Monday, January 23, 2017

The Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (TCRPC) and remember the topic of mangroves along Lake Worth’s Intracoastal?

Too often the TCRPC, a crucially important and vital organization, is used as a stage by some at public comment to get false and very misleading information “into the record” about the City of Lake Worth, e.g., the mangroves along our Intracoastal. More on that below. 

Last Friday, January 20th, was the meeting of the TCRPC. The next meeting is on February 17th. Below is an interesting item from last January’s agenda. If the topic of Everglades restoration is of interest to you there was this item up for discussion, “Update on the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan by Lieutenant Colonel Reynolds, Army Corps of Engineers”:

Council has requested regular updates on implementation of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). The CERP provides a framework and guide to restore, protect, and preserve south Florida’s natural ecosystem while improving water supplies and maintaining flood protection. [emphasis added]

[and. . .]

Council staff has invited the Corps [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] to make a presentation related to the current status of CERP projects. Staff has also requested an update on current projects or studies underway to increase surface water storage around Lake Okeechobee, specifically the Western Everglades Restoration Project, the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Study, and the nearly completed Kissimmee River Restoration Project.

To learn more about the crucial role of the TCRPC use this link. Lake Worth Commissioner Ryan Maier is the City’s liaison to this crucial board.* Several times the public comment portion of council meetings has been used as a stage for providing false and misleading information about Lake Worth.

For example, below is public comment† made at the TCRPC last year by Drew Martin (click on image to enlarge):

These minutes from the TCRPC include completely false and “moderately correct” information.

In the comments made by Drew Martin is a moderately correct statement and a completely false statement. First, correcting the absolutely false statement by Martin: The City of Lake Worth DID NOT remove any mangroves from along golf course shoreline. The mangrove removal was done by the County using a County permit.

Next about the City of Lake Worth stopping a “600-foot planting of mangroves along Bryant Park”. This planting was addressed during the County’s “Living Shoreline” project. When it was proposed to plant mangroves along the seawall. Neighborhood groups and others objected because it would obstruct the view of the Intracoastal by those who reside near the park and visitors as well.

Aerial view of Lake Worth municipal golf course, 1973. Note “gaps” along shoreline for a view of the Intracoastal waterway.

Now back to the golf course: The mangroves were removed because they were planted in the wrong place by volunteers. Along the golf course “windows” or “gaps” are needed for the public to see the water and enjoy the view. Why have a golf course next to the Intracoastal if you can’t see the water? Defeats the purpose of having a golf course with a “view of the water” does it not?

Commissioner Maier’s role as liaison is to make sure the TCRPC has accurate information about what is happening in Lake Worth and also to report, accurately, what happens at these meetings when he gives his update at the City Commission meeting. He’s had several opportunities to correct the record vis-à-vis the mangroves but he’s chosen not to do so.

*Commissioner Maier is not seeking re-election. A new liaison to the TCRPC will be chosen following the elections next March by the City Commission.
You can see this for yourself using this link to the minutes of the TCRPC. Scroll down to the February 5th, 2016, meeting and click on “Minutes”. The comments appear on page 20.