Sunday, July 9, 2017

Stay Tuned: Before long we’ll see agenda for the C-51 Advisory Committee (CAC), then very first meeting of the board.

To learn more about CAC and the role of this City of Lake Worth volunteer advisory board use this link.

Latest news about the Blueway Trail Project: June 30th was the Project Design and Permit Filing Deadline with the State of Florida.

The Palm Beach Post’s news blackout continues, not reporting any news about the Blueway Trail. However, the Sun Sentinel and other news outlets are picking up the slack.

But that doesn’t mean excitement is dimming in the least. For example, read what Lake Worth Commissioner Omari Hardy had to say at a recent gathering of local government and County officials:

“[T]he Blueway Trail Project, there’s this very, very strong interest in that from our neighboring elected officials just like there’s strong interest from our residents here in Lake Worth.”
Take note supporters of the Blueway Trail: Be prepared for more propaganda/mis- and disinformation just like last year.

This Letter to the Editor published last July in the Post demonstrates perfectly the mis- and disinformation to look out for in the press and media:

West Palm Beach has plans [not true, it's not a city project] to connect the chain of lakes to allow small boats access to the Lake Worth lagoon. My concern is for the quality of marine life, human life [huh?] and tourism from discharge that will be flowing into the Intercoastal [sic, s/b “Intracoastal”] Waterway, eventually contaminating beaches.

 Tweet courtesy of Discover the Palm Beaches, July 2016 at our Lake Worth Beach!
“Beautiful blues!” at the Lake Worth Pier at the BEACH! 

There wasn’t always a news blackout at the Post about this exciting project. In 2015 there were several news reports, e.g., reporter Tony Doris had this article published in April of 2015, an excerpt:

A sometimes boisterous gathering of more than 100 residents of West Palm’s South End told consultants at a neighborhood “visioning” meeting Thursday that they want a cohesive plan to revitalize the area but that that can’t include messing with the popular municipal golf course.
     Several suggested building a new golf club house that could serve as a community center. Others urged working to turn the C-51 canal into a focal point, with a marina, restaurants or other attractions.
     Still others said it was clear that all the city’s revitalization money has been going to the North End and downtown and that the South End has been neglected for too long. And there were calls for better street lighting and sidewalk treatments, for supporting local businesses rather than chain stores, for providing families with a place to go and for coordinating efforts with neighboring Lake Worth.

The last line is what pushed some in the City of Lake Worth over the edge and became “unhinged”. This group is small and getting smaller all the time. However, they can make a lot of noise sometimes.

“I’m new to this. Can you explain what the Blueway Trail is?”

Absolutely, let’s take a step back.

Here is a map for your reference as we proceed.
Click on images to enlarge:
You can see the C-51 Canal. West Palm Beach is to the north, City of Lake Worth to the south.

Here is an aerial photo of the area.
Water in the C-51 canal flows east into the Intracoastal.

Boats and pleasure craft could easily make their way into the Intracoastal but for the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) “Spillway Control Structure S-155” marked by the large black “x” in the map above. This structure is called a ‘spillway’ by most of the public and that is actually untrue. Water doesn’t spill over the structure; the gates rise and water flows under the gates, not over. But that’s a small matter.

The discussion by many in the south end of West Palm Beach and in the City of Lake Worth as well is about looking at the C-51 Canal in an entirely new way. For example, when you enter Lake Worth, to the west, you’ll see a large, mostly vacant shopping center with the back of the structure facing the canal.

Many envision this changing in the future with buildings and new development facing the canal.

Instead of a “spillway” blocking access by water, the public (recreational boaters, kayakers, canoes, etc.) will have access to the Intracoastal and also access from the Intracoastal to communities to the west such as Lake Clarke Shores, Palm Springs, and even the County’s John Prince Park.

Sounds like a good idea, right? Unless you are one of that group in Lake Worth that rather keep the C-51 what it is now, a moat of sorts to ‘save’ our wonderfully ‘charming’ little City.

As it is right now the cities of West Palm Beach and Lake Worth share a waterway that does nothing but act as a drain — that’s it — it serves no public purpose other than that. Kayakers never use it and neither do people in canoes. Once in a while you’ll see a small watercraft in the C-51 turning around when they see the warning signs not to proceed any further. Now and then you’ll see people fishing west of the Spillway. That’s about it. 

Along the C-51, just east of the Spillway on the Lake Worth side, is a park called “Spillway Park”. Access to the park by car is Maryland Dr. off Federal Hwy. (or Olive as it’s called north of the C-51). Spillway Park has undergone recent improvements and the editor at The Lake Worth Herald has some things to say about that. The actual Spillway structure is closed to the public. When you walk up to the fence at the Spillway it looks like a wonderful bike and pedestrian path and maybe that will happen some day. 

The point is that the future of the south end in West Palm Beach won’t happen in a bubble and neither will the future of our Dixie Hwy. in Lake Worth. In many ways the public in West Palm Beach want the same things we do: a walkable, bikeable city that’s safe, fun, and accessible for everyone. We can help each other and in many ways that’s already happening.

Many are excited about the Blueway Trail project and I hope after reading this you will get excited too. Get involved, attend meetings, and contact your elected officials as well!

Thank You for visiting today.