Tuesday, May 23, 2017

With the pool closed, opportunities going forward. By the way, did you know the Casino is operating on a temporary CO after all these years?

The closed pool is a positive. It’s a way forward to fix many vexing problems.

The fundamental question is: Does our City need a pool at the Beach? Who benefits?

Or build a community pool somewhere else in our City for everyone to have access?

The City Commission Work Session is tonight at 6:00 to deal with some of the issues at the Beach:
Presentation by Kimley Horn regarding the condition of the pool
Hope springs eternal and I’m confident 2017 will be the year to put most of the issues at the Beach to rest, like the issues with the 2nd floor of the Casino, discussion about what to do with the crumbling municipal pool, parking, traffic, handicapped access, and the list goes on.

Although the Beach is owned by the City it really is, as Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell called it, a “regional beach. In other words, since our Beach and Casino complex are losing so much money every year, City taxpayers are in effect subsidizing the Beach for visitors, tourists, and others around Palm Beach County.

Or put another way: the City was subsidizing the now-closed pool for people who live in nearby condo communities and high-rises, with pools too small, to use for lap swimming or for their guests and family to use while on vacation. 

What’s different now is the City Commission seems determined to tackle these problems head on. I’m told one of the electeds at the Budget Workshop on March 9th uttered the phrase “complete overhaul” when referring to the Casino/pool complex. 

Did you know the Casino is still operating on a temporary Certificate of Occupancy (CO) after all these years? Would that be called a “permanent temporary” CO? The structure has still not been LEED certified (a State requirement) and to this day the seawall has never been properly inspected.

However, the biggest glaring problem will not be solved for a very long time. Why? Because the fundamental problem is the Casino is in the wrong place. Instead of being in the center of the Beach property it occupies the far northern part. But did you know there was once a solution to this problem? There was.

The public was never given the chance to see another plan:
Remember the Greater Bay site plan? A Casino structure in the center of the property with a parking garage and a new pool. This plan was never presented to the public for consideration. The City later had to settle a lawsuit for $1.6 million.

It’s this $1.6M that’s never mentioned when the cost of this whole boondoggle back in 2010–2012 is added up. Yes, that’s right. That’s on top of the $6M loan the City of Lake Worth took from the Water Fund to construct the “renovated” Casino, a loan that can’t be paid back.

Now that the pool is shut down let’s consider other options for that space. A way for the City to make money and be more convenient for the visiting public: construct a parking garage with easy, convenient access to the Casino.

First understand, what you’ll read and see in the photos below is not the fault of Benny’s on the Beach, Fire Rescue, truck drivers, a trucking company, or any retail establishment/restaurant at our Casino and Beach Complex.

The closing of the City’s municipal pool adds another whole dimension to these issues. In a bad way? No. Actually the pool being closed may be one of the solutions to all these problems created by a prior administration back in 2010. Below is one of many examples of very poor planning when the ‘newly renovated’ Casino was constructed. Here is the problem:

While having lunch at Benny’s an emergency vehicle responded to a call at the Beach.
This emergency vehicle impeded one lane of traffic and meanwhile. . .
. . . another vehicle was making a delivery. Only a narrow lane was open for two-way traffic. One car at a time with pedestrians and bikes using the road as well.

Parking for large commercial trucks is inadequate at the Beach and there is also no loading dock at the Casino structure to handle large vehicles. This planning issue simply wasn’t addressed, or was ignored, by a previous City administration. And. . .

“Are you kidding me? Spent all this money for lunch here and can’t even see the ocean!”

Was at the Beach, just sitting down for lunch. . .
This truck pulled up and parked with a loud “hiss” of air brakes. . .
. . . and a little later so did this one.

More deliveries. . .
This is not the fault of any business operating at the beach or the truck driver. It’s due to faulty site planning back in 2009 and 2010.
Not exactly the best use of a bike lane, is it?

The ultimate solution is making physical changes to the property that would provide better and more accessible areas for delivery vehicles and the public.

So here we are.
Get involved and contact your elected leaders. New ideas are welcome.