Wednesday, May 24, 2017

“The Lake Worth Corridor”. A lesson for the press, media, and for others who care about the facts: Municipal borders in Central PBC.

How much do you know about the “Lake Worth Corridor”? Where is it? What is it? And why it’s so important to understand this “Corridor” west of our City to the border of Greenacres and this area’s impact on your daily life here in this City.

Yes, very true. The unincorporated area called the Lake Worth Corridor can be very confusing, even for long-time residents of Central Palm Beach County and self-described experts too who talk about local governments and how they interact. However, for reporters like Charlie Keegan and Julius Whigham II, for example, it’s not confusing in the least where the “Corridor” is. But more about that later.

The great benefit coming out of the recent debate over a baseball stadium in John Prince Park is all the focus this unincorporated area in our County received, especially from our County and local elected officials. And many in the public learned this: John Prince Park and the nearby “Lake Worth” College Campus are not in our City. But! They are both on the City of Lake Worth’s Electric Utility grid.*

Many societal problems (e.g., crime, homelessness, vagrancy) and other issues that arise from the Lake Worth Corridor (area explained in detail below, including maps) have a negative effect on our local cities and towns — but one city in particular is mostly immune — they built a very big wall around their city in 1959, or “back in the day” as they say, when there was a migration west from the City of Lake Worth. But I digress.

As the City of Lake Worth continues the process of re-branding itself it’s crucially important the public and press understand well what IS Lake Worth and what IS NOT Lake Worth. For a very long time the City was burdened with false crime reports and other tragedies in suburban Lake Worth, outside the City’s municipal limits.

One of the best examples, not crime-related, was that terrible plane crash back in 2015. If you recall, that plane crash was in suburban Lake Worth (right next to Palm Springs) and the only one to get the incident location correct was Charlie Keegan at NBC5/WPTV.

Nearly everyone else in the media got it wrong — including most of the local reporters — reporting the plane crash happened “in Lake Worth”. And, frankly, there are still some in the media and press that probably still believe it happened in our City.

Here is what will be addressed in this blog post:
  • The City of Lake Worth.
  • Very briefly, unincorporated areas of Palm Beach County (U-PBC) west of the City extending all the way to the Everglades, called “Suburban Lake Worth”.
  • And drum roll please. . . the unincorporated Lake Worth Corridor between our City and the City of Greenacres.
First a little background. Depending on what criteria you use, PBC is either the largest or second largest county east of the Mississippi River. It’s massive. As Florida developed cities were formed in the County and over time municipalities (now 39 total) were “incorporated”, annexing unincorporated land(s) from the County. To this day the process continues with cities annexing more land, sometimes very small parcels, even a few acres.

For reasons I won’t get into now, a problematic area in Central PBC never fully got incorporated and remained U-PBC. One of those areas was unfortunately named the Lake Worth Corridor. Here is a map of that area from several years ago (the map will be different today):

An image from Google Maps with labels added. Note Lake Worth is east of the Lake Worth Corridor. Over time bordering cities have been annexing land from the “Corridor”.

For some perspective, below is an image showing where that tragic plane crash occurred in U-PBC, aptly and correctly referred to as Suburban Lake Worth:

The areas in white are U-PBC and the Lake Worth Corridor. For reference, note the Great Walled City of Atlantis and Greenacres in relation to the City of Lake Worth.

Oddly enough, the Lake Worth Drive-In on Lake Worth Road, near that crash location is located in the City of Palm Springs. The area in the map above shows how over the years cities such as Greenacres and Palm Springs have annexed land over time. Lake Worth has also annexed land, but mostly east of the I-4 (Keller) Canal. 

This news story from CBS12/WPEC back then showed how much education was needed in understanding municipal borders and U-PBC. I’m not picking out CBS12 for any particular reason, there are many examples how the media gets it wrong, for some of them it’s a chronic problem.

Now back to the Lake Worth Corridor. This area in U-PBC has been the focus of many efforts by the County, one of which was the Urban Redevelopment Area: Planning Study and Corridor Master Plan in 2009. Here is part of the Introduction:

Please note. This is a very good summary on the history of this area west of our City of Lake Worth. Click on image to enlarge:
This “geographic area” is the Lake Worth Corridor. For many years now this area has been a vexing issue for County, city, and town officials, and still is to this day.

Note the words, “to illustrate opportunities and obstacles for that redevelopment, and provide recommendations and priorities for implementing that vision.” Would you agree that part of the problem is so many people are confused about WHAT geographic area is being addressed? 

The City of Lake Worth has a unique character that is well chronicled over the City’s 100+ years of existence. We’re very much different than the sprawling communities out west and we’re proud of that; well, most of us are. 

Hopefully the residents and media in Central PBC will come to a more complete understanding of unincorporated County areas and the “Corridor” and not just take the easy way out and call everything in suburban Lake Worth “near Lake Worth” or refer to these areas in other incorrect and misleading ways. It’s more complicated than that and the public deserves better.

Simply put: You are either in the City of Lake Worth OR you are not.

How can you figure this out? Here is how you do it. It’s not magic and only takes a few moments. If you’re someone in the media or the press give someone like Charlie Keegan a call or contact Julius Whigham II at the Post. They’ll tell you the same thing. It’s not magic.

*Use this link to see the Lake Worth Electric Utility Service Map. To learn more about our Electric Utility use this link.