Monday, July 31, 2017

On the Casino settlement. What exactly is being settled at the Beach? In the long run, nothing.

[Below is a blog post from earlier this week with some additional observations.]

Video below, June 2016: During a typical rain storm decided to grab some lunch. . .

Question: How does one fix a structure, next to the Atlantic Ocean, that’s been leaking water for 4+ years?

The sound you hear in the video is a wet/dry vac being used to suck rain water from on top of the suspended ceiling tiles. The water was coming from the 2nd floor of the building during a typical south Florida rain event. It had been raining about 15 minutes before this scene unfolded.

Upon first learning there was a settlement agreement at the Casino Complex a few weeks ago expected a step forward, maybe even a big one. Afraid to say this may just be another step back, two steps back, or some sort of status quo just to get past the elections next year.

Big decisions need to made about the Beach and the Commission needs to think big. Because if they don’t, expect new faces on the City Commission next March.

What’s an example of a BIG IDEA?

On the “wish list” at the Commission meeting on July 25th about what to do with the County’s ¢1 sales tax proceeds was a BIG IDEA by Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell. All of the electeds had their top 3 choices. A parking garage in the Downtown was either #2 or #3 on everyone’s list. It’s generally agreed we need a parking garage at the Beach too.

Here’s Maxwell’s BIG IDEA: Build a parking garage Downtown and another one at the Beach and form a parking authority to manage it all. You may like that idea. Or maybe not. However, if a parking garage at the Beach is a good idea why construct one supporting a dysfunctional Casino with a business plan everyone knows does not work? 

Folks, the answer to fixing all the problems at the Beach isn’t to tinker around the edges. We need BIG IDEAS. Here’s another one: “Tear it all down and start all over again” (read more about that below).

Who do you think said this about the Casino complex at the Beach?

“It’s also caused political issues. The city of Lake Worth has been an afterthought in all of this and I don’t think our best interests were in the forefront of what y’all were doing.”
Find out at the end of this blog post.

The Commission, if they agree to this settlement, are just putting more “lipstick on a pig”. We’re not solving anything in the long run. And we get another tolling agreement too. How charming. How many tolling agreements is this now? Has anyone been keeping count?

If there was a Lemon Law for structures we would have gotten a brand new Casino building last year or maybe two years ago. So:
  • We know we need a parking garage at the Beach.
  • We know we need a new business model at the Beach.
  • We know we need a new parking plan at the Beach.

The plan for the Casino structure is to try and fix it?

I’m reminded what Jeff Perlman said,
It can take 10–20 years to rebuild a city. But it can take as short as a year or two to tear down all that hard work and all those accomplishments.
Before long will begin counting down the days when many years of hard work gets wiped out. We’re 7½ months away from another election and this is no time to be playing it safe. This is no time to be playing “prevent defense”. It was BIG IDEAS from the City Commission that got us to this point.

The ultimate solution is to tear it all down and start all over again.

Why? Because the fundamental problem is the one problem nobody is talking about: Our Casino building was constructed in the wrong place.

Instead of being in the center of the Beach property, it occupies the far northern part. But did you know there was once a solution to this problem? There was. It was called the Greater Bay plan. Below is an image, the proposal by Greater Bay, that appeared in The Palm Beach Post in an article from reporter Nicole Janok datelined October 2005:

“Beach makes headway in Lake Worth”

This plan by Greater Bay was rejected. Instead, what we ended up with is a vastly inferior design.

The idea of tearing down the Casino and starting all over again is not new by any means. For example, back in 2015, a resident of the Great Walled City of Atlantis in a letter to the editor published in the Post, wrote these words:

When I moved here from Connecticut, I thought, the first time someone took me to Lake Worth Beach, I had found heaven. The sunshine, the sand and the few steps to the ocean — Lake Worth Beach had it all.
     Then a revision mucked up the works; it added shops, places to eat and a little shopping.

and. . .

     Handicapped parking is inadequate as well. Bring back a short walk for families and seniors — not climbing up what seems like mountains to the disabled (try it with a cane or a walker), and then dodging cars to get your toes in the sand.

then this cryptic line. . .

     Perhaps take the money from the investors and fix our streets and bridges, which are far more in need of help. After all, the beach is Mother Nature at her best, and no one wants to mess with Mother Nature.

Image below in the Post, 2005, “Proposed site plan for Lake Worth Beach”.

Note where the Casino is in the Greater Bay plan: The middle of the Beach property with a parking garage, a “Renovated pool and deck”, and note that parking and traffic lanes SURROUND THE STRUCTURE.
A quote from Nicole Janok’s article: “We know we need to do something,” [former] Commissioner Retha Lowe said. “We asked for a partner and we got one. Now let’s work together as partners to get this beach done.”

Why didn’t this plan by Greater Bay ever see the light of day and serious consideration? Because there is another fundamental problem with the Lake Worth Beach as well: Getting the public in this City to understand all the lies, deception, mis- and disinformation that has been perpetuated for so many years about the Beach.

Do you remember these former commissioners and the former city manager?
Recognize anyone? These former ‘visionaries’ stopped celebrating shortly after the ‘renovated’ Casino opened. Why?

Remember from earlier in this blog post, about a quote, “Who do you think said this about the Casino complex at the Beach?”

When the building, which cost $6 million, was opened in 2013, it was riddled with issues, including water intrusion, bad drainage, leaking and rusting.

and. . .

     “We’ve lost revenue and it’s put a strain on the financial plan that was designed for that building,” Maxwell [Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell] said. “It’s also caused political issues. The city of Lake Worth has been an afterthought in all of this and I don’t think our best interests were in the forefront of what y’all were doing.”