Thursday, June 16, 2016

Part 1: Jeff Perlman's thoughts about the City of Lake Worth

This is the first blog post about the talk given by Jeff Perlman in Lake Worth on Tuesday, June 14th. Check back for more over the next few days. If you're interested, Perlman wrote a book titled, "Adventures in Local Politics" and the profits from the book go to the charity Dare 2 Be Great.

A group of Lake Worth residents joined Perlman in downtown Lake Worth and he talked about his time in Delray Beach as a community leader, journalist, a commissioner and then the mayor. The theme that ran through the entire talk was how important it is to forge your own City identity. One of the things stressed during Delray's visioning process was not becoming another high-rise community like Boca just like many of us in Lake Worth do not want to be a clone of Delray Beach or any other city.

He stressed that for a city's vision to work people have to see tangible results. If nothing happens they lose their trust in the leaders and the process as well. Most cities veer off the path when there is opposition and there will be resistance. And city's also have to deal with unplanned things such as hurricanes, economic cycles, and other societal events so flexibility is also key.

When he was first elected to the city commission after going through the visioning process in Delray Beach he looked at the budget and started asking questions, "Well, where's all this money for neighborhoods that we talked about as part of our visioning process?", and he was told that money was not budgeted. What he discovered was a disconnect between the staff and the elected leaders. Delray's 'vision' wasn't reflected in the budget nor were the priorities of the community.

He noted how crucial it was to have help from outside resources such as the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council to facilitate the process. Another point he stressed was the importance of an inventory of city assets.

He noted many similarities between Delray Beach and Lake Worth in the scale of buildings, beach access, both city's have a deep sense of history and are also very open to artists, designers, and others who like to experiment and try new things.

Lastly, on a personal note, never once was it suggested or proposed that Lake Worth follow in the steps of Delray Beach. Even though the two city's are close geographically they're very different in many ways. Everyone appreciated what Perlman had to say from a man with so much experience making a "vision" happen. And here is more good advice from Perlman:
"What it takes for an elected official to succeed"
To be continued.