Thursday, May 25, 2017

Segment #2 and a video. “Getting from Point A to Point B”: President Donald Trump, tourism and “Trains, Planes, and Automobiles!”

Check back tomorrow for more information from the Public Discussions held on May 22nd. Use this link for the blog post from yesterday, “Segment #1”.
This forum was hosted by Town of Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio, West Palm Beach Commissioner Shanon Materio, and Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard.

The video below is very interesting. If you want to learn more about the coming Brightline train service, you will want to watch the presentation by Ali Soule, Brightline’s Director of Public Affairs. Service is about to begin this summer and she gives an update on the status of the train stations in each area where the Phase 1 operations will begin. Those are downtown Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

She shares information regarding the length of a Brightline train (500′: comparable to a Tri-Rail train) to that of 2-mile-long freight trains that currently run on the FEC tracks. She also talks about the improvements made to the corridor in terms of signalization and how they will now be “quiet” crossings, and she also reviews various safety measures that are in place: a priority for Brightline. Notably, the FEC tracks are one of the north/south features that intersect the Okeechobee corridor. That was the main subject of the discussions that took place last Monday.

Below this video is more information Messrs. Jorge Pesquera and Tom Bradford, names many of you will recognize.

Jorge Pesquera, CEO of Discover the Palm Beaches, followed and reviewed occupancy rates for hotel rooms in Palm Beach County. The County continues to draw in record numbers of tourists. He points out that this is no accident as Palm Beach County has high quality venues and developed a coherent brand strategy to accomplish this. He shares facts such as a 41% increase in visitors since 2010, totaling over 7 million. He identifies the various markets where these visitors come from, including those visiting from in-state locations.

He points out that the inventory of rooms is actually less than the peak of 2007 due to attrition of rooms over time and lack of replacement rooms — a certain developer in the City of Lake Worth needs to pay attention — this means to me the Gulfstream Hotel would be a key destination if it were open given these tight market conditions. I really encourage you to watch that portion of the video.

Palm Beach Town Manager, Tom Bradford, rounded out the discussion, talking about the unique impacts the Town of Palm Beach experiences based upon its proximity to downtown West Palm Beach and reliance on the drawbridges (which are controlled by the Coast Guard) for access to the town. He also talks about the challenges presented by one visitor in particular, the President of the United States, and his frequent visits to the town.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow and Thank You for visiting today.