Friday, October 26, 2018

A historical timeline and for those of you wondering, “What’s going on with that pool at Beach and Casino Complex?”

It’s hard to believe but some still think that constructing another lap swimming pool at the Lake Worth Beach is a good idea. But it’s not. It’s a terrible idea and continue reading to find out why.

There is a timeline below beginning in 1912 about the Lake Worth Beach and the structures built on that City property and there is also an update and more background explaining how we got to this point in 2018 for those of you who would like a refresher.

[Are you a regular reader of this blog and familiar with this topic? Or just fed up with this mess going on for so many years now and just want to see that very interesting timeline? Then please scroll down to when back in 1912, “A two-story bath house, known as the Old Casino opens. . .”]

Unless something occurs in the meantime to delay or alter the schedule it looks as though December or January something will happen. The Season is upon us and that’s what most people are focused on right now.

It would have been nice to have had the pool buildings razed a few months ago, the pool filled in and the whole thing just paved over and forget about it. Once the public gets used to not seeing a pool visioning of other things for that space can begin, e.g., like more parking on top of the dune, an outside stage for shows and/or movies, shuffleboard which is catching on with the Millennials, or maybe an open space for things like car shows.

The results from the charrette held on April 21st at The HATCH were formally presented to the City in early August. The parking and traffic flaws have been well-documented at the Beach. The second floor remains un-leased. You know, that space with the “killer view” of rainwater that leaked underneath the doors for several years. The grease trap and trash area is in the wrong place and then there are the ADA issues and some other problems too as many readers of this blog will recall.

The big hope is our Lake Worth City Commission will boldly take a new path for the City’s Beach and Casino especially as it relates to having an Olympic-sized pool for lap swimming and ending up with another “white elephant”, a term first coined about that facility back in March 2010:

The Olympic sized pool at the beach is a white elephant whose time has passed. Let’s view the entire beach property with 21st century eyes and stop clinging to the past and install features that will attract people and revenue.

The public frustration was summed up quite well by the editor at The Lake Worth Herald who pulled no punches last year in an editorial titled, “Stop The Bleeding!”

Lake Worth needs a pool, but they also need some staffers with some creativity. How many times do we have to fail at the same thing before we realize it is the taxpayers who suffer in other areas so we can keep failing?

Simply put. The argument comes down to whether or not this City of Lake Worth needs a large municipal pool at the Beach or one constructed somewhere else in this City for swimmers, water exercise and for public safety, e.g., teaching children how to swim.

And really now folks, seriously!

Does the Town of Palm Beach need another large pool nearby for lap swimming and to teach water sports like synchronized swimming?

Click on image to enlarge:

Image courtesy of Tom McGow from eight years ago. Some of you will recognize a former city manager, a former mayor and commissioners, and a current Vice Mayor Pro Tem who has been working hard ever since 2009 to fix all this mess at the Lake Worth Beach and Casino complex.

Now. . .

Without further ado!

About the timeline created by Scott McCabe who is a former Palm Beach Post reporter (1998–2005). Does the name Scott McCabe sound familiar? It should if you’ve been around a while. To see what he is up to now click on this link for his LinkedIn page.

McCabe sent me this historical timeline in 2007. Besides being interesting it’s also a bit troubling as well. Sort of a reminder about all the political squabbling and grandstanding that’s held this City back for so many years like after the Great Recession in 2008–2010 and all those split 3-2 votes on almost everything of importance:

“A two-story bath house, known as the Old Casino opens. . .”

Note the tower on the north side
of the former Casino:

This image is prior to the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane which damaged much of the second floor and destroyed the former Casino’s tower.

Enjoy reading this timeline and keep in mind the current situation in historical context:

  • 1912: City leases oceanfront property from Palm Beach resident E.M. Brelsford.
  • 1913: A two-story bath house, known as the Old Casino, opens and serves as a gathering place for bathers and Saturday dances. Gambling is allowed until 1928.
  • 1918: Fire destroys the structure.
  • 1922: Lake Worth Casino and Baths opens, featuring a saltwater pool and an underground passage to the beach.
  • 1928: Boardwalk built; hurricane damages Casino tower.
  • 1947: Hurricane tears open the Casino’s roof.
  • 1949: Casino remodeled with $185,000 in bond money; upper level parking lot built near Casino building; pool changes from salt to freshwater.
  • 1951: Concrete promenade replaces boardwalk.
  • 1959: Pier opens.
  • 1973: John G’s Restaurant opens in Casino building, becomes famous for its huge breakfasts.
  • 1982: City Commission pays architects Peacock & Lewis $45,000 in January for plan to revitalize the Beach and Casino. The $3 million plan includes a restaurant, recreation area and pedestrian promenade. In June, residents petition Commission to stop Beach improvements.
  • 1983: Peacock & Lewis plan estimated to cost $8.5 million.
  • 1985: Commissioners accept renovation at $6.6 million in February, then finally cancel it in April. City then plans to build a convention center at Municipal Beach Complex.
  • 1986: Commissioners agree with consultants Botkin & Associates, Inc. that Casino should be demolished and rebuilt but take no action.
  • 1990: Underground passage filled in; commissioners contemplate building a miniature golf course at the beach.
  • 1993: Developer Pugliese Co. proposes movie theater, restaurant and apartments at the Beach.
  • 1995: Commissioners end talks with Pugliese in April; Bridge Design Associates submits study in July on the Casino building, reports it needs to be repaired but is salvageable.
  • 1996: Developer David Paladino proposes 160,000 square feet of shops and restaurants in August; the city takes no action; city surveys voters in November about their visits to the beach and what they’d like to see there.
  • August 1998: City officials ask more than 100 developers for ideas to improve the beach area.
  • November 1998: Four development teams, including Paladino, submit plans that include a hotel, park, timeshare, shops and restaurants.
  • December 1998: Commission aborts multi-million dollar plan for any redevelopment after residents complain.
  • March 3–4, 2000: City to hold public meetings to find out what residents want for the area.

Interesting timeline, is it not?

The photograph below is the former Casino in 2000. Note the pool building on the left side of the image. A former City administration built a new Casino without taking the aging municipal pool into consideration. Now the pool is shut down for good and will never reopen at the Beach.

However, the outlook is not so bleak. There is a very good possibility another location in the City will
be found for a municipal pool.

The rest as they say, “is history”? Hopefully so. Our newly-renovated Casino’ was actually 94% demolished in 2010, and to make matters worse,
it was
“Greenwashed” too.

Hopefully another use will be found for the area where the pool is located at the Beach so it doesn’t turn into another ‘white elephant’, unable to survive the next recession or downturn in the economy like the former pool, a facility that needed care and maintenance for many years but the City ended up running out of funds.

The pool didn’t close because it was old. It closed because the City couldn’t afford to take care of it properly for so many decades.

One last thing. A developer seeking to renovate the Gulfstream Hotel may want to read over the timeline several times. The Beach in the City of Lake Worth — you could say — can be problematic. And it’s also a good idea to have a track record to demonstrate to the public you can complete a project here in the little City of Lake Worth before looking at the Beach to be part of the business plan.

One can also say the public here in the City is not in a trusting mood these days, especially after what happened when a developer had their eyes on the Beach back in August 2015.

The lesson is, when the public speaks, it’s a
good idea to try and listen: