Saturday, December 24, 2011

My favorite Christmas hymn...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Lake Worth needs to find a manager, not a toadie

Gag, cough, title for link. The only thing you need to remember from this editorial emanating from the paneled corner offices of the PBP is this:

"Former City Manager Susan Stanton, who had acknowledged faults as a communicator..."

One of the urban dictionary's definitions of a "toadie" is as follows: One who gives selflessly of himself, who's only concern is pleasing his Mistress, with no concern for his own health or well-being. One who's unquestionably sincere devotion to his Mistress is to be applauded, commended and encouraged, and most especially, Rewarded. I suggest you use a different word, but you are on to something.  The person you are alluding to did all these things in the name of his Mistress, which was his downfall.

Other beach parks in Palm Beach County...

Boynton Beach
Kreusler Park
Spanish River

Aerial of our lovely beach "park"...

From "Lynn's Little Bit of Trivia" 12/23/11

Gift from the City of Lake Worth

What makes up your utility bill.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jared Diamond in "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed"

"The values to which people cling most stubbornly under inappropriate conditions are those values that were previously the source of their greatest triumphs over adversity."


Thank you Ms. Margoles for posting the new date for the Shuffleboard Court planning meeting and thank you also for using that name.  It is January 25th at 6 p.m.  I also received an e-mail from Mr. Waters notifying us that the Tri-Meeting between the City Commission, Planning and Zoning and Historic Resource Preservation Boards regarding the land development regulations (LDRs) is rescheduled to January 26th at 5:30 p.m - in the Commission Chambers.

Yesterday, I chatted on the telephone with the leader of the Lake Worth Shuffleboard Club - he said that they had moved on from Lake Worth and are now playing at some courts in Boynton Beach.  He also said that the City treated them like (insert obscene slang term for feces here) and had little good to say about our former City Manager.  He was pleased to see her gone.  It looks like if people are going to use our shuffleboard courts, it will need to be a new group of people.  Talk about fouling your nest...

And a little gift for those who use Google Chrome as your browser.  There is an extension available that allows you to hover over images and automatically zooms in to them for you - without having to click on the image to make it larger.  I just installed it this morning and I am finding it very useful.

For those in a New York state of mind this holiday season...

Best in full screen mode

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

He couldn't make last night's meeting, but...

He can still post things on FaceBook today.

Everybody dance!

From the "This and That" file...

As I was packing up to leave the Commission Chambers, the City Commission was considering an item related to the two-way/one-way issue of 2nd Avenue North.  Staff presented the Commission with four options, which included temporarily returning the road back to a one-way condition from Dixie to A Street.  When Publix was originally approved and in order to accommodate entry and a workable parking lot configuration, the Planning Board and City Commission approved making 2nd Avenue two-way between Dixie and J Street.  That is the way the street is stripped now and the way the signal was re-designed and installed at 2nd Avenue North and Dixie.  After the building was built, it was further decided by the City Commission that the entire length of 2nd Avenue North should be two-way - from A to Federal.  Stripping for the two-way was completed west of the FEC tracks and signs were posted that it was indeed a two-way street.  That left a situation where the FEC crossing was unprotected for left bound traffic - that is why traffic has been blocked from going over the tracks for some time now.

This is where the city thought they were operating in a vacuum.  The city made this unilateral decision - a good one to make the street two-way, but doing it the wrong way - without consulting with the Florida Department of Transportation, FEC RR, Palm Beach County.  Permits are needed to do this - not just a city worker and a stripping machine.  It turns out the original cost communicated to the Commission, according to Commissioner Mulvehill, was around $45,000.  She pointed out that the real cost, according to the back-up material they were looking at last night, was closer to $300,000.  She was very quick to lay the blame at the feet now-departed Joe Kroll.  She did this in a way to say "Just in case you ever think you are going to hire him back..." - at least that's what was implied.

Come to find out, the new TD Bank that is going in on the southeast corner of 2nd Avenue North and Dixie has gone through site plan approval which assumes a two-way traffic pattern and Chase is looking to do a new branch location at the southwest corner of the same intersection.  There was a representative there last night who said that they would not consider locating there if the street was one-way - which lends credibility to the decision and shows that, in the long run, a two-way 2nd Avenue North, along with the new Publix, is attracting redevelopment.  Imagine that!

I pointed out in public comment that this situation resulted from an inadequately staffed and professionally challenged planning staff at the time of the original review of Publix - that is when this could easily have been dealt with in the proper way, with full review by all the applicable agencies.  It might have even been part of the original package which landed Publix at this new location in the first place.  So, the result is to open the road again as a one-way west of Dixie and wait until the permitting and money is in place to improve the RR crossing - which will be sometime in FY 2013.  I encouraged the Commission to leave the positions that are in the budget for additional planning staff in place in order to prevent things like this from happening in the future.

Then, walking out the door and down the hallway outside the Commission Chambers, Kathleen Margoles came up behind me to let me know that the city is going ahead with a study/examination of the seawall at the beach!  She said that the OIG said that just a visual inspection was o.k. (what do they know?)  I told her that I was aware that the OIG was backing off having the city do a study of the seawall, why I didn't know.  But, I was impressed that the city is finally going ahead and performing a study of it and I was surprised with the special effort shown by Ms. Margoles in informing me of the status of this.  Perhaps things are changing for the better after all??

Also, I want to let you all know that I had an interview with a reporter from the Wall Street Journal.  She is doing a story which will appear after the first of the year on shuffleboard courts in Florida.  I told her about the plight that ours face here in Lake Worth and referred her to Juan Ruiz for more details related to the condition of the courts and what is needed to make them playable.   I still have not heard of a time that the charette on the building or the courts has been rescheduled to - I will let you know if I do.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Live from City Commission Meeting 12/20

McVoy not present.  No presentations.Many people here publicizing the Haitian Tree Walkathon this coming 14th of January.  Proceeds will be used to plant 300,000 fruit trees in honor of those that died in Haiti during the January 2010 earthquake.  Charlotte Taylor is here indoctrinating the new Commission and reminding them of her lawsuits against the city.  Lynn Anderson and Lawrence McNamara ask that the minutes reflect public comment where they currently aren't now.  Clerk Pam Lopez says that the minutes changed a few years ago to the "industry standard" and that the audio from the City Commission is available on line from 2006 forward.  They are considering "tagging" the audio to mark different sections for easier reference.

Public hearings re fire assessment and street light assessment.  Carr is introducing the item - staff checked to see if it is possible to extend the date to February 21st.  Staff continues to meet with the Commission on varius budget reduction suggestions.  These will come before the Commission - the reductions - will be on the January 24th Commission agenda.  The items tonight are to approve the continuation of the item to 2/21 date certain.  Maxwell points out that advertising for this item took place under the previous City Commission and this keeps every option open in case they are unable to find items to cut that would counter-balance the lack of these assessments.  Motion passes unanimously - 4-0 (McVoy not present).  The second item is the same only relates to the street light assessment.  Motion on the street lights also passed 4-0.

Beach casino finance discussion.  This lays out the full and entire project cost - including the casino, the beach improvement project and utilities related to each.  There is a full presentation and then they will take questions.  This presentation consists of slides of what is in the agenda packet.  Carr - beach project has different meanings for different people and now we are looking at it in its entirety.  Ms. Mattey is talking about the utilities while the projection and computer system boots up for the presentation.  She says that the upgrade for the electric necessary is considered a cost of business and what the city is doing there is the same as it would be for any other business.  Sewer and lift station is out-of-date and will cost just over half a million and the city will be self-sufficient with sewer.  Water to the beach is provided by the City of West Palm Beach - not the city.  It will be metered - the utility will assume the charges from West Palm and act as a pass through from the tenants to the city.  They will need to create a water supply district to cover all of the costs at the beach.  There are capital improvements for water at the beach - they can be capitalized or included in the special overlay charge.  Their recommendation is go blend the cost into the overlay district.  Rate consultants will be called in early in January.

The projection system and computer are not working and they are reading from the back-up item.  Beach redevelopment is 5.8 million  and the casino  building is 6,5 million dollars.  Total cost is $13.5 million.  Still estimated costs are the lighting - they are assuming $800,000 for lighting.  The remainder are utility costs that would be capital costs.  $5 million from the County, $ 6 million as a loan from the city for the casino construction.  $1.2 million in cash contribution came from the city initially to front end some of the expenses which would be reimbursed by the County.  $450,000 or so was appropriated to REG Architects for architectural services for the casino building.  I will pull out these numbers from the back-up and double check them tomorrow.  Carr is going over the sources of money for all aspects, including the infrastructure improvements.  This is not an action item - for discussion only.

Maxwell asks about the utility upgrades.  He asks if the casino building could be able to open without them.  Mattey says that the water and sewer would be a problem and the electric would require underground service.  He points out that it was always represented as a $6 million building costs when it is more in the range of $8 million.   The cash portfolio would be recovered but there was lost interest - cost of the internal borrowing - was the equivalent of the the interest that the city would have made had it not been used for the beach project.  Carr says that is included in the casino business plan.  There is another number of around $200,000 that should be included in the total cost which represents lost interest.  He asks about tenant improvements - and if the city is on the line for any of those - Margoles says no, they are getting a vanilla box.  The broker cost is part of the beach business plan - and is an expense of around $200,000.  Carr says that they are operating costs.  Maxwell says that the Commission and the administration billed this as a $6 million project and he sees it as another $2.5 million plus - and we need to include that in the discussion regarding the tenant leases.  He says that these costs need to be included otherwise the city would end up subsidizing the businesses up there - he doesn't want it swept under the rug.  Mulvehill asks how much we saved over a construction loan - Carr says it is in the range of $400 to $500,000 more expensive with a construction loan.  She thinks that is great.  She asks how much we spent for Publix for infrastructure - Mattey says that is processed through their regular accounts for electric.  For sewer, it is part of the long term capital plan for the utility and when you are re-doing the parking lot, that would be the ideal time to do it.

Amoroso asks about the situation with West Palm Beach - is there a reason they are not willing to  give us a bulk rate?  Mattey says it really a situation where we are a retail customer with a meter - they are not willing to do it another way.  Each tenant will pay their own water - and they will pay a special "beach" rate.  Agrees that infrastructure needs to be done now and it has to be coordinated..  Carr says that the short period of time for the internal borrowing was minimal for the city - if it were a longer term, it would have been inadvisable and would be a risk that the city couldn't take - like for 20 years.  Mulvehill reminds everyone that the city is reimbursing the cost of the lost interest and that it is part of the business operating plan for the beach.  Maxwell points out that the infrastructure cost is taking away from other projects that could be done in the city.  Carr says we are entering a new era where staff will be much more forthcoming with information.   They are talking about what is and what was not included in the capital improvements

FYI - I left the meeting around 8:45 p.m.

Oren Arnold

"Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect."

Cultural council moves into former Lake Worth art museum

Yea! Click title for link to PBP article. Thank you CRA for having the foresight and where-with-all to secure this fine institution and promotional agency in our downtown and in one of our historic buildings. BRAVO!!

The late Václav Havel on preservation...

As many are likely aware, this past weekend Václav Havel died at the age of 75. He led ‘the Velvet Revolution’ that in 1989 defeated authoritarian communism in Czechoslovakia.  A recipient of the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom, he was the tenth and lastpresident of Czechoslovakia and the first President of the Czech Republic.

In 2010 Václav Havel spoke at a forum on architecture and commented on community, growth, and preservation.  Some of his comments offer a perspective on many of the issues that presently face Palm Beach.

They follow below:

“What was until recently clearly recognizable as the community is now losing its boundaries and with them its identity. It has become a huge overgrown ring of something I can’t find a word for. It is not a community as I understand the term, nor suburbs, let alone a village. Apart from anything else it lacks streets or squares. There is just a random scattering of enormous single-storey warehouses, supermarkets, hypermarkets, car and furniture marts, petrol stations, eateries, gigantic car parks, isolated high-rise blocks to be let as offices, depots of every kind, and collections of family homes that are admittedly close together but are otherwise desperately remote.

Why should a developer worry about whether his building suits the locality in which it is built, so long as it be reached by the shortest route and it is possible to build a gigantic car park alongside it? What is to him that between his site and his neighbor’s there is a wasteland? And what is to him, after all, that from an airplane the city more and more resembles a tumor metastasizing in all directions and that he is contributing to it? Why should he get worked up over a few dozen hectares that he carves out of the soil that many still regard as the natural framework of their homeland?

The designers’ civilization in which we live is one of the many secondary consequences of that modern-era pride whereby people believe they have understood everything and they can therefore completely plan the world.

Wonder and an awareness that things are not self-evident are, I believe, the only way out of the dangerous world of a civilization of pride.

It is necessary to wonder. And it is necessary to worry about the non-self-evidence of things.” 

Alexander C. Ives
Executive Director
Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach
311 Peruvian Avenue
Palm Beach, Florida 33480

Monday, December 19, 2011

Do you think they got an e-mail from Annabeth Karson?

Or did they read Lynn's blog?

Be on the look-out! From a neighbor...

We just got robbed. Two young males grabbed two lava rock foo dogs from our front porch and a small Buddha statue from the front yard. They sped away in an old, white Dodge passenger van, plate number 937 MVE (FL) with a whole bunch of other guys inside. Everybody was dressed in black from head to toe. PBSO is on the case. Other than that, it's been a nice day!

Florida House redistricting ideas for Palm Beach County lean Democratic

Click title for link to PBP article. Nothing is final yet regarding the ultimate redistricting. This is from the article:

"State Rep. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, would see his District 89 carved beyond recognition in all the House proposals. Nearly all of Lake Worth, where Clemens was once mayor, is in District 89 now. But city residents would be thrown into three or four House districts under each of the initial plans. Despite the possibility that much of his political base will be splintered, Clemens says he plans to run somewhere in 2012."

Dear Leader Dead

Sunday, December 18, 2011

We can add a City Manager to the list...

Lake Worth won't use recruitment firm to find new city manager

Click title for link to PBP article about the meeting yesterday. If you read Ms. Anderson's account of the meeting, you would be right to worry about her continued peace-of-mind. Please keep her in your prayers.