Saturday, March 2, 2013

Editorial: Reject plan to reduce height limits in Lake Worth |

Mr. Marra sees the light through the fog.  There is a strong rational argument for a "no" vote on the height issue and he highlights the key points in this editorial.  Click title for link.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Daily Affirmation #13 - "Vote Yes - We know what we don't want to be but don't know what we want to be."

I submitted a nomination today... the National Trust for Historic Preservation for the Gulfstream Hotel to be placed on the 11 Most Endangered List for 2013.  This is an annual list of historic properties around the United States that face some sort of threat.  The following is the nomination I submitted.  The list is announced in May of each year.  The deadline just happened to be today.

11 Most Endangered Nomination Form 2013


Contact Name:  Wes Blackman


Name of Place: Gulfstream Hotel

Location:  Lake Worth, Florida

Date Submitted: 3/1/13


Please write a short paragraph explaining why this place should be listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's 2013 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Places (250 words):  

Response: The Gulfstream Hotel (1925) is a 6-story, 135 room landmark hotel in Lake Worth, Florida, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The hotel occupies the most prominent piece of land in downtown Lake Worth – directly on Lake Avenue, one of a pair of main east/west streets through the city.  According to the Statement of Significance contained in the National Register nomination, it is a “rare survivor among resort hotels built during the 1920s Land Boom era.”  While the hotel is relatively unchanged since its beginning, it has been closed for business since late 2005.  It is currently in foreclosure proceedings with little impetus on the side of the owner or the lender to resolve the issue.  The room size and layout of the hotel is functionally obsolete and, in order to function with an economically viable business model, the historic hotel would have to be paired with a new development on the large empty lot on the western side of the property.  The city's voters are facing a referendum on the ballot in March, 2013 which would limit height in the downtown area to 45 ft. thus reducing the economic viability of any future sensitive redevelopment of the western side of the property.  The referendum is likely to pass.  Having the Gulfstream Hotel appear on the 11 Most Endangered List would send a wake-up call to the community about the possible peril the hotel may face.  Besides possible demolition-by-neglect given the tropical climate and prolonged closure, likely uses could include a group home, an assisted living facility and the like.  Its legacy as a destination hotel would be lost forever.

Provide a brief description of the project including its significance and the threat it faces, what are the specific reasons the place would be of interest to the public?  (300 words)

Response:  The Gulfstream Hotel enjoyed life as a destination resort for many years.  It is representative of the 1920s Florida Boom architectural period and is built in the Mediterranean Revival style.  It is one of few such hotels in south Florida that have survived into the 21st Century.  It is one of the city's few individual listings on the National Register of Historic Places and was listed as a National Trust for Historic Preservation hotel during its last operation as a hotel.  During the middle part of the last century, it was part of a group of hotels that would share staff during the changing seasons with northern hotels.  Guests and staff would migrate from one to the other, following the change in seasons and more temperate weather.  This sort of resort model has disappeared for a number of reasons, but the main building remains essentially unchanged physically.  For the past thirty or so years, the building has been owned by many different parties, is currently in foreclosure and has been out of operation since 2005.

Coincidentally, Lake Worth is celebrating its Centennial this year and it is indeed ironic that its iconic historic hotel sits empty and is not providing a place for tourists to stay in a town that was built for the tourism trade.  Including the Gulfstream Hotel on the 11 Most Endangered List would send a “wake-up call” to the city and surrounding communities about its plight and would rally support for more aggressive preservation efforts – including the re-establishment of hotel operations there.  It might also combat a “no growth” philosophy that severely restricts building heights on the hotel's nearly vacant western half of the property.  Any new development on that side of the property would have to provide parking for the existing historic hotel and parking for amenities or rooms that would be part of a new building.


Describe the nature and urgency of the threat (200 words)

Response:  The historic Gulfstream Hotel has been closed for the past 7 years with no immediate prospect of opening.  Deferred maintenance is already taking its toll with an empty pool now an attractive nuisance and code violation, balustrades are beginning to crumble and there is water damage inside the 1925 era building from roof leaks and plumbing problems.  It will take more than turning the lights on to re-establish a hotel use for the building.  Prior to closing, variances were issued by the city to allow for an expanded kitchen area and moving the pool to the second floor.  These efforts were stymied by near-by residents who appealed the Historic Preservation Board's decision and it was overturned – leaving the refurbishment of the hotel in a legal limbo.  The current situation with the lender does not lead one to believe the foreclosure will proceed quickly and is currently blocking the sale of the building to another party.  Documentation of this situation is available through a recent local news story.  Besides the deterioration of the structure, it is looking more and more as it might eventually fall in the hands of a non-profit, non-tax paying entity that would run an assisted living facility or a group home – further stifling the local economy and damaging the city's historic downtown.

Describe potential solutions to the threat (200 words)

Response:  Education in the form of an awareness of the plight faced by the historic property is needed so that residents of Lake Worth understand the importance of the Gulfstream Hotel in the city's development.  This is especially true as the city celebrates its centennial year.  Great public awareness by your organization placing the Gulfstream Hotel on the 11 most endangered list would motivate the community to look at realistic, non-reactionary alternatives to save the historic building and re-establish a hotel operation on the property.  Currently, the public sentiment is that they value the hotel, but the public is not being realistic about what it would take to save this property and restore its role in the local economy.  Pressure could also be put on the lending consortium and current ownership to conclude the foreclosure so the property could be placed in the hands of an owner with more resources to address the situation and benefit the community.  After all, this is one of the few individually designated local historic resources that is on the National Register.

Is there a local organization already in place working to save the site?  Please describe the organization's efforts and how it would take advantage of the increased public attention generated by being listed on the National Trust's 11 Most list (250 words)

Response: There is no formally organized group working to save the site other than a local political action committee called “Friends of the Gulfstream,” formed to defeat the draconian height limitation on the March 2013 ballot which would severely limit redevelopment opportunities.  While the public sentiment is favorable in terms of the historic importance of the hotel, it is usually expressed in platitudes but no concrete effort is underway, except for one person nominating this property to be on the 11 Most Endangered list.  Being placed on this list would place a national spotlight on the plight of the hotel, the importance of its role for tourism in the state of Florida and attract interested parties in preserving the hotel that have more financial and operational resources than are available locally.  It would also serve to educate the public about the need to have realistic and sensitive options for redevelopment of the vacant property which makes up the western half of the hotel property – now essentially a surface parking lot.  A reasonable height limit established through local action would allow more opportunities for the long-term preservation and re-establishment of a hotel operation on the property.  This would have a community benefit that would create a quality place for tourists to stay that is mainly non-existent within the city of Lake Worth now.  Anyone visiting for festivals, visiting relatives or wishing to simply stay in Lake Worth has to find lodging outside the city – sometimes requiring a trip of 10 to 15 miles depending on room availability in the central Palm Beach County area.  Those tourist dollars are lost to other, less economically needy communities.

What specific ways can a person (or local preservationist) get involved to help save this place from the threat it faces?  (150 words)

Response:  An informational and educational campaign is needed to pressure the parties involved and proceed to the final steps of the foreclosure process.  A promotional campaign, on a national basis, is needed to find a new owner that would respect the history of the Gulfstream Hotel and have the resources to renovate and operate this historic building as a hotel once again.  The local city government needs to enact reasonable zoning regulations that will allow redevelopment of the vacant parcel to the west of the historic hotel building.  Having the property placed on the 11 Most Endangered list will end the neglect and apathy that surrounds the Gulfstream Hotel property and bring this beautiful structure back to life again.

Scammers posing as electric bill collectors in Lake Worth

As if we didn't have enough to worry about.  Not the city's fault and it seems like they are handling it well.  Click title for link.  BEWARE WHAT YOU ARE TOLD OR ASKED TO DO AT THE DOOR (this goes for ballot measures too)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

State Representative Mark Pafford, District 86 03/01 by High Noon in Lake Worth | Blog Talk Radio

Join your host Wes Blackman as he welcomes District 86 Florida House Representative Mark Pafford to the High Noon in Lake Worth studios.  Click here for a link to Representative Pafford's official website.  He was first elected in 2008 to the Florida House of Representatives and is currently on the following committees - Elder and Family Services Policy, Military and Local Affairs Policy and Natural Resources Appropriations.  Click here for a link to his most recent office newsletter.

Post questions to ask during the show below by clicking the comment tab.  Click title for link to listen to live show or, after the show airs, click title for link to the archived show.

Maya New Year Fire Ceremony - March 6

The Maya New Year will arrive on March 6, 2013. The date will be commemorated with a traditional Maya Fire Ceremony to be held on the grounds of the Cenacle Retreat Center, 1400 South Dixie Highway, Lantana, Florida from 6 - 8 PM. People of every faith and culture are invited to attend this free event.

“This New Year has special significance,” said Maya Spiritual Guide, Miguel Angel Chinquin Yat who will preside at the Lantana ceremony. This marks the first New Year of the new Long Count. The old era ended last December and received much publicity, being erroneously reported to predict the end of the world. Rather, the New Year is a time of hope and spiritual encounter.

At the event, Chinquin Yat will help attendees experience the true meaning of the end of one era and beginning of the next, echoing the words of the Maya Council of Elders in Coban, Guatemala. “During this year, 2013, we enter fully ready to put into practice the GREAT WISDOM OF THE EAGLE, the ways of the FIVE SUNS and THREE MOONS, having left behind the plumage that accompanied us for the past five thousand years, entering now to the full in this new five thousand years with plumage renewed.”

The event is being sponsored by the Organization of Maya People in Exile and the Lake Worth Interfaith Network. For more information and photos, see the Facebook event page for Maya New Year Fire Ceremony.

Lake Worth Music Festival


The Lake Worth Rotary Club is pleased to present the 12th Annual Lake Worth Music Fest at the Lake Worth Cultural Plaza on April 20, 2013 from 2PM til 7PM.  

As always, it will be free to the public.

In addition to the outstanding Fest regulars Rod MacDonald, Joel Zoss and Tracy Sands, we are excited to announce that

Tim Grimm will be coming down from Indiana to perform.

Tim was named “Male Artist of the Year” by American Roots Music.  In addition, he has received wonderful reviews.

Snippets of some of them appear below:

            “A feast for the fan of well-performed, story-driven acoustic music.”    SING-OUT !

            “A real find.”     Village Records 

            “One of the best storytelling songwriters in America”      Rootsville, Belgium 

            “. . . [He] . . . tells such great stories, [and] conveys such deep emotion. . . .”   WGDR, Plainfield, VT 

             “ Grimm . . . [evokes] . . . Woody Guthrie . . . and Johnny Cash. . . .”     3rd COAST MUSIC 

            “. . . a quiet master following in the footsteps of Woody Guthrie and John Prine.”    The Courier, Tupelo, MS  

For more information about Tim, please go to

 For more information about the LWMFest, please contact Richard Willits at, or  904-834-2972.

Daily Affirmation #12 - "Vote Yes - They tell me what I like to hear and I believe them."

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Respectful, low-rise, livable, compatible 5 to 6 story buildings in downtown Gainesville...

Any buildings here built to 65 ft. would have to be hotels.  Office buildings or condominiums would be limited to 45 ft. - if they meet the community benefit requirement.

Daily Affirmation #11 - "Vote Yes - 20 feet in the future is more important than Lake Worth's 29.4% poverty rate now."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

History of the Gulf Stream Hotel - Re-posted from January 4, 2009

Picture of hotel in its heyday. Notice large metal sign on roof enticing southbound traffic from U.S. Highway 1.
This is a portion of the proposal for the hotel to be included on the National Register of Historic Places, dated August 1982. Click here to read the entire nomination document.

Short of that, I offer what appears below as it relates to the significance of the hotel, the arrangements for its original construction, its troubled history and how it became a successful feature of the City of Lake Worth during the mid 20th Century. It remains one of the few individual structures on the National Register within the City. Upon reading the document, you will be able to understand the importance of tourism in the development and growth of Lake Worth and the important role the Gulfstream played in the economic success of the city.  You will also better understand its current plight.  Search the blog for "Gulfstream" to get a low-down on the more recent history that has contributed to its continued closure.

Those among us who are conspiracy theorists will be interested in the part of the history related to kickbacks.

Remember, you can click on the individual pages to see more detail. Enjoy.

Last day to RSVP - Casino Building and Beach Complex Grand Opening

Recent Events - Amazing Street Painting

Click title for link to the artist's blog about how her art was defaced during the Street Painting Festival - who objected to Ponce de Leon being part of the image.  Click here to the Florida Sportsman message board for more from the artist.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Maya Angelou

"Only equals make friends. Any other relationship is out of order."

Last Friday...

I challenged fellow blogger Lynn Anderson to a debate on the height issue.  In advance of making the invitation, I worked with the Lake Worth Playhouse to schedule a time when the main stage would be available prior to the March 12th election. The date and time reserved for this event is Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 7 p.m.  In the time since making the invitation, Ms. Anderson not-so-graciously declined through a post on her blog.  I gave her ample time to reconsider, which she did not.

Debates have been an electoral tradition in Lake Worth and it is one worth continuing.  It is in the public interest to debate the issues prior to an election.  I am now extending an offer to debate the chairperson of the Respectful Planning PAC, Laurel Decker.  Ms. Decker, I will give you until noon Thursday, February 28th to respond to this invitation. You may respond to the invitation to debate in an e-mail to  I am sure that once you accept this invitation to debate, we will quickly settle on other parameters, including who will moderate the debate and various format decisions.  Thank you.


Wes Blackman

Daily Affirmation #10 - "Vote Yes - We need more unintended financial consequences."

Building heights banner declared a code violation in Lake Worth |

Willie's all over this one - go get 'em!  Click title for link.  From the article, puh-leeze:
Decker and other proponents of building height limits accused City Manager Michael Bornstein of favoring the existing 65-foot height limit by not making sure the banner was removed over the weekend, when the downtown was packed with people for the Street Painting Festival.
“I am offended,” Bornstein wrote in an email reply Saturday to resident Robert Waples. “This is a college-level stunt to gain attention. Feel free to play inside the political arena with this issue, but please keep the city entity out of it.”

Pictures from the Lake Worth Street Painting Festival 2013

Click here for link.  Below is a selection of photos from the top of the Lucerne building.

Why does this remind me of Lake Worth politics?

Thanks for pointing this out Russ:

Thousands attend the 19th annual Lake Worth Street Painting Festival | CLIK/HEAR | Multimedia, photography, video showcase of The Palm Beach Post

Nice video of the event put together by the Palm Beach Post.  Click title for link.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

By request

Seminole Inn formerly at 129 North J Street
From a comment to a previous post:

 "You wouldn't happen to have a postcard of the Seminole Inn at 129 N J Street, would you? That was a beauty. Torn down long ago to build a bank that was also ultimately torn down..."

Timely quote...

From the minutes of the June 13, 2012 Historic Resource Preservation Board meeting....

This is when the board made its official recommendation to the City Commission on the height limits contained within the proposed Comprehensive Plan.  The City Commission followed this recommendation and approved the Comprehensive Plan with heights up to 65 ft. east of Federal Hwy, along Lake and Lucerne Avenues.  This was before the board was reconstituted with new members.