Saturday, July 7, 2007

Lake Worth Beach: Natural Area Collection

Lake Worth Beach: "Glimpses of Charm" Collection

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Monday, July 2, 2007

Pictures from "Causeway Park", "Old Bridge Park" or...??

Below is an item from tomorrow night's City Commission agenda regarding the "park" which consists of the former right-of-way of the old bridge that connected the mainland with the barrier island. It seems that staff is in a quandary about the name of this piece of property and whether or not this has been officially declared a park.

At the last City Commission meeting, Commissioner Jennings volunteered to work with County Commissioner Warren Newell's office in the improvement of the property as a public park. The designation of this property as a park and the application of a name to it will be important in seeking grant money from many sources for improvements - badly needed improvements, as proven by the accompanying pictures.

You might recall that this particular property was the genesis for the park referendum that passed in 2005 and, in many a person's view, the albatross that kept Mayor Romano from another term in office. The referendum called for a public vote whenever City-owned property was sold. At the time, Les Evans had proposed a condominium project for the property. If that project had proceeded, it would have been a very complicated one and one that would have involved the Town of Palm Beach - since the adjacent within the Town would be part of the same development program.

The farthest the concept of the project went was declaration of the property as surplus by the Planning and Zoning Board while I was chairman. It did not go any farther than that. The Comprehensive Plan still lists "Causeway Park" as a park in the Recreation Element. It is listed under Table 7.1 - Recreation Facilities Inventory and the listing indicates that it is 2 acres and has two fishing piers (erroneous).

Furthermore, Causeway Park is also identified as a "Community Park". A Community Park has the following definition in the Comprehensive Plan (page 7.2):
Community Parks - A community park is designed to serve the recreation needs of four to six neighborhoods, and generally serves an area with a radius of up to three miles (or a population of up to 25,000). A minimum of 20 acres is recommended for the community park, based upon a standard of two acres per 1,000 of population. Typical facilities at a community park may include SWIMMING POOLS, BALL FIELDS, TENNIS COURTS, PALY AREAS, PICNIC AREAS, MULTI-PURPOSE COURTS, RECREATION BUILDINGS, AND OTHER SPORTS FIELDS (emphasis mine). Adequate parking will be required to serve the community.
So, the Planning and Zoning Board felt that it did not meet the definition of park and, if anything, all that it really did was provide adequate parking - and overflow parking for the beach - in that it really was just a parking lot, albeit a waterfront parking lot. The thought was, as put forward by then Mayor Romano, was that the property could be sold and the substantial (although one could rightfully challenge whether the $3 million would be adequate compensation - the number that was being bandied about at the time) sum from the sale could be used to create additional parks in the western areas of the City. It was also thought that with the abundance of waterfront land that the City had as public parks - the beach, the golf course, Bryant Park and, perhaps the land that is subject of the Steinhart lease (west of the beach property) - this was of such low quality that it's wealth could best be used elsewhere.

But all that was not to be. One would have hope that Mayor Drautz would have capitalized on his success, riding the coat-tails of that referendum, to put forward a bold plan for improving the park during his administration. Instead, nothing happened and the pictures below could have been taken 3 years ago.

My hope for the property is that it is improved as a Public Park - enough so that the possibility of private development is no longer possible to even contemplate. I think there might be assistance available from the Town of Palm Beach and neighboring condo dwellers, as well as traditional government and foundation sources.

There are also other factors preventing this property from sale to a private entity - the FDOT clause (indicated in the Commission memo) and the gifting by Palm Beach County of a grant for paving the property for use as public parking.

So, on Tuesday night, the Commission will get to talk about this park again, wondering what to call it and whether it indeed is a park or not. One would think that this could be taken care of in another way, but I expect to hear the history repeated at the podium by those in attendance.

Actually, the phrase "Old Bridge Park" became the moniker attached to the "park" by those in favor of preserving it as a park. It reads better in the paper and conjures up romantic notions akin to "Ye Olde Bridge Park" as some bucolic notion of history.

See pictures below for how the park appeared on Sunday, July 1, 2007.

Looking west toward the mainland - contemporary bridge at left

One of the paved areas on the northside of the parking area that could house a bench.

Ditto - only this slab is in need of repair.

Washed-out area at exit to Lake Avenue.

Looking east toward beach property.

Sign "Parking for Fishermen Only"

The park's two patrons on this day - a man and his dog.