rejected by the City without the public having a chance to formally review it:
Note with this site plan the Casino structure is in the center of the property with a new pool to the north and a parking garage. This plan came at a huge cost which is explained below.
Most people are aware there are a multitude of problems at the Casino complex, municipal pool, and beach. However, what people are coming to understand is the basic flaw of the 'new' Casino and the previous structure: THEY WERE BOTH BUILT IN THE WRONG PLACE. As shown in the image above, the plan by Greater Bay was to have the structure in the center of the property along with a parking garage. That way there are no ADA issues, nearly every parking spot is close to the building, and access for emergency vehicles is increased. 

Any normal weekend at the beach and you can clearly see the flaw having the Casino on the north of the property. In addition, were the Casino in the center of the area a new building would have been constructed with pilings. The current building DOES NOT HAVE PILINGS.
McVoy, a PhD, supported constructing the new Casino east of the Coastal Construction Line without pilings.
A clear ocean vista is what one would have seen when cresting the bridge if the Greater Bay plan prevailed. Instead, what you see now is the back of a boxy building. How very charming.

The Greater Bay plan was for the new construction behind the Coastal Construction Control Line. I don't think I need to remind you the City tore down the former building for the NEW casino building that exists today in the same location. The Greater Bay plan also shows a single deck parking area west of the Casino building which would have provided direct access to both levels of the building.

This site plan (see image above) shows a total of 780 parking spaces and a significant amount of green area in the southeastern part of the property. And guess what! The eyesore of a pool building is gone with this site plan. Unfortunately, this planor worthy elements of itwere never allowed to see the light of day in terms of being formally reviewed by the City.

You could say this plan by Greater Bay (which you were never shown) cost the City around $2.5 million$1.6 million in a settlement to Greater Bay and around $900,000 in legal fees defending the City's indefensible position. It also represents a high degree of opportunity costs: We have to deal with a less functional beach property along with the consequences.

Now you can see why elections are so important. Commissioner Chris McVoy may be up for re-election on March 14th, 2017.