Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Segment #6 and a video. “Comments and Questions” from Public Forum in West Palm Beach, “Getting from Point A to Point B”.

This forum held was hosted by Town of Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio, West Palm Beach Commissioner Shanon Materio, and Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard.

Click on image to enlarge:
For the previous segment, #5, “Better Late Than Never”, the editorial in the Post on May 31st and more information from the presenting experts on May 22nd, use this link.

For Segment #4, “Presentation given by PBC Administrator Verdenia Baker” and to read segments 1–3 of the series use this link.

This segment is about the final portion of the event at the West Palm Beach Convention Center which centered on the traffic situation in downtown West Palm Beach. Keep checking back for more about this Public Forum and topics such as how this all ties in with the Palm Beach MPO and “impact fees”, how what’s happening in WPB affects my city, the City of Lake Worth, and why organizations like the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council are so vital.

The organizers of this forum placed particular focus on the Okeechobee Blvd. corridor between Australian Ave. up to and including the Town of Palm Beach. As a testament to the timeliness and importance of this forum, much of the crowd of around 200 people stayed for the entire morning. The video (see below) is evidence of that as many people stepped up to one of the two microphones placed at the front of the room to offer comments and ask questions.

You might find it interesting this particular video is the second-most watched of the series taken that day, it’s being shared a lot already. Organizers plan to address the comments and questions generated during this session in some manner. There were many worthy ideas floated during this part of the program and it was felt best to get them all out while people were there — not taking time to respond to them all for the sake of time — these topics will likely be addressed through the website created for the event. Stay tuned to this blog for more information. One person expressed there is a need to know:
WHERE, WHEN, WHY and WHO are ALL the people using this transportation corridor in order to come up with some definitive answers related to the issues raised.
Twice, the notion of a possible direct link serving the Town of Palm Beach via an overpass was discussed. Possible routes mentioned called for direct access from I-95 (although going over Clear Lake might be problematic), and for an elevated route west once on the mainland. This would serve as a reliever for traffic that would otherwise use Okeechobee Blvd. for the most direct route.

The impact of new technologies was mentioned in relation to autonomous vehicles. Also referenced were “driverless water taxis” (remember the Blueway Trail!) like they use in Paris to cross the Seine River. Signalization also could be augmented for pedestrians, a countdown clock to show the time remaining to cross a wide right-of-way. All these new systems could somehow be accessed by yet-to-be-developed smart phone apps that would help those navigating the area.

We were reminded again by former West Palm Beach Mayor Graham that a vision had been in place when she was in office — she thinks that has since been lost — the city she thought needs a vision so developers and city officials don’t make decisions “willy nilly”.

Jorge Pesquera, the President and CEO of Discover the Palm Beaches, reported that conventions and conventioneers encourage corporate relocations to the area: first impressions are important. A positive experience related to community walkability and mobility is a key factor in developing a favorable memory of the visit and sets the stage for others to be influenced in the same way.

A good portion of those speaking were residents of the area, most having lived here for a very long time, and recall how much the downtown has changed.

However, some perspective is in order. It’s hard to believe now for many people reading this, but Clematis Street and many other areas nearby in West Palm Beach, were once places to avoid. I know. I worked for the City of West Palm Beach back in 1989 a few years prior to Nancy Graham becoming the mayor.

Enjoy the video and please share with everyone you know that’s interested in this timely topic.