Saturday, October 13, 2007

Visits from Around the World 9/1 to 10/13

Just an update on the geographic coverage of this website. This is from my Google tracking software which, for some reason, has been under-counting recently as compared to another tracking device I have installed. But, it is able to create this nifty map. In the actual version (the above is a screen shot), you can "mouse over" the dots for the name of the city and the number of visits from each.

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lest We Forget...

...about the contrasts between the built environment of Lake Worth and that of other urban areas in Palm Beach County, I thought it would be helpful to post these pictures here. Many times we lose the frame of reference and can get carried away with distorted notions of what real estate development is and how cities are created and defined.

So, the next time you hear about over-development in Lake Worth, refer back to these pictures:

West Palm Beach

Singer Island

Lake Worth

This is looking east, from the walkway under the bridge. You can see the crane used for pier repairs at the beach on the right side of the picture.

This is looking west, south of the bridge, with the southern edge of the bridge just out of
the picture to the right.

This is the view west from "Ye Olde Bridge Park", the north edge of the bridge is
just out of the picture to the left.

Taken at the West Edge of Old Bridge Park Today

This is the back of a sign at the northwestern end of Old Bridge Park. People have been telling me about it for a while and I happened to have my camera with me today as I was going by. Any idea who this "Larry" is and why would he be living here?

Other side of sign.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Last Night's Planning and Zoning Board Workshop

The P&Z Board held a workshop in the City Hall conference room last night regarding revisions to the Comprehensive Plan, based upon our Master Plan exercise. Those in attendance got to hear Kim Delaney of Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council talk about transit oriented developments (TODs) and how to make our Comprehensive Plan more attractive for the establishment of a transit station at the FEC (eastern) railroad tracks.

Below is an image from the South Florida East Coast Corridor study related to station suitability. For a link to the site for more information (and there is a lot of it!) click here.
Soon I will be able to post portions of Kim's Powerpoint presentation. It was interesting hearing someone at the regional planning council and talk about how density is used as an issue to create conflict in communities, but that it really comes down to the individual design of a project. There are some lower density projects that are much less attractive than more dense residential properties. This was needed information for some of those in attendance at the meeting and it was great to hear it said with authority.

More on this later.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Definition of Obscure

Main Entry: 1ob·scure
Pronunciation: äb-'skyur, &b-
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French oscur, obscur, from Latin obscurus
1 a : DARK, DIM b : shrouded in or hidden by darkness c : not clearly seen or easily distinguished : FAINT <obscure markings>
2 : not readily understood or clearly expressed; also : MYSTERIOUS
3 : relatively unknown: as a : REMOTE, SECLUDED obscure village> b : not prominent or famous obscure poet>
4 : constituting the unstressed vowel \&\ or having unstressed \&\ as its value
- ob·scure·ly adverb
- ob·scure·ness noun
synonyms OBSCURE, DARK, VAGUE, ENIGMATIC, CRYPTIC, AMBIGUOUS, EQUIVOCAL mean not clearly understandable. OBSCURE implies a hiding or veiling of meaning through some inadequacy of expression or withholding of full knowledge <obscure poems>. DARK implies an imperfect or clouded revelation often with ominous or sinister suggestion dark hints of revenge>. VAGUE implies a lack of clear formulation due to inadequate conception or consideration vague sense of obligation>. ENIGMATIC stresses a puzzling, mystifying quality <enigmatic occult writings>. CRYPTIC implies a purposely concealed meaning <cryptic hints of hidden treasure>. AMBIGUOUS applies to language capable of more than one interpretation ambiguous directive>. EQUIVOCAL applies to language left open to differing interpretations with the intention of deceiving or evading equivocal phrasing>.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Blog Action Day - October 15, 2007

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day
Click banner for more information or click on You Tube video promoting the day. Look here next Monday for my post in honor of the day.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Reminder: Truth Matters

Truth Matters will air LIVE tomorrow, Tuesday the 9th, from 8 to 9 p.m. You can click here for the link, courtesy of Lake Worth Lots to cover - we'll go over some of the recent posts made here and other items of interest in the City. Greg Vannier and I look forward to chatting with you. I will be posting a link for questions from the Lake Worth Talk discussion board tomorrow. You can also post questions and comments here by clicking on "Comments" below this post.

Thanks for listening!

In Recognition of Columbus Day...

For more information about the voyage and Columbus' life click here.

Ethics Workshop 11/9








TIME: 8:30 AM TO 12:30 PM


According to some news media reports, Southeast Florida’s governmental institutions and the professionals who staff, attend and serve them are embedded in a “Culture of Corruption”. In one recent national survey, Florida is ranked the ninth most corrupt state in the nation. During the last year, there have numerous examples in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties of public officials who have been forced to resign, arrested, and in some cases, gone to jail for unethical behavior. For some, the consequences have been disastrous – the loss of reputation, loss of liberty, loss of income, and loss of self-esteem.

What should land use and planning professionals –planners, attorneys, landscape architects, civil engineers and others -- learn from this experience? This seminar will explore the ethical challenges and resources available to help prevent and resist a "culture of corruption”. Following a brief description of the culture, its attractions and pitfalls, we will explore the laws and rules of professional conduct and identify resources – formal and informal -- that may help you avoid “cultural contamination” and keep you on the “straight and narrow path”. Confirmed speakers include representatives of the news media, the Florida Bar, public and private sector planning professionals, and academics.

Further information, including a registration form, will be forthcoming later this week. See the end of this email for registration deadlines and fees.

When you register, we will invite you to assist us in keeping the discussion relevant by identifying ethical issues that you have experienced or would like to see explored. All suggestions will be kept strictly confidential.

For more information, please contact Frank Palen, AICP, at 561-655-0620 or


REGISTRATION FEE (Includes Continental Breakfast, Coffee Break, Printed Materials):

ADVANCE (By October 26, 2007)......$25.00*

REGULAR (By November 7, 2007)......$35.00*

LATE (November 8 – 9, 2007)........$45.00*

*Payment must be postmarked or received on Pay Pal by the above dates.

*Checks should be made out to the Palm Beach County Planning Congress and mailed to PO Box 1371, West Palm Beach, FL 33402.

*Electronic payments by cash, check or credit card can be made via the Pay Pal Link on the PBC Planning Congress website at (this link will be active by October 10, 2007).

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Day for Play Pics

Yesterday morning I ventured out and dropped by the pocket park at the southeast corner of North A Street and 3rd Avenue. It was part of the National Day for Play - encouraging kids to get outside and play. These pictures are from early in the day and things were really just gearing up when I was there. There was face painting, a little soccer, music, water balloons, three legged races, fire trucks and all sorts of other fun stuff for kids...of all ages! The park was funded through the Lake Worth CRA.

There were other events at other City parks. For information on the National Day for Play click here.

West Baden Springs Hotel, West Baden, Indiana

This is something I have been meaning to post here since I returned from my visit to Indiana early in September. My father and I took a day trip to West Baden, Indiana (roughly due south of Bloomington and Indianapolis) to tour the West Baden Springs Hotel. Originally built in the early 1900s, the building fell on hard times and for a while was on the National Trust for Historic Preservation 11 most endangered structures list. (Click here to see their 2007 list.) It has now been turned into a resort spa hotel and is being fueled economically by the legalization of gambling in the local area. There was quite a crowd there when we were visiting.

The following pictures were ones that I took during the tour. The building is known for its large atrium area that was the largest clear span dome in the world prior to the construction of the Astrodome in the early 1960s. For an overview of the property and more historical information, you can click here.

I post this here because I think we need to remember in this City that a large part of humankind's achievement is marked by buildings. For some reason, many here see building as a bad thing. One of the primary characteristics of our species is that we are builders. It is part of what we do as homo sapiens. In fact, in the earlier history of Lake Worth we were known as the Wonder City! People would hold parties in new buildings celebrating their completion - a mark of local human achievement. Some buildings, like the West Baden Hotel become destinations in and of themselves due to their magnificence. Other buildings, like our original casino building on the beach combine building and environment that create a unique synergy. The building under construction now in Lake Worth called Vive Verde will be one of the most green structures attempted - complete with a working biolarium. So, let's not forget the power of buildings, what they tell us about ourselves and how we can combine space and the built environment for a uniquely human experience. Let's not deny this.


This is a view as we were walking from the parking lot toward the building complex.
It gives you a sense of scale.

This is the exterior of the natatorium and spa building, seen upon the approach to the building.

This is a partial view of the domed atrium area. Guest rooms for the hotel (which just opened in July) surround the space. Interestingly, prices for the rooms are higher looking over the atrium than are the "country view" rooms which face outside.

Here you see a portion of the mosaic floor and some of the furnishings.
The hotel bar is seen in the background.

Some of the detailed patterns contained in the marble mosaic tile floor. There are over 12 million hand laid tiles. The center of the floor had to be completely rebuilt due to uplifting over time.
That area is now carpeted.

This is my father. We were waiting for the beginning of our tour. He's a healthy 82 year old!

This is a fireplace built into the side of the atrium area and dates from the late teens.
It contains a whimsical view of the property.

Some detail of the fireplace surround. Here you see a representation of the building in an idylic setting.

Look here! A gnome guarding one of the mineral (sulfur) springs that were thought to have magical healing powers and the original reason for the establishment of the hotel.

Some more detail of the atrium area and the hallway that leads to the mineral bath and spa area of the resort.

Now we're outside of the building, touring the grounds. These stairs were added later on in the buildings life, along with the porch that they lead to.

Part of the remaining sulfur spring area of the property and gardens.

Closer view of the fountain. You did smell the sulfur as you walked around. As for its curative powers, apparently it has a strong laxative effect. So it's good for one thing at least.

These are the tiles found in the lobby area - a different pattern than that found in the atrium. This part of the building is lit with incandescent lights - so much so it is reminiscent of a county fair. Since electricity and artificial lighting was a new technology at the time, the original owner chose to emphasize that fact with liberal use of bulbs. The hotel generated its own power then as well. Hmmmmm.