Friday, February 10, 2017

The pool is shut down at our Beach. Likely never to re-open. Why? Because in 2010–2012, “. . . it appears some corners were cut.”

Photo of Lake Worth Casino complex and pool by Skyline Aerials. Our pool always looks so lovely and charming—from 200′ away.

Now it’s time to move forward with a robust debate: “Engaging Youth to Create Community Places”. If we want a City pool where should it be? Somewhere with more public access? And the biggest question of all, “How did we get here?”

In 2010–2012 there was plenty of money to fix the pool. But “corners were cut” because the 2nd floor of the ‘new’ Casino building at the Lake Worth Beach was supposed to be much smaller than it is. Having the 2nd floor covering 100% of the ground floor added 33% to the project size.

With a $6 million budget that created major deficiencies, less quality and functionality, e.g., rainwater leaking under the doors on the 2nd floor.

The 2nd floor space above Mulligan’s was supposed to be an upscale restaurant “with a killer view”. Five years later it’s still vacant. Why? Can you see the sandbags?

You see, as more money got pushed to fund the Casino structure there was less and less money for the pool. The pool, locker rooms, bathrooms, and pump building were ignored or under-maintained.

Photo. 2012. Casino grand opening: 

Commissioner Chris McVoy, PhD (blue shirt), was one of those elected’s who ignored the problems at the pool while “corners were cut” in 2010–2012. McVoy was first elected in 2010. He’s up for re-election on March 14th.

There are many self-described “experts” who claim to know everything there is to know about Lake Worth’s municipal pool at the Beach. In early 2015 a lot of them packed the City Commission chambers; a now-defunct and silly “newspaper” back then had a story about what happened, or more accurately, a twisted version of what occurred:

“Look at other pools that have made it work and emulate them.” The Hall of Fame Aquatic Complex in Ft. Lauderdale? Where would you fit this monstrosity at our Beach:

After Lake Worth residents saw this artist rendering there was never talk again about the Hall of Fame pools (note the plural).

On March 7th when the news first broke about the pool being shut down again (this is the second time recently) and the increasing number of problems, it’s important to remember we’re well into election season as well.

Undoubtedly, some will try to take advantage of this: Commissioner McVoy, PhD, is up for re-election on March 14th. And knowing the Post editorial board is almost certain to endorse McVoy, this would seem a perfect opportunity to show how smart and “on top of things” he is.

But there’s a big problem with that. In a Post editorial dated June 29th, 2016, the editor(s) wrote this:

     Trouble has dogged this project for years. The goal was to transform a peeling 1950s-era concrete building, erected after a devastating 1947 hurricane, back to the casino’s [sic, “casino” should be capitalized] original 1920s-era Mediterranean Revival glory. (Gambling ended there in the 1930s.)
     But while tearing down walls to the skeleton, the builders found more damage than expected. The construction estimate soared to $8 million, but the city had only $6 million of borrowed money to spend. To make ends meet, it appears some corners were cut.

“. . . some corners were cut.”? You ain’t kidding.

The pool could have been upgraded and modernized back in 2011, or even 2012, but there wasn’t any money left over. All the money was spent on the Casino building instead: an overpriced and under-functioning structure:
  • The original Request for Proposal (RFP) was a “remodel” of a 2nd floor ballroom covering one-half (50%) of the ground floor (shops and John G’s restaurant [now in Manalapan]).
  • There was no commission approval to expand the RFP scope to include a 2nd floor covering 100% of the ground floor (shops and restaurant).
  • Adding 33% to the project size within the $6 million budget was unrealistic and created major deficiencies: quality and functionality.
And also, ironically, there was another plan back then the public never got to see. A plan that actually took a pool into consideration: the Greater Bay plan:

The Greater Bay plan was for the Casino in the center of the Beach property (note the traffic patterns), a new pool to the north, with a parking garage. This plan ended up costing the City a $1.6M settlement. The public never saw this plan.

In another ironic twist, the very same people who didn’t care a whit about the pool suddenly became big fans in 2012. One of those sudden cheerleaders was The Obtuse Blogger (TOB):

Image from the file, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

What changed so suddenly in 2012 that so many people became such big fans of the pool again? The new City Commission majority took over: Mayor Pam Triolo, Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell, and Commissioner Andy Amoroso.

In 2012 following those City elections, according to TOB et al, the pool had to stay open no matter what the cost. Interestingly, TOB and many of her supporters have never taken the time to visit the pool for an aerobics class or even a lap swim. Their “Love” of the pool has it’s limits you see—primarily political—nothing to do with swimming or exercise.

The majority that took over in 2012 remains the majority today. And who remains on the Commission today? Chris McVoy, PhD: He could have done something to fix the pool back in 2010–2012. But he didn’t.

Remember all the “experts” who lined up at the City Commission back in 2015 referenced earlier? Here is one of those ideas:

“Contact Men’s Health Magazine and unabashedly lobby for a spot on America’s Top Ten Fittest Cities.”, and. . . “When that publicity kicks in, just answer the phones and check the mail.”

Here is another idea that was actually quite a good one to “emulate”: the Wellington Aquatics Complex:

“In order to meet competitive standards . . . a larger 10,000 square foot structure that includes concession stands, showers, restrooms, a weight room, and classrooms for first aid, CPR and lifeguard courses.”

In conclusion: Commissioner McVoy has a PhD. He reminds people all the time about that.

Question: How much has that diploma on the wall from Cornell University helped our City of Lake Worth? Think long and hard about that before you cast your vote on March 14th.


Anonymous said...

In discussion the grass area behind the Casino would be handicapped parking & dropoff. Storage for ballroom events too. Great idea so that was nixed right out of the gate. The second floor would have the same size ballroom in the center surrounded by open space for parties, movie nights during season, party rental etc. Because it was such a great idea that was nixed too. Soon all the people left were the most dim witted & unimaginative. McVoy had some real good ideas like a water cistern for landscaping. When push came to shove he caved and went along. Scientific method and renewable policies got tossed for expediency. He wanted a solar component too. Another good idea. That one got nixed too. After a while everybody threw up their hands & told the construction company to get it over with & build the damn thing so they did. Another great idea was to have a city rep monitoring it all. That got nixed too.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. If the pool is well and truly dead, could the space it presently occupies be used to build a parking area for the commercial vehicles that service the casino complex? I'd rather have the pool but...

Anonymous said...

To many residents of Lake Worth the pool is a source for families to escape the heat during the summer as well as senior citizens and seasonal visitors to use during the winter months. I hope the city can come up with a plan for a short term fix until all the neccasary issues to bring it up to date can be addressed. I am proud of our beach area and the pool is not something that is the norm in beach communities. To turn it into parking would be something we would regret in my opinion. Even if some of us don't use the pool, it is an asset to many residents.