Thursday, April 16, 2009

In DC - sketchy WiFi connection right now - maybe more tonight.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Former soccer captain for Santaluces High drowns off Lake Worth Pier

Click title for link. It underscores the importance of lifeguards at our beach. Is it responsible for the city to not have a lifeguard there during the time of year when it's lighter longer in the evening? Are we up to the responsibility involved in running a public beach? Remember, it was about two months ago the city was called out in the press for not staffing the beach with lifeguards on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Poor Joe Kroll - one of the city's few shining lights - having to defend the city in front of the press. I heard he was interviewed by Channel 5 as well. Our acting City Manager is on vacation this week (what's wrong with that!) An excerpt from the article below:

City lifeguards had left for the evening about an hour and a half before the drowning, Public Services Director Joseph Kroll said today,

While it's not known if ocean conditions played a role in the drowning, Kroll said lifeguards had posted yellow flags and warned of high surf and rip currents much of the day.

Kroll, who was at the beach during the search for Thomas, said he saw 3-to-4-foot waves at the time.

"It was pretty rough all day there," Kroll said.

Anyone know when the laxt time we had a drowning at our beach?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Message from CRA re Tenth Avenue Construction

CRA Board Members,

As many of you may know, Staff attends construction meetings with our consultants, Burkhardt construction and their sub-consultants every week. These progress meetings help us become familiar with the construction schedule, inform us of possible issues that need to be addressed and provide us with tasks to be completed.

I thought the Board was able to gain a considerable amount of understanding regarding the project at the on-site workshop so I will provide the Board with updates via e-mail whenever possible so you are all kept abreast of the progress.

As of 4/14/09

The following work is being done on the north half of the road:

· Installation of street light poles

· Installation of band curbs at the corner features

South side work:

· Installation of concrete curb between Dixie and the RR

· Installation of utilities west of C Street

· Asphalt patchwork

· Installation of conduits to the concrete poles in the alleys

· Installation of road base in the alley near crematorium on 11th Avenue.

At the next regularly scheduled Board meeting, we will discuss the Dixie and 10th Avenue intersection and the light at 10th and “A.” We have a surveyor working on the specific area included within the CRA boundaries west of the 10th Avenue North and “A” intersection. Staff has already had discussion with Public Services on possible improvements east of the Lake Worth sign.

A Maintenance of Traffic (MOT) advisory is currently being approved by the City regarding a partial closure at “A” and 10th. Once approved, I will send this to the Board and it will be posted accordingly.

North “A” Street at 10th Ave will be closed 4/20-24/09 for water line repair. It will be closed all week. The attached MOT shows the proposed route. Please note the traffic will need to go to Dixie Hwy in order to get back to I-95. No left turns will be possible coming from the south onto 10th Ave North. Please feel free to forward this e-mail to anyone who you feel needs this information. Thanks for your patience.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Swimmer drowns after rescue attempts at Lake Worth beach

Click title for link to Channel 5 story - the drowning happened after 6 p.m. once lifeguards had left.

Here's more direct from the Sheriff's office:

Date: 4/13/09
Time: 6:30pm
Location: Lake Worth Beach

10 S. Ocean Blvd

Lake Worth
Circumstances: On 4/13/09 at about 6:30 pm the Palm Beach County Sheriffs Office received a 911 call from a citizen at Lake Worth Beach. The caller advised there was a b/m swimmer that appeared to be in distress in the water. The swimmer was located about 200 yards north of the pier about 200 yards away from shore. A Good Samaritan, a 15 year old black male, went into the water to assist the swimmer. As this was taking place PBSO, City of Lake Worth Fire Rescue, and Palm Beach County Fire Rescue units arrived on scene. Emergency personnel were advised by the Good Samaritan that he saw the victim flailing his arms and screaming for help in the water. He said he swam out to the victim and tried to bring him back to shore. The Good Samaritan relayed that the victim told him his legs were cramped up and he had a hard time staying up. The Good Samaritan said he was having trouble swimming back to shore with the victim who was panicking. The Good Samaritan advised he had to let go of the victim or he would have gone under as well.
Another Good Samaritan, a w/m with a red/white surf board, attempted to locate the victim in the water. He was unsuccessful. A brief search took place via PBSO Marine Unit and the PBSO helicopter. The helicopter found the victim a short distance from where he was last seen above the water. Fire Rescue personnel pulled the victim out of the water and onto shore.
Currently there is a death investigation underway. PBSO detectives and crime scene personal are on scene. The Medical Examiner has been notified. No identification has been made as of yet on the victim. He is described as a black male approximately 5’9, 160lbs, shoulder length dreads, wearing white/blue Adidas shorts. He had a green bandana around his head.
The 15 year old Good Samaritan was taken to Bethesda Medical Center by his family. He swallowed a lot of water that made him feel ill. He is expected to be okay.

Important meeting tomorrow 4/14 at Compass Community Center - 6 p.m.

Tri-City Commission/CRA/P&Z
Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 6:00 PM
The purpose of this tri-workshop meeting with the City Commission/CRA/P&Z is to discuss the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council Transportation Plan.

Location: Compass Community Center
201 North Dixie Highway
Lake Worth, FL

Click title for back-up - this is a RARE meeting between the Planning and Zoning Board, Community Redevelopment Agency and the City Commission. We will be reviewing the recommendations of the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council report on Transit Oriented Development. The report contains many other items in addition to the main topic - worth the read if you haven't done so yet. After this meeting, another is planned between the Planning and Zoning Board and the City Commission - regarding the Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Regulations which are a product of the now long-in-the-tooth master planning process.

No Back-up Information Available from City's Website re Meeting Tonight on "Recommended" Beach Plan

You'll learn more here by reading this blog than you will by attempting to get information from the city. Again, I am unable to make the meeting tonight due to previous business engagement.

Re-post from 3/24 - the last time the City Commission discussed building placement - build v. rehab at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday.

Commissioner Mulvehill wants Straticon to give an estimate of the cost of construction - how is that an unbiased assessment? Much confusion about how big the building will be and if there is rehabilitation versus reconstruction - new building.

This is not news by any means. What is news to the Commission and something that they are not hearing is that to determine a "solid" cost to rehabilitate the building is not really possible.

They also don't seem to be focusing on the time factor. What seems to be a unifying theme is that the Fishkind study is preliminary at best, not that helpful in its current form and does not compare apples-to-apples - all things with which I agree.

Jeff Hardin of Straticon is going to work with Fishkind to generate "more precise" - read: more favorable for rehabilitation than new construction - estimates. Ends driven report on the way, apparently.

Commissioner Jennings left the phone connection at 1:20 p.m.

Shoring contractor item is an "invitation to bid" - not a "request for proposals." Estimated costs come to $40 to $70K to shore up the building. $20,000 has been spent on the shoring plans already and the architect/structural engineer is responding to comments from the building department. They want a technical memorandum and a threshold inspector will be needed through out the shoring construction period - could be disruptions of service - will need an inspection every 6 months. Staff's opinion is that the building needed to be closed to the public and evacuated. The only reason it will be open after 3/31 is due to the city going ahead with the shoring plan. Commissioner Lowe thinks this will be it - that's all that will be done to the building - Mayor Clemens seems concerned about the total cost.

Meeting ended at 1:40 p.m.

Comparison of existing conditions to "recommended" Michael Singer site plan - City Commission meeting today at 5:30 p.m.

Not too much difference between the two conditions. What the city would gain is more interior landscaping in the parking lot and a little more green-ish space by the seawall - in exchange for moving parking further to the west. No where is there a percentage comparison of green space between the existing and proposed plans. That should be a requirement in order to judge the benefits of the "recommended" plan. Does this plan represent a project worth $15 million (very low estimate if rehabilitation of the existing casino building is part of the task) or $25 million if you are realistic about the rehab cost of the existing building and the site work.

Is this the best we can do? Even though others would like you to believe that building placement is not that big an issue - it is.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Communication with Tom Wranke re Beach Plan

Hi Wes, (My responses highlighted)

I have some input for you regarding the work Singer Studios has done.

I had the opportunity to talk with Jason on a lengthy telephone call.

Tomorrow's meeting was scheduled two weeks ago by the City Commission, and they instructed Singer Studios not to address the location of the Casino building. So I can see no secrecy in what the city is doing, nor any problem with the concept drawings not including the Casino building.

If it was scheduled two weeks ago, then why doesn't anyone know about it and why isn't it prominently on the city's website? Being a site planner - both on the creation end and the reviewing end - I have a major problem in not considering other placement of a building - as a new building is likely less expensive to build. It would also be more functional as modern needs like loading spaces, fire access, dumpster areas should all be considered. To not do so is giving the city an incomplete product. The decision has not been made. If it has already been made, then this is a charade and the public should be aware of it.

The dune is the high point of the island at this beach. No question about that. The back side of the dune has been changed over the years, but to call the high point of the island at our beach "the dune" is completely accurate in geologic and oceanographic terms.

Can you agree with me that the area to the west of the "hill" or "former dune line" - I'll go that far - was filled in as shown in this postcard from the time?

A traffic circle at the north end is one option that is on the table. One good reason for it is to allow buses to avoid driving the entire loop to drop off and pick up. Diesel fumes or buses blocking the view do not add much for the shoppers or beach goers. But the plan can be changed, so please provide your comments so they can be considered.

I see it as a sort of "confusion corner" - like the one in downtown Stuart. I am not sure of the turning radii at this scale, but I am not sure that a bus could make that turn north bound and if it is going southbound then are we saying that there is two way traffic here? Is that a permanent condition? I do not think a changeable circulation pattern is practical or safe even.

Parking on the south lot will be moved further from the ocean, and as a frequent user of that area for 40 years, I have no problem walking another 100 feet, especially with all the improvements planned for that 100 feet. And the first row of parking will face the ocean, a big improvement from what we have now.

You and I may not mind this, but there are others with very strongly held opinions that this represents a problem. I note that this parking area would be a likely candidate for a new building, as well. If that is the option the city chooses - a new building - then we need to know the implications in this area of the site.

The miscellaneous buildings are shade structures, because people did not want all the miscellaneous buildings described in some previous plans. One restroom facility was added on the south end, and I for one would appreciate not having to walk all the way to the pool to use the john. No other enclosed buildings are in Singer's designs.

These are all seaward of the coastal construction control line and seaward of the existing building - all of which represent problems for me and I am sure the State of Florida will be interested too. As well as the required upgrading of the existing building - pilings under the building, 140 mph windload requirements, ADA accessibility and bathroom issues, etc.

Unloading gear from diagonal parking spaces is easier and safer than other alignments.

Would you care to demonstrate?

Money for utilities has been discussed extensively between Singer Studios, city staff and Kimley Horn. Big ticket utility items have been discussed at length, and will be detailed at tomorrow's meeting so the public can have their say. From that point the Commission will direct Singer Studio and city staff on how to proceed.

I think what is going to be discovered is that the costs for those basic improvements - ones that are not seen or appreciated aesthetically to a great degree - will result in the minimal improvements represented on this plan.

The diagonal trail is being designed to ADA specifications. The direct sidewalk with steps remains.

1" rise for every 12" linear distance.

Placing design plans on the website for Singer Studios would present drawings that would immediately be considered "final", no matte how they were labeled. I'm sure they are aware of that, and I'm sure they will post drawings when designs are approved. Posting numerous "ideas" would cause people to jump to conclusions. I have already seen numerous drawings which have been modified based on stakeholder input, so I do not believe any tentative drawings should be posted until the Commission directs Singer Studios to post them. Hundreds of citizens have provided detailed comments, and I can see that those comments are being included in the drawings.

These designs clearly say DRAFT in big red letters. I am always in favor of erring on the side of providing more information whenever and wherever possible - dates of April 7 and 8 indicate that an effort could have been made to #1 promote the meeting and #2 get additional input from a wider section of the community. I am attempting to do my part.

I'm looking forward to the meeting tomorrow, and I am convinced that Singer Studios has already provided the city with an efficient, cost effective process for getting a plan to the County quickly, as required by the City Commission.

I see no reason to think otherwise.

I do think otherwise.

All the best,

Tom Warnke

The PB Post gets a little carried away in this article on the proposed noise ordinance...

Click title for link. I lived downtown for four years in the 500 block of 1st Avenue South. I was one that didn't mind the noise of the downtown coming from the commercial businesses. In fact, I remember being more bothered by what seemed to be constant sirens from fire trucks and police cars than noise from music, etc. But that is me and I understand that others may be more sensitive to this or might live in an area that might be in a position to receive more noise.

However, this sort or writing is a little bit over the top for this issue - my opinion.

The ordinance proposed for the downtown business area would set a maximum noise level of 85 decibels from 6 p.m. until 3 a.m. and 65 decibels from 3 a.m. until 6 p.m. Measurements would be taken from the property line of the noise-generating property. The proposed ordinance also would allow enforcement without meters if the noise can be "clearly heard" 200 feet from the property line of the sound-generating property.

Prolonged or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause gradual hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

The issue here is not ear damage due to prolonged exposure outside to noise - it's about disturbing sleep or being a nuisance. It doesn't rise to creating fear about hearing loss if you live in or around downtown.

Can we ratchet down the hysteria a little, please?

Please E-mail or Call your Mayor and Commissioners

About the BEACH workshop meeting tomorrow night at 5:30 p.m. and how this is coming with very little notice. Please tell them how you feel about the proposed plan and plead for more opportunity for meaningful public input. I've given some ideas of what I find lacking in this recommendation - please add your own comments. I've sent them copies of the two posts that I made earlier on the recommended plan.

Answers to un-asked questions re the beach?

These are different traffic circulation and parking scenarios as suggested my Michael Singer Studios. Again, these would be subject to change should the city elect to build a new casino building rather than re-do the old. No consideration for placement of a new building was part of their task.

This will be presented at the SURPRISE meeting on Monday at 5:30 p.m. I don't know if the city could really handle this much flexibility in traffic flow - I think just having the various options would usher in chaos. But, maybe that is what some elected officials want.

Where is the art in these plans? Didn't we hire Michael Singer Studios without competitively bidding the work because "No one could do what they do?" - Commissioner Cara Jennings. Look at the site plan again in the previous post on this meeting - is this plan worth $5 million of county money and additional city time and investment? Is it worth the time and $25,000 we paid to have them put this together? Does this entice the County Commission to allow us to keep the $5,000,000?

What will the site work cost?