Thursday, August 10, 2017

First meeting of the C-51 Advisory Committee in Lake Worth City Hall yesterday.

It will take some time to see how effective this committee is and how information is disseminated to the community. The message to the public needs to be clear: this project is at the design phase, not the operational phase.

For example, if the public gets too narrowly focused now on questions such as what entity will be operating this future facility or the cost for boaters, then the need for this committee needs to be brought into question. The better option may be a board with representatives from each city along the C-51 Canal bringing together their ideas and concerns to the same table.

We’ll know better in 2–4 weeks how effective this board is and whether or not this is the best way to educate and inform the public.

The meeting in progress yesterday.
The meeting occurred in the City Hall Conference Room with a full compliment of board members present. The committee’s roster appears below.

The board elected Michelle Sylvester as Chair and Laura Starr as Vice Chair as its first order of business. Most of the meeting consisted of a presentation on the history of Blueway Trail Coalition and project by Kim Delaney of Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council. Then, Brett Whitfield of Chen-Moore Engineering went through the design development process related to the proposed boat lift and kayak/canoe facilities.

You can attend a meeting at the South Florida Water Management District headquarters in West Palm Beach tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. The full presentation will be given for the Blueway Trail Coalition attendees.

Below are some highlights from the presentation to give you an idea of some of the alternatives examined, the resulting design, and estimates of the capital costs. Operation, maintenance costs and responsibilities still have to be addressed. Many of the questions from the committee concerned these issues.

Here is a quick checklist that reflects the design evolution of the project. A hybrid of Alternatives 5 and 6 emerged as the final preliminary design for a number of reasons.

Rather than focus on the alternatives that were discarded, here are the slides from the presentation that represent the refined and latest design.

Click on images to enlarge.
 Let’s begin with the fishing pier design.

The new design is shown in the black line overlay on the above picture. Gone will be the rickety wooden piers that served the public for many years. The pier on the West Palm Beach side is already demolished while the one on the Lake Worth side awaits demolition as well. These new piers will be of fixed poured concrete construction and include a lower “catch and release” area at the east end of the piers. Access to the Lake Worth pier will be reoriented to come from the west.

One of the key design elements will be a living shoreline which reduces the need for a bulkhead and will provide area for the establishment of native species. The canoe/kayak areas will be around the outer, or south edge of the boat lift area. It will consist of a natural “beach” area with enough reach to accommodate high and low tide periods.

Integrated plans showing the canoe/kayak area, boat lift and fishing piers.

We learned the boat lift mechanism will be able move 4–5 boats/hour. There was some discussion about how this would operate when boats are waiting to go both east and west. The lift will be operated by an attendant and may have a kiosk for payment. Whether a new agency, a combination of local governments or just one, like Palm Beach County, will pay for the attendant still needs to be determined. These were the types of questions asked by the committee.

These two views are closer and show the detail of the western (above) and eastern (below) of the project. One of the details we learned during the meeting is debris west of the Spillway now directed and collected on the south side of the canal will be redirected to the north. The location of the entrance to the boat lift and the canoe/kayak area are incompatible with the current configuration.

In the picture above, Mr. Whitfield is pointing at the enhanced wetland habitat area. If you look closely, you can see a manatee gate at the eastern end of the channel that will be used for the boat lift. By the way, the Committee asked for the cost of the boat lift and the canoe/kayak area be broken out of the total project cost.

Through the design generation process a better idea of the overall costs of the project emerged. How and who will be paying for the project has yet to be determined. It was pointed out all the permitting agencies were involved in the process and their comments/directions were incorporated into the resulting design. This should help in the next steps that include the permitting process.

A firm date was not been set for the next meeting of the C-51 Advisory Committee.