Saturday, April 21, 2007

One Visitor's Perspective...

Between work and a visit from a long time from from Dallas this week, I've had little time to post anything here. We had a great time at Karaoke Thursday night and I've posted some pictures from that evening. My friend, Andrew, is a person I first met right after I moved to Florida from Michigan. We met cause he happened to work with my partner-at-the-time and we have been close ever since.

Andrew and me at the Mad Hatter

We hear a lot about people moving out of Lake Worth - especially from those that like to see the glass as more than half empty. Andrew is someone who wants to move back to Lake Worth. He moved out of the area in the early 90s, received his Masters Degree in Social Work from a school in Iowa (where his family is from) and then moved to Dallas. He is at a point in his life now that he would like to return here, as most of his family is now gone and the "family" that he does have is still in the area, most of those people live in Lake Worth.

His situation is such now that he is looking for an apartment in the low $700/month range. We looked at some properties yesterday - sort of drive-bys. Some on North J - didn't like - and some in an around the downtown area. One right across from the former Mayor's house and another one in a nicely kept historic apartment building in the Downtown Jewel neighborhood (those two were o.k, maybe better than o.k.). He'll follow up on those today.

We'll also make it to the Art Cars exhibit on J Street today.

Madame Sue-Nami and Andrew at Karaoke

My point in telling you this story - and there is a little more beyond the apartment story - is that there are still decent "affordable" rental housing units in the City of Lake Worth that can attract quality people that will be able to contribute to our community. This is a good thing.

The other part of the story is that he spent some time yesterday at the beach - later in the afternoon. Last night, he couldn't stop talking about how "sad" it is to look at the pier and how after the hurricanes - it is still not repaired. I explained to him how FEMA is involved, the contract is let and work should be starting "soon". That still didn't satisfy him. Beyond the pier, he went on to say the "dogged-eared" condition of the buildings shows that the City hasn't thought that it is important to maintain/repair or replace these important public buildings on our most important property. He went on to say that to see the pier in that condition told him that City government has failed to maintain something in an acceptable condition and that broadcasts to the world that the City "just doesn't care" and that "bleeds over into other areas" related to citizen morale, crime and most poignantly, represents "City-sanctioned blight". He also agreed with me that it represents an important part of the City's heritage that is important to preserve.

I told him he could have been me on the campaign trail talking about the beach.

And, to be honest and to give you some assurance that I am not making up the story, he doesn't like some of the townhouses along Federal.

So the moral of the story - in order to keep our City so that it is considered an attractive place to move back to-we need to make sure our public properties are in good shape - especially our flagship beach property.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Results from Last Night's Commission meeting...

After much discussion, the City Commission decided to enter into a lease agreement with Compass for use of the soon-to-be former Senior Center. Vespo, Clemens and Golden voted in favor of the lease. Commissioner Golden seemed to talk around the issue a lot, but ended up voting in favor of it.

In response to Commissioner Jennings' suggestion that Compass pay more money because they have the resources to do it (Message to Commissioner Jennings - more money from Compass to the City would take away money that Compass uses to serve those in need of services), Commissioner Golden threw out the idea that instead of $1,000 a year, why don't we ask for a $1,000 a month. (Note to Commissioner Golden - Your employer, the Lake Worth Community Development Corporation enjoys a $1 a year lease of a City property, including a building. How about those financials Jo Ann?) This from a Commissioner that talked about the importance of process and playing on an even playing field.

Democracy requires constant vigilance.

At least, the Commission made the right decision and Compass can move forward with their plans. Thank you Compass for deciding to relocate to the City of Lake Worth!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Compass in Downtown Lake Worth

This is what was e-mailed from me to the Commissioners prior to the 10/17 Commission meeting (six months ago) - I am re-posting here and now in advance of the Commission meeting tonight.:

Dear Mayor, Commissioners and City Manager:

I offer this in support of negotiating a lease with Compass to use the current Senior Center. A new Senior Center is being readied by Palm Beach County and is planned to open in the Fall of 2007. This will leave this City facility vacant.

Compass is a mature social service organization that serves a significant portion of Lake Worth residents. Tony Plakas of HomeRule Strategies, LLC has done a great job outlining the strengths of the organization and the services provided. I'd like to take a moment and highlight the benefits of such a move:
  • Compass would establish a use for the building that is consistent with the original intent of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974.
  • People using the services and support that Compass provides would create another destination and attraction for people to come to our downtown area - adding to the City's vitality. Using the building as just another set of City offices would not have the same effect. Compass also has many evening activities as well as providing educational and cultural events for the Lake Worth community.
  • Resources, staff, volunteers will provide a ready supply of materials and support during times of hurricanes - all can be called upon to render needed help when the situation arises.
  • Meeting spaces for public and private entities would be available.
  • Compass is self-supporting and not reliant upon City funding. They have the resources to maintain the building and grounds in an appropriate manner.
  • Compass' funding sources bring "other" money into the Lake Worth economy. It serves as a portal for all sorts of other governmental and private resources and programs for those in need.
  • It is consistent with the Master Plan direction in this area of the City and will likely be near future mass transit opportunities when passenger mass transit service is established on the FEC railroad. It is already on Dixie Hwy. and Palm Tran's most utilized route.
Reserving this existing building for City offices would be ill-advised and represent a short term "make-do" measure. Compass is ready to go and start a campaign to raise capital for a new facility. The time to act is now.

Let's do our best to make Compass feel at home and welcomed in the City of Lake Worth.


Wes Blackman

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Beach and Casino Land Use Designation - Response from the State of Florida

This past week, the City received the following response from the State of Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA) regarding the creation of the Beach and Casino Future Land Use District and Future Land Use Plan amendment. I plan to discuss it during Truth Matters and will also post it there on the Truth Matters blog on Lake Worth You can use the link immediately to the right of this post to get you there. I am finishing up posting items for tonight's show - the first in what should be a series of shows on comprehensive planning and zoning in the City of Lake Worth.

The show runs from 8 to 9 p.m. on Lake Worth

If you are unable to click on the images to make them larger - you can either use your zoom - if you have IE 7 or another browser with zoom capability - or you can e-mail and I can foward them to you.

It's my understanding that the response to this letter will be presented at the May 2, 2007 Planning and Zoning Board meeting. The City Commission will consider the item upon recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Board

Here are the documents from DCA: