Friday, April 15, 2011

OH MY! Something I didn't see the following screen grab closely!

Notice McVoy hunched over in a classic texting position but look what's on Mulvehill's laptop screen!  Yikes.

Seriously, this is a PhotoShop - done by the inimitable ex-patriate blogger Tom McGow.  Worth more than a few giggles.  He does identify an interesting problem in that all the members of Commission use laptops now during meetings - a potential enforcement problem if the ban of outside communication is actually adopted.

ACLU of Florida names Reps. Jeff Clemens and Alan Williams ‘Defenders of Freedom’

Our former Mayor at work. I guess its easier to actually do something in Tallahassee rather than in Lake Worth. Click title for link.


Dear Lake Worth Neighbors, Friends and Team Members,

First please note that there are three major teams in the City of Lake Worth Zone. (See contact information below!!!)

All of us need additional volunteers and we hope that you will volunteer for one of the groups with in the many different area's and regions of the Great City of Lake Worth!!! There really is something for everyone for this Great American Clean Up organized by Keep Palm Beach County Beautiful or! We have the 5th Year Beach Clean Up Team GO CAROLYN!!!! The Snook Island Kayak Team GO IAN!!!! and the City of Lake Worth Neighborhood Team GO NAPC!!!!!

This is a chance for us as a city to SHINE and SHOW our true nature as citizens, that all of us care about our city and we want Lake Worth to be absolutely Beautiful and Litter Free! Please take this opportunity to send this promotional email out to anyone you know that would love to volunteer at one of the Three Zones and contact the coordinators as listed! This Year lets CELEBRATE Lake Worththrough the Great American Clean Up and push this event to the limits EVERY YEAR AFTER!

Carolyn has been doing this event going on her 5th Year with Highland Elementary and so many others! The Kiwanis had an event just a few weeks ago and IAN with Kayaks Lake Worth will be back at the Snook Islands on April 16th! The Neighborhood Association Presidents Council is Proud to sponsor the Neighborhoods of Lake Worth and we already have commitments from Downtown Jewel, Mango Groves, The First Tee's with PBSO D14, ROLOH, Bridges in Genesis and Tropical Ridge! Now is the time to form your own group and join this great movement!

If you want to volunteer but don't have a Group PLEASE join the Lake Worth Beach Group or With Water Craft Join the Kayak Lake Worth Group at the Snook Islands or It would be our pleasure to assign you to a neighborhood group. If you have a group and want to pick an area we can do that to!!!

Carolyn, Ian and myself are so happy to be coordinating the Lake Worth events this year for the Great City of Lake Worth andTomorrow on April 5th at 6PM the City of Lake Worth will be announcing a Proclamation for the Event and we hope that everyone can attend and Applaud and Cheer our City Leaders for embracing such a great cause!

Here is the contact information for each group and PLEASE pass this email on to all your email lists and post on your blogs! Lets make this the BIGGEST Yet and Build from hear!

Lake Worth Beach start time 8:30 a.m.
Meet at Lake Worth Beach bus stop shelter on promenade along beach - south side of Kreusler Park.
Volunteer Coordinator: Carolyn Deli (561) 586-4999
Managed by Highland Elementary's Community Spirit Group, Patrols and Girl Scouts

Lake Worth Lagoon Estuary - Bryant Park north to Snook Islands waterway then north to John's Island - kayak group
Meet at Bryant Park ***Must have your own kayak to participate
Volunteer Coordinator: Ian Esplin (561) 307-1733
Managed by Kayak Lake Worth

City of Lake Worth Neighborhoods Cleanup Start Time as decided by Neighborhood
Volunteer Coordinator: Robert Waples (561) 909-8708
Managed by the City of Lake Worth Neighborhood Association

With a key you unlock this door of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sight, a dimension of sound, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas real and unreal. You've just crossed over into... the Twilight Zone.

Is Commissioner McVoy channeling Cara Jennings and others from the Interwebs?

Commissioner Christopher McVoy
When you view the WPBF segment on the City Manager's evaluation, check out what Commissioner Chris McVoy is doing at the 1:29 mark (click title for link.)  He is clearly using his phone and touching the keys in a certain sequence.  As the meeting is clearly still in session, I doubt that he is placing a phone call.  He is most likely texting.  If so, the question becomes to whom and from whom is he communicating?

We elect certain personalities which have taken human form and that represent themselves during their campaign with a name.  That name appears on the ballot, along with others, and we choose that personage to represent us in making decisions related to the government of our city.  If there is communication going on behind the scenes within the electronic sphere during a City Commission meeting, the public has a right to know about it - the content of the communication and who is on the other end of that conversation.  Are the thoughts being expressed those of an elected Commissioner or are they someone else's?

Since the meeting on Wednesday night, I have heard other reports of the use of an iPad or other device during Commission meetings by Commissioner McVoy.  It seems highly conincidental after the use of that device that Commissioner McVoy comes up with a series of new questions related to the matter at hand.  Some of the questions and issues sound not-so-vaguely like the thoughts of former Commissioner Cara Jennings.  Interestingly, I have also heard of some "veiled attempts" by the Commissioner to shield the screen from others at the table or the dais during his use of the device.

This issue is not a new one.  Back in April of 2009 - before the seating of the "Best Commission Ever," Commissioner Mulvehill brought up banning of the use of electronic devices for communication during Commission meetings.  This was to apply to members of the City Commission and discussion even extended to the general public for a while.  This later effort didn't go anywhere, but the banning of use of electronic devices by the Commission passed 4-1 with then Mayor Clemens dissenting.  Here is the section of that meeting's minutes that deal with this issue.

Through the motion, the City Attorney was charged with preparing a resolution banning the use of certain devices.  I cannot find when this made it back on the Commission agenda as an actual resolution.  If you can help me find it, please point in out in the comments section below or send me an e-mail.  

This is a BIG issue that has serious Sunshine Law implications.  If those communications relate to city business, they are subject to the state's open records law.  Wouldn't that be interesting!

I also hear now that Commissioner Mulvehill is trying to help one of the only Commissioners with a full-time regular job to be able to attend meetings by phone when there is a "job related" schedule conflict.  My problem with use of the "Commissioner-on-speaker-phone" is that you never know if that Commissioner is alone or surrounded by one or more people coaching.  We also don't know if they are actually listening to the proceedings - or just hanging out for a certain vote.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on this issue.

Scott's lawyer admits he gave Fla. Supreme Court wrong info in high-speed rail argument

The gist of this is that Governor Scott operated under the mistaken belief that the state had already spent the bulk of money already allocated to the high speed rail project, which gave him more authority to pull the plug the 2.4 billion dollars of federal money. Click title for link to article. It will be a very long four years...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lake Worth to add high-tech parking meters

The city spray painted yellow numbers on each parking space at the beach. The same parking lot that is about to be torn up and made more black by new asphalt for fossil fuel burning vehicles. Note the cabal spin re the "high-tech solar parking meters." Thanks Willie - do you need new kayak paddles? Click title for link. Here's a clip of a person who made famous the term: "giant sucking sound."

The Marriage of Mass Transit and Locally-sourced Produce!

Great American Cleanup Reminder 4/16/11

Dear Neighbors,
Just a reminder that the Great American Cleanup is this Saturday morning, April 16th, from 9am - 12pm. We'll be meeting at the Northwest corner of 4th Avenue north and F Street (403 N F St.).  We'll have water avaiable but please bring your own sunblock.  T-shirts will be provided for participants (see attached picture). If you would like your t-shirt before Saturday, please email me at and I'll drop it off at your home.  If you have any questions please let me know.
If you are not in the Tropical Ridge Neighborhood and would like to participate you are very welcome to come get a free t-shirt and join in the effort to keep our town beautiful!
Tropical Ridge Neighborhood Association

In my travels around town this morning...

I helped a friend take his bike to the bike shop for miscellaneous repairs.  He happens to live in the southern part of West Palm Beach.  I am currently using a large vehicle capable of holding a bike easily, so I agreed to help him out.  His favorite place to take his bike was Lake Worth Bicycles at the corner of 2nd Avenue South and Dixie Hwy.  I brought my bike a few times there for work and they are very reasonable. When my friend went in to the shop, he immediately asked where the younger guy that used to do the repairs was.  The owner said he had to let him go - that business had been off recently.  He also said that he has had to cut off electricity to the front part of the store because he can't afford what is an extremely large utility bill if he keeps it on.  Which got me to thinking the general public may not realize that the store is open when the lights are off - even during the day.  This can compound the problem.  He used to rent bikes - but has stopped doing that since there isn't the demand that there was at one time.  And then this made me think about the relative attractiveness of our city versus others and why their might be a reluctance on the part of some to rent bikes for use in the city.

With gasoline soon headed over $4.00 a gallon, if not already, perhaps his business will pick up as people switch to alternative modes of transportation that don't rely on a gas pump.  It's also another reminder that it is important to support local businesses and to make sure that we remain an attractive tourist destination.

I must say that the owner of this business treated my friend very well.  He promised his bike will be ready Saturday - today is Thursday.  So he wouldn't be without a bike, he let him take a bike that he used to rent out along with a  $25 lock (sold it to my friend for $10) to use with it to prevent it from being stolen - the use of the bike was free of charge.  If you are in need of a bike or repairs, I would encourage you to drop by and support his business.

What's happening with the Gulf Stream hotel, anyway?  Maybe we should ask for a report from the City Commission.  I wonder if our former Commissioner Cara Jennings' bookings at her boarding house are above or below last year. Someone should inquire.

We also have the highest commercial electric rates of any utility in the state of Florida.

CRA Chair Cary Sabol defends choice of "L-Dub" versus "LuLa" as the name for the CRA arts program.

The CRA met last Tuesday night and decided to name the arts program name "L-Dub" instead of the previously proposed "LuLa."  "L-Dub" is short for L.W.  There was concern by some in the community about its origins in gang slang and other urban slang references.  Here, in an e-mail to a concerned resident, Mr. Sabol explains the reasons for his vote.

Dear Anna Maria,

I appreciate that you are interested enough in this issue to contact our Board about the recent naming of our arts program.  I had hoped there would be more public input, so your opinions are greatly appreciated.  Regardless of which option we choose, there will always be some members of our community who would have preferred a different outcome.  This is the nature of democracy.  It may not be a perfect system of government, but it's all we have and has historically proven to be the most fair and equal system of governing to date.  

Anyhow, since I did vote in favor of L Dub, I can tell you what my thoughts on this issue are, but please understand that I do not speak for any other members of the Board or CRA Staff.  First, you are correct that L Dub began as a slang term.  But at the same time, it is a reference to Lake Worth that has existed for many years and is now commonly known throughout the community and beyond.  It is a reference to Lake Worth that has arisen naturally and organically, rather than by force, which is how an arts program should develop.  Regardless of its origins, L Dub has now become a mainstream reference to our great City of Lake Worth.  As such, any negative connotations have already been greatly dissipated and I believe that our use of this term will further deflate the negative connotations that L Dub may have.

Moreover, it is my belief that the best way to quash the negativity surrounding a word or phrase is to reject the negative reference, own it, and turn it upside down until what was once considered negative will no longer be.  The fact that some still consider L Dub as a put down of Lake Worth further supports my reasoning for voting in favor of it.  We should take control of L Dub and transform it into what we want it to be -- a symbol of the cultural and artistic personality that makes Lake Worth the city we all love so much.

I am sure LULA could have been a great name for our program as well as an infinite number of other options.  However, our Board, by majority, voted to name the program L Dub and we can now, finally move forward with this program and continue to increase Lake Worth's reputation as an artistic destination.  I am confident that as this program develops and once we have taken the term L Dub away from those who use it to criticize and tear down the reputation of our City, you will realize that L Dub was, in fact, the best choice.

Once again, thank you for your input.  I hope that you will now redirect your energy towards making this program a success rather than remaining focused on the outdated connotation that L Dub once had.  I encourage you to contact me anytime and to provide any ideas you may have to help our arts program succeed.

Cary Sabol

Lake Worth City Manager Has Performance Review - Video - WPBF West Palm Beach

Click title for link. This is the segment that appeared on the Channel 25 Eleven O'clock news. There are a few things to check out in the report. One - is McVoy texting during the meeting? I thought that there was an edict about not doing that during a meeting. Then, Commissioner Golden reassures everyone that a "high C" isn't bad since the City Manager has only been here for two years. She called it a "high C" average since her overall score was 3.5. In my book, a 3.5 would be a "B-plus?" I guess it's been a while since she has been in school. The WPBF video is not embeddable.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A venture of one of my neighbors...Turning hobbies to profit!

I'm an avid reader, and have accumulated hundreds of books over the years. 
To keep in shape, I ride my bicycle at least 10-miles per day, usually to downtown Lake Worth and then over to the beach and back. My bike is outfitted with a large bin on the back to carry things.
In a moment of inspiration, I made some signs to put on the bike, loaded the bin with about 25 unwanted books, and the BOOKCYCLE was born.  
Now everywhere that I go on my bicycle, I'm a mobile used book store. 
The response has been unexpected and fun.  Every time that I go to the beach, tourists ask to have their pictures taken with me and myBOOKCYCLE.  The regulars at the beach appreciate having a nice little selection of good books to read there - and I sell them for only $1.00!  Best of all, my BOOKCYCLE attracts interesting, literate people, which leads to some great conversations. Several people have asked for specific books and authors, so I set up a website, where people can contact me for special requests and local deliveries: 
I've already sold nearly all of my old paperback books, so today, I actually had to buy some more to have stock on hand.  I buy them for only 50 cents, sell them for $1.00, and still make a little profit while I'm getting my daily excercise.
The local Barnes & Noble store is even considering using me and my BOOKCYCLE to do some direct marketing at the beach and local events.
Have fun while making a profit - American capitalism at work, 
Timothy Lunney

From the City Manager's Self-Evaluation

Click title for link to entire document.  These two items relate to what the City Manager feels are her top accomplishments for 2010.  

As far as the Casino reconstruction project, let's remember a few things and think about some new ones.  One, there is an existing lawsuit regarding breaking of the development agreement related to the last attempt at re-doing the Casino building (and the entire property.)  The city, by going ahead with the entire beach project is doing so at its own risk.  The city has been put on notice of this long ago.  Likewise, contractors and other professionals brought in to work on the beach project, are also proceeding at their own risk.  The lawsuit is still in the discovery stage and depositions have yet to happen.  The City has also already spent, at last accounting, over a quarter of a million dollars on legal fees in defense of its position. Thus, before there is any clinking of champagne glasses, the lawsuit needs to be resolved.  It is only then that we can see in clear light the wisdom of the past Commission's action which exited the contract.  Going ahead is a risky venture for a city with little left in reserves and is in a self-declared state of financial urgency.

Now, the financial plan that is mentioned in the above "accomplishment" has not been revised since adjustments have been made to the total square footage of the leaseable area - there is more public common space.  The parking projections, in my opinion, over emphasize increased traffic to the new building which will not be all that different in tenant mix and draw than the current edition - after the novelty wears off.  We have yet to see how the city's contract management systems have been re-engineered.  The project is still in need of a permit for construction seaward of the coastal construction line.  There is the likelihood that the state of Florida DEP may not buy the interpretation that this is a rehabilitation of an existing building - since at least 80% of it is coming down before the new construction starts.  This could trigger changes in the basic structural elements of the building - digging into the million dollar contingency.  Will that be enough?

Furthermore, we just found out at yesterday's work session that the retail spaces' display windows will be darkly tinted - which is not ideal for retail.  Think "window shopping."  Lighting will be dim and amber in color for the turtles and there seems to be a reluctance to have the building open later.  All these factors may affect the financial plan negatively.  Work to update the plan hasn't been done.  So now, until that is done, we are relying on a wish and a prayer that the project will be self-sufficient in real life and not just the political lives of certain Commissioners and a City Manager.

Let's not forget how the project's financing relies on money from the city's "cash portfolio."  This is the same city that finds itself in a state of financial urgency. Permanent financing has not been identified.

The action that broke the contract of the previous project that is the subject of the lawsuit happened in December 2008.   The current City Manager arrived on the scene in April 2009.  Granted, the interlocal agreement with the county had to be amended to reflect the change in nature of the project - removing the private sector participant.  It is my understanding that former Commissioner Jennings was the lead person re-negotiating the agreement - not the city manager.

The City Manager also uses the tired myth of those that support Golden, McVoy and Mulvehill that the former beach project somehow prevented public access to the beach.  This couldn't be farther from the truth, but here in her self-evaluation she uses that to confirm the Troika's myth - bonus points for her from that camp.  However, it doesn't reflect reality or the truth.

All in all, anything at the beach really can't be considered an accomplishment until more of the variables become known quantities.

Commissioners to evaluate Lake Worth City Manager tonight

Click title for link to PBP article about tonight's evaluation of City Manager Stanton. Mayor Varela posted this link on FaceBook this morning. This is a screen shot of the post with my comments. Note that he is encouraging attendance and comment. I thought Commissioner Golden took care of that.
My comments might have been there all of five minutes - he deleted them.  I wonder if he considered it cyber-bullying?
So much for the Commission wanting to hear all of us.

UPDATE:  Somehow, he reposted my comments as it showed as a post made by him in my notifications.
My comments being initially deleted could be a FaceBook glitch.  Interesting comment made by the Mayor.

One of my friends is on FaceBook and plays the game "CityVille"...

It's one of those obnoxious Zynga games that encourages social networking, etc.  Anyway, he lives in Lake Worth - in Lakeside Pointe - and he showed this to me yesterday.  This is a view of the city he has created in "CityVille."  He named it "New Lake Worth."
I had to laugh out loud.  He doesn't seem to know about the three story height limitation.

David Brinkley

"A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

9 a.m. - Listening to City Commission Work Session

Click title for link to live audio.  Rick Gonzalez is talking about the turtle-safe lighting that will be used on the east side of the building - it will have an amber color.  He also said that the windows are required to have a dark tint - which is not ideal for a retail situation.  Commissioner McVoy suggests that hours of operation might be shorter because of this.  Commissioner Golden sees it as a selling point since "we are so in to eco-tourism" - she sees this aspect of the project being a draw - that the building is turtle-friendly.

Rick Gonzalez mentions that it is important to get a commercial leasing agent involved soon. (There were no responses to the revised RFP after releasing Compass Realty Advisors.)

The Mayor says that the shop owners will adapt.  McVoy says the tinting just gives a reduction, it depends what light is inside.  The architects are saying that the actual fixtures and lighting will be LEED certified.  DEP will want to review the tenant lighting. McVoy disagrees that the LEED requirements will meet the turtle requirements.  He thinks the shop owners are going to want to crank the light up.  He likes Commissioner Golden's approach that this is a different building and this should be expected.  McVoy wants night photos of an existing installation along the beach.

Maxwell asked what level of LEED certification would the building would achieve.  Gonzalez responded that it would just be "certified" - the lowest level.

Mulvehill asks about hiring local contractors.  Wants some commitment from Morganti what that would that mean from local workers.  Morganti says that they have engaged the local Chamber of Commerce, advertised local, scoured the "Blue Book" for Lake Worth contractors, etc.

Maxwell asked about the schedule for permitting for the building.  Will the permits be in hand before before we sign off on the Morganti fixed-price contract?  Assistant City Manager essentially says - kind of.  She says that they will not have the building permits in hand - mentions various permits.  The West Palm Beach building official is the acting building official for Lake Worth - still.  The CCCL permit has been submitted - expecting the permit approval by May 2nd.

Lots of talk about the benefits and costs of partitioning the ballroom.

They are now on to the electric system upgrade.  I am going to keep listening, but won't be taking notes, as I am on to something else now.  Please leave comments if you are listening.

Love Letters from Lynn - On the use of the royal "we"...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Conversations with Susan...II

Ms. Plotkin:

There is no staff recommendation at all.  None what so ever.  The Board has already provided their recommendation to the Commission so it was not felt additional information was needed.  You will see, I HAVE NOT MADE A RECOMMENDATION FOR USING THIS MONEY FOR HOUSING. 

Please don’t take my lack of e-mails has anything more than having 651 current messages I have not opened yet this morning. 

Susan A. Stanton, ICMA--CM
City Manager


7 N Dixie Highway
Lake Worth, FL 33460

Ms. Stanton,

I'm sorry you have a large number of emails and I appreciate you taking the time to answer mine. However, I never said that you or staff made a recommendation. What I asked was why the Finance Boards recommendation's were not included in the back-up. There has been much discussion amongst the FAB members as to how and when the Board's recommendations are transmitted to the City Commission. The Board has never received any confirmation that the Commission was properly noticed or in what matter. Given the FAB's recommendations relevance to the CDBG situation, I would think it prudent to remind the members of the City Commission what their advisory board has passed. TWICE. In addition, since the City Commission is not the only group that is interested in the back-up material, I would think the public would really like to know what their Finance Advisory Board has recommended. 

Although you have "NOT MADE A RECOMMENDATION FOR USING THIS MONEY FOR HOUSINGI can only point you to your own Budget Message listing the "Affordable Housing Program utilizing CDBG funds" as one of your very own "Policy Initiatives" to demonstrate your continued support for the program or to your own performance evaluation where you state that "funding such a program is in the best interest of the community."

So please, stop patronizing me and the residents of this City. Especially when they continue to tell you how they want the CDBG money spent and you insist on telling them what they are going to get instead.

Jessica Plotkin

Restaurants, shops told to leave Lake Worth casino building by May 31 for renovations

Click title for link to PBP article - make sure to check the 68 comments (so far, as of time of posting). These quotes stood out from the article:

Three years ago, city officials told casino tenants that the weathered building was structurally unsound and that they would have to leave by March 31. After getting another opinion from building experts, the city allowed the tenants to stay.
"The city cries wolf so often it's hard to believe them," Yarbrough said.
and this from our Vice Mayor:
"It is going to happen because it's supported by a majority of the residents," Vice Mayor Suzanne Mulvehill said. "It's been a 30-year fight. It's historic."

E-mail sent today to Commission and City Administration from Finance Advisory Board member re CDBG application:

Good Morning.

I would like to know why the two recommendations made by the Finance Advisory Board regarding CDBG are NOT included in the back-up material for Thursday's meeting. The motions that passed are as follows:

August 18, 2010 - The Finance Advisory Board recommends that the Commission utilize all outstanding CDBG funds for new construction of sidewalks, traffic calming and roadway improvements in the CDBG target area.

March 29, 2011 - The Finance  Advisory Board recommends to the Commission that it eliminate the Housing Initiative and the CDBG funds be reprogrammed for new construction of parks, sidewalks, traffic calming and roadway improvements in the CDBG target area. In addition, the Board recommends that the Commission eliminate the proposed Housing Manager and reallocate the funds back to the Foreclosure Fund.

Clearly, the Finance Advisory Board DOES NOT support the proposed Housing Initiative and given the abundant evidence, realizes that the funds would be better suited to capital improvement projects in the CDBG area. Essentially, they support GIVING THE PUBLIC WHAT THEY ASKED FOR. There has been some confusion as to how Board motions are transmitted to the Commission for their consideration. Given the relevance of the Board's motions, I would think it is imperative that the Commission be made aware of their own Advisory Board's specific recommendations. 

I look forward to seeing you Thursday night.

PS -  At the very least, it would have been nice and I would have appreciated a ANY response to ANY of my prior emails bringing this issue to the attention of the City.  

Jessica Plotkin

LW Recollections from Down Under...Ye old freak waves at Lake Worth Beach...

They used to happen occasionally.
 Sometimes, it would be a passing ship's wake that intertwined with the incoming tide.
 Other times, it would be from a pile-up of swells from a tropical disturbance or storm many hundreds of miles offshore,
 But once, in 1968, the sea receded for about 5 minutes, out towards the middle of the old wooden pier, and then came a wave about 8'-10' high.  It didn't break & then flatten out; it broke and the water level behind it came up to the seawall, and washed a few towels, chairs, and rubber rafts out.  It happened on a weekday, in the summer.  No one could really explain it.
 I suppose the events in Japan revived that memory.  We also have to deal with the tsunamis here in New Zealand, with the Kermadic Fault, and the Chatham Rise.  The latter caused a 180" tsunami in the 1700's.
 I then thought about the Canary Islands, and the steam volcano that could slide into the Atlantic.  Computer models forecast the islands to the east of the US being wiped-out, and the Eastern Seaboard having massive damage. 
 Which makes me wonder if the Casino Building shouldn't have the first floor pillared and louvered to allow water to pass thru?

Neighborhoods: Northwood Village | Palm Beach Illustrated

The competition has a full spread in Palm Beach Illustrated, click title for link.

Great American Cleanup | 4/16/11

Great American Cleanup
Saturday April 16, 2011
Northwest corner of 4th Avenue North and F Street (403 N F St.)

The City of Lake Worth proclaimed April 16th of each year to be our City’s Great American Cleanup day. In observation of this the Tropical Ridge Neighborhood Association is going to be cleaning up two properties in need of attention: 403 North F Street and 907 North H Street.
At our last meeting more than a dozen TRNA residents volunteered to spend three hours of their weekend beautifying our neighborhood. Please come and join us this upcoming weekend in making Tropical Ridge a place we can all be proud to call home.
Keep America Beautiful's Great American Cleanup is the nation's largest community improvement program. It takes place annually from March 1st through May 31st and involves over 3 million volunteers.  In 2010 hardworking volunteers donated 6 million hours and improved 33,000 communities across America. To learn more please visit

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A day trip worth taking...

First of all, my apologies for letting my life interfere with regular postings here.  It was an unusually busy week and yesterday, Saturday, is usually a day that I can catch up on things - including some  posts here. But yesterday turned out to be the day that the Palm Beach County Planning Congress took a day trip to the Barley Barber swamp near Indiantown.  The trip also included a tour of the recently completed solar hybrid power plant that FPL has nearby.  In fact, the Barley Barber swamp is on property owned by FPL and is surrounded on three sides by the cooling pond for the power plant.  The slideshow above includes pictures from both places.

The Barley Barber swamp was closed after 9/11 for security purposes due to its proximity to the large power plant which supplies power to over 1 million homes.  It reopened last November to the public.  Tours are free and are available from October to May, Wednesday through Sunday - beginning at 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.  Reservations are required and can be made by calling the Seminole Inn in Indiantown.  The property was saved from becoming just a part of the power plant colling pond in 1972 by a group of people that happened to be in the right positions at the right time.  The boardwalk that runs in a figure eight through the 455 acre property was built in 1980.  By walking through the area, it brings you back to a primordial Florida - complete with 900 year old cypress trees to alligators and other wildlife.  It's a very popular attraction for birdwatchers.

The power plant is a hybrid - the largest part of it is fueled by natural gas but it is supplemented by the solar array.  Mirrors concentrate the suns heat on to a pipe with super-heated fluid that in turn runs a turbine, which in turn generates electricity.  Here is a FPL produced video explaining it more:

Being urban planners, we also talked about the relative benefits of utility-scale solar facilities versus "distributed generation."   Distributed generation is where individual homeowners and businesses have installed their own photo-voltaic or solar heating equipment.  There are perspectives on both sides - the utilities obviously favor reliance on the large scale solar facilities as it preserves their revenue from a monopoly on energy generation.  But their large purchasing power does provide economies of scale and drives down the per unit cost of solar equipment, which then creates more favorable return on investment equations which may encourage more individual installations.  Distributed generation is much more of a "Democratic" distribution of power (both electric and political), without the reliance on large super structures - utility companies.  We also discussed the concept of "feed in tariffs" which amount to subsidies to private property owners from government or utilities.  Essentially, the discussion goes like this - if a $250 million power plant is needed, would it make more sense to distribute that money to people who want to install solar equipment on their properties and achieve the same power production without requiring the construction of a conventional power plant.  The distribution of the money would come through a buyback agreement between the utility and the property owner at a higher than market rate - thereby improving the payback equation for the private customer.  The counter argument goes that there might be a part of the public that does not want to have solar equipment on their properties but they would still end up paying for it through higher rates springing from these agreements.  The City of Lake Worth is thinking about such a system.

Anyway, I highly recommend going to tour the swamp - the solar plant tours are limited to organizations and are a little more complicated in terms of releases of liability and the like, so I don't think that is an option for the general public.

Click here for link to City Manager Stanton's self-evaluation.

Commentary coming.  The City Commission will conduct the evaluation this coming Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the City Hall conference room.