Sunday, April 15, 2018

Make your voice heard next Saturday at The HATCH! No more “white elephants” at the Lake Worth Beach and Casino!

Please Note: Below is a press release from
the City of Lake Worth about an upcoming
charrette on April 21st at The HATCH.

And to find out why constructing a brand new Olympic-sized pool at the Beach is just a terrible idea in so many ways click on this link.

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.

Whilst on the topic, here is a press release from the City of Lake Worth from Ben Kerr, PIO:

Lake Worth, Fl — On April 21st, 2018, the City of Lake Worth and CPZ Architects [learn more about this architectural firm below] will host a public charrette at The HATCH, 1121 Lucerne Ave., to gain public input on the Lake Worth Beach Complex Conceptual Design Improvements project.
     All residents are invited to participate and provide suggestions for the upcoming improvement project of the Lake Worth Beach Complex. The charrette will run from 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
     For more information please contact Ben Kerr, Public Information Officer at 561-586-1631 or by email:

Below is information you may have missed from the Lake Worth City Commission meeting held on January 16th this year.

A motion was made by Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell and seconded by Commissioner Omari Hardy to approve the Consent Agenda. The vote was unanimous. Here is “Item Q” on consent:
Professional Services Agreement with CPZ Architects, Inc. for Task Order #1.

For more about how we got to this point, from October 2017 on this blog:
  • Click on this link for “Part 1. Quote by Lake Worth Asst. City Manager Juan Ruiz, ‘It’s obviously a high point of interest in our community.’ ”
  • And for “Part 2. ‘RFQ 17-305 for Lake Worth Beach Complex Conceptual Plans Design’ ”, click on this link.

So following the charrette at The HATCH on April 21st the Lake Worth City Commission could boldly take a new path for the City’s Beach and Casino. But if history is any clue, like what happened from 2006–2011, and it’s decided by the Commission to construct another lap pool we’ll most certainly end up with another “white elephant”, a term first used by Mr. Tom McGow 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.

Let’s take another stroll down memory lane.

Reporter Scott McCabe’s interesting timeline: History of the Lake Worth Beach and Casino:

 “Hmmm. You know, Mabel, I’ve heard that name before. Do you remember a fella named Scott McCabe?”

Does the name Scott McCabe sound familiar? It should if you’ve been around for a while. He is a former reporter for The Palm Beach Post from 1998–2005. Use this link for his LinkedIn page to see what he’s up to now.

McCabe sent me this historical timeline (see below) eleven years ago and besides being interesting it’s also a bit troubling as well. It’s 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 from 2008–2010 and all those split 3-2 votes on almost everything of importance.

Without further ado. . . This timeline by Scott McCabe is from 1912–2000 of our City of Lake Worth Beach and former Casino structures compiled in 2007.

“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’ by the way, was actually 94% demolished in 2010 and it was “Greenwashed” too. But going forward hope springs eternal we’ll move past all that history ‘back in the day.

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: