Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Tale of the Telltale Toe.

Please note: My right big toe, the toenail, and experience at the now-closed municipal pool at the Lake Worth Beach is anecdotal and cannot provide any proof my toe was a victim.
However, ever since I began using the pool at Lake Lytal on a regular basis, the affliction on my right big toe has been cured.

For those who don’t like to think about things below the ankle — toenail fungus for example — perhaps this blog post is not for you. The article linked to confirms it is very difficult to treat. Luckily, I don’t have any of the ailments identified that make me a more likely candidate for such a malady. However, for about the past ten years, I have had a discolored toenail on my right foot’s big toe. No other toes have been affected and it has not spread. Just my right big toe.

It has been a painless affliction and really is more of a cosmetic nuisance if anything.

Living in the “Quirky, Charming” City of Lake Worth, it is all very important that you know, as with anything, things you think would not be related or believe not part of a cause-and-effect dynamic might actually be. This is possibly one of those things. Let me explain.

About four years ago I began using the Lake Worth Municipal Pool at our Beach. It became a regular thing for me as part of my exercise routine. Having a pool in the City was ideal being able to ride my bike most times. Let me make clear: having a community pool in our City is of great importance but one at the Beach is not the ideal location, in my opinion, for most residents including families that can ill-afford the parking rates to teach children how to swim. Most community pools don’t charge residents to park.

By participating in Sally Welsh’s exercise class at the Beach I got to know a lot of nice people from the City and outside the Lake Worth community as well. Those relationships continue today, although it is more challenging now the pool closed last December. We all use different pools now.

But I digress. Back to the big toe on my right foot.

Six or eight months after integrating the pool as part of my routine I visited my general medical practitioner. In the course of my regular physical I told her about my exercise routine which she fully supported. Then, one time before she left the room, I stopped her to ask about one of those things that you need to address, but usually forget because it’s not an issue right then.

I pointed out, for some reason, the toe fungus on my right foot’s big toe was nearly gone. I wondered if there could be a plausible reason why. She quickly answered, “You’ve been in the pool a lot. It’s the chlorine. We would be treating it with the same chemicals. That makes total sense.” Cause and effect identified and I was happy to know there was another benefit to being submersed and splashing around in a chlorinated water.

Now let’s jump ahead to early 2016. I notice the stubborn stain, a black streak, and fungus on the big toe of my right foot had come back!

I didn’t think too much about it at first. Just thought that it was proving “hard to treat” as described in everything I read about it. My pool outings were the same if not even more frequent. But I didn’t put the two and toe together (pardon the pun).

Warning. The image below may be disturbing for some readers.

Will now reveal what my right foot’s big toenail looked like.

Avert your eyes if you must!

You’ve been warned.

My big toe on the right foot, the toenail growing out. The black streak and almost all of the fungus is gone!
Now, you ask, “What does the big toe on your right foot have to do with anything, Wes?

I’ll explain. Since the closure of the Lake Worth pool at the Beach I’ve been going to the Lake Lytal pool almost five days a week when my schedule permits. The Lake Lytal pool does not have the leakage problem the Lake Worth pool had which was identified at last Tuesday's City Commission work session. To read about that use this link.

We learned the Lake Worth pool, prior to its closure, was losing close to 15,000 gallons of water per day, that’s right, 15,000 GALLONS EVERY DAY. And note that water is West Palm Beach municipal water via the Town of Palm Beach water pipes.

Over the surface of the pool, that resulted in a 2″ drop of water. Every day. That water had to be replaced with municipal water. Thus, the pool was never really in balance with the proper chemicals, so those chemicals weren’t doing the proper job at disinfection. Can we conclude, therefore, the chemical balances are what they should be at the Lake Lytal pool? Is my big toe the proof?

In conclusion:

Consider this anecdotal telltale tale of the toe as sort of a “canary in the coal mine”. In my opinion the Lake Worth municipal Pool was closed for all the right reasons. The safety of the public and those who worked at the pool could not be overlooked any longer.

And now, quite possibly, my big toe on my right foot provides another good reason the pool was closed. Now. To the question: Where should our City of Lake Worth construct a new pool?

“Embrace the roll”! Kaiser? Russian piroshki or bulozhki? Brioche? Multigrain? Sourdough? Texas toast?

Would imagine Washington Post reporter Callum Borchers wasn’t too happy to be “rolled” by the headline editor at The Palm Beach Post (“Real News Starts Here”).
This headline appeared in The Palm Beach Post same day they celebrated the “Green Eyeshade Awards”. What’s still gone unreported in the Post? Why they shut down the Tallahassee News Bureau and let go a veteran top-notch reporter.

Attention Lake Worth: “How To Report A Crime”, a nine (9) step-by-step guide from America’s Finest News Source*

Whether you are a bystander, witness, or the direct victim of a crime, it’s important to know how to alert the authorities.Very important steps 1–3, 5, 6, and 8 are below; for all the steps and more information see the footnote/attribution below:

After the crime occurs, take a moment to gather yourself and consider whether any of this is worth interacting with a police officer
Google how to place a phone call
When the dispatcher answers, calmly and clearly scream the details of the incident [emphasis added]

[and. . .] 

Carefully review your neighborhood’s snitching policy before speaking with any cops
Describe the perpetrator to police in as much detail as possible, but be sensitive when it comes to the issue of weight 

[and. . .] 

Write a Facebook post about the entire ordeal, making sure to repeatedly emphasize that you’re fine, but that it really made you stop and think about how lucky you are, and that you’re just so thankful for all your friends

Or. . . forget about the step-by-step instructions and just “Make the Call Y’all”:
Use this link to learn more about Lake Worth District 14 PBSO.

*Learn more about America’s Finest News Source. For the entire step-by-step guide listed above, which is actually satire (for those of you who didn’t catch on), use this link.

Check out the video by the Lake Worth CRA and LULA: “United in the Arts”.

Below is a very well produced video by LULA and the Lake Worth CRA of street art and the many murals in the City. Towards the end of the video is the La Joya Village mural (below) being painted.

The inspiring mural at La Joya Villages on 6th Ave. South. Enjoy the video!

Here is an excerpt from LULA’s mission in our City:

“Our mission is to invest and revitalize in the neighborhoods and commercial corridors in the community. The CRA will continue to maintain the character of the City, respond to the needs of the residents and encourage sustainable economic growth to improve the quality of life for our residents and the future health of our City.”

If you would like to learn more about LULA and the Lake Worth CRA call 561-493-2550.

Have you heard a rumor about the “Blueway Trail”?

First, please take note: Many in the public, including some homeowners along the C-51 Canal, believe their property lines is the waterline along the canal. Not true.

The South Florida Water Management District (aka, SFWMD) has what’s called an “easement” on both sides of the canal. An easement is, “a right held by one property owner to make use of the land of another for a limited purpose. . .”.

Click on image to enlarge:
Ever been to Spillway Park in Lake Worth? Take Maryland Drive off N. Federal Hwy, the park is at the end of the street. Have you ever seen the Spillway (S-155) on the C-51 Canal up close? Have you heard a rumor. . .

Learn myth vs. FACT about the Blueway Trail: To verify whether what you heard was true or not about the Blueway Trail, send your questions to:

Kim DeLaney, PhD, Director of Strategic Development and Policy, Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council. Use this link and fill out the “Contact form” to have your question answered.

To learn more about the Blueway Trail here is a video which gives a broad overview of the project:

Friday, May 26, 2017

Segment #3 and video: “Getting from Point A to Point B”: Panel discussion titled, “Why our world will never be perfect”.

Check back tomorrow for more information from the Public Discussions held on May 22nd. Use this link for the blog post from yesterday, Segment #2, “President Donald Trump, tourism and Trains, Planes, and Automobiles!”.
This forum was hosted by Town of Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio, West Palm Beach Commissioner Shanon Materio, and Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard.

This was the third panel held at the West Palm Beach Convention Center on Monday, May 22nd. In the video below we have Nick Uhren, Executive Director of the Palm Beach County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), Clinton Forbes, Executive Director of Palm Tran, and then John Renne, PhD, Director for the Center of Urban and Environmental Solutions at Florida Atlantic University.

Mr. Uhren begins by introducing the purpose and the function of the Palm Beach MPO which is integrating the transportation and mobility desires of local governments in the planning and allocating of funds to transportation projects. He talks about his organization’s current focus on the US-1 Corridor Mobility Study which is attempting to integrate all users of that network with a “pedestrian/bicycle first approach”. This is opposed to the traditional notion that highways should be designed for automobiles first and is otherwise known as the Complete Streets approach to transportation. He also discusses how this approach could be used for the Okeechobee Boulevard corridor which was the main focus of the session.

We also heard from Clinton Forbes with Palm Tran, the Palm Beach County mass transit provider. He sees Palm Tran’s job to provide access to opportunity in a safe and courteous manner. Key among the agency’s priorities are reliability, which he indicates is something that they are working to improve in terms of wait times, comfort, including access to WiFi and other technologies that will make the system easier and more comfortable for riders to use.

Dr. Renne from FAU talked about the important balance between providing jobs within a downtown area and relationship to the number of residents in the downtown. He drew on examples of successful urban areas that generally maintain a healthy balance between those that live and work downtown in those overall numbers — it should be noted that he initially underestimated the number of jobs in downtown West Palm Beach — the actual number is closer to 24,000 jobs, which he was able to correct later during the Q&A session at the conclusion of the this event.

Thank You for visiting today and check back tomorrow for segment #4.

More news about “Taste History Culinary Tours”

Check the schedule for upcoming tours. For example, on June 3rd is the “West Palm Beach/Lake Worth” tour and on June 10th is the “Lake Worth/Lantana” tour. This latest news is from VacationIdea:

Taste History Culinary Tours are managed by a non-profit museum called the Museum of Lifestyle and Fashion. The actual museum is located in Palm Beach County, Florida, and destinations include places like Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach, Lantana, and Lake Worth.
     Taste History Culinary Tours were one of the first to bring the moving culinary experience to Palm Beach. The narrated bus tours have attracted over 8,000 passengers, who have stated that these monthly tours feature delicious food and fine stop-offs along the way. On these tours, guests get to develop an understanding of the eatery and the food it serves, learning the history and its relevance to the building or location. The tours also pass through a couple of art districts, where works by emerging artists can be viewed.

and. . .

     The culinary tours are an on-the-go activity, so sitting down is pretty much non-existent. On the day of the tour, visitors will learn of the eateries that they will be visiting. The tour has some versatility, with each tour rotating its schedule and new twists being added to the mix from time to time. The tours are certainly unique, and are narrated by conversant experts who know all about the food and historical places.

Blueway Trail Project: News blackout at Palm Beach Post is not working.

“I attended a League of Cities lunch for representatives from [Palm Beach County] District 2 and District 3 held at the Atlantis Country Club. . . . It was very interesting to have lunch with the other elected officials and to hear what’s on their minds. I can tell you that, the Blueway Trail Project, there’s this very, very strong interest in that from our neighboring elected officials just like there’s strong interest from our residents here in Lake Worth.”
—Commissioner Omari Hardy, City of Lake Worth, District 2 (northern border is the C-51 Canal) during his Commissioner Liaison Report to the City Commission on May 16th.

The Post is not reporting this story at all. So it’s left to the citizenry, elected and public officials to spread the word throughout Palm Beach County.

If you would like more information about the Blueway Trail Project use this link or contact:

Kim Delaney, PhD
Director of Strategic Development and Policy at the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (TCRPC); 772-221-4060.

And, of course, there’s also this blog:
  • Will looters and marauders from Lake Clarke Shores use the C-51 boat bypass to invade residential neighborhoods in the City of Lake Worth?
  • Read about my conversation with Mr. Buddy Tuppen. Does the name “Tuppen” sound familiar?
  • To learn about tourism, the fishing industry, and the C-51 Canal in the first half of the 20th Century use this link.
  • Fishermen and fisherwomen need to take on more responsibility now that the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) has already made improvements to the site.
  • And on a light-hearted note, read about a former Lake Worth commissioner, worried about increased boat traffic on the C-51 Canal and said, “Hey, we were just thinking of putting I-95 right there.” Not joking. That was an actual quote.
Stay tuned, as they say. This is a very exciting project — not just for Central Palm Beach County — but for entire region as well.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Segment #2 and a video. “Getting from Point A to Point B”: President Donald Trump, tourism and “Trains, Planes, and Automobiles!”

Check back tomorrow for more information from the Public Discussions held on May 22nd. Use this link for the blog post from yesterday, “Segment #1”.
This forum was hosted by Town of Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio, West Palm Beach Commissioner Shanon Materio, and Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard.

The video below is very interesting. If you want to learn more about the coming Brightline train service, you will want to watch the presentation by Ali Soule, Brightline’s Director of Public Affairs. Service is about to begin this summer and she gives an update on the status of the train stations in each area where the Phase 1 operations will begin. Those are downtown Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

She shares information regarding the length of a Brightline train (500′: comparable to a Tri-Rail train) to that of 2-mile-long freight trains that currently run on the FEC tracks. She also talks about the improvements made to the corridor in terms of signalization and how they will now be “quiet” crossings, and she also reviews various safety measures that are in place: a priority for Brightline. Notably, the FEC tracks are one of the north/south features that intersect the Okeechobee corridor. That was the main subject of the discussions that took place last Monday.

Below this video is more information Messrs. Jorge Pesquera and Tom Bradford, names many of you will recognize.

Jorge Pesquera, CEO of Discover the Palm Beaches, followed and reviewed occupancy rates for hotel rooms in Palm Beach County. The County continues to draw in record numbers of tourists. He points out that this is no accident as Palm Beach County has high quality venues and developed a coherent brand strategy to accomplish this. He shares facts such as a 41% increase in visitors since 2010, totaling over 7 million. He identifies the various markets where these visitors come from, including those visiting from in-state locations.

He points out that the inventory of rooms is actually less than the peak of 2007 due to attrition of rooms over time and lack of replacement rooms — a certain developer in the City of Lake Worth needs to pay attention — this means to me the Gulfstream Hotel would be a key destination if it were open given these tight market conditions. I really encourage you to watch that portion of the video.

Palm Beach Town Manager, Tom Bradford, rounded out the discussion, talking about the unique impacts the Town of Palm Beach experiences based upon its proximity to downtown West Palm Beach and reliance on the drawbridges (which are controlled by the Coast Guard) for access to the town. He also talks about the challenges presented by one visitor in particular, the President of the United States, and his frequent visits to the town.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow and Thank You for visiting today.

Some notes from my recent trip to Michigan and the popular scene now: micro-brewing.

It’s been about two weeks since returning from a visit to Michigan, the state in which I was born. It turns out that this year marks 28 years being in Florida and the previous 28 years being in Michigan. I visited family and friends, having time to walk around some central-lower Michigan cities. It’s interesting to view these communities through the eyes of an urban planner. Below are some pictures and descriptions of what I experienced in a few of the communities visited.

Micro-brewing is everywhere.

We’ve seen it emerge here in south Florida. It turns out the trend is thriving in Michigan. I happened by Founders Brewing in Grand Rapids. The entire city, it seems, is remaking its image around the beer brewing scene. A Hipster-looking group made up most of the crowd when we stopped by for a sandwich during the middle part of a Friday afternoon. Most looked like they were direct from “Central Casting”.

Focusing on Lake Worth for a moment, the Hipster scene is also thriving quite well here in our City, which I jokingly refer to as “The Home of Apatharchism”. Maybe some day soon our underutilized sections of Dixie Hwy. will be seen with a new set of eyes by our Hipster community and combine that with micro-brewing and a trendy new food venue.

The former “Patio Coffee Shop” location here in the City of Lake Worth, a vacant and littered lot after many years (located on Dixie Hwy. between Cornell and Dartmouth) would be an excellent future location for a “Hipster Hangout”. Why? It’s across the street from another popular Hipster hangout already, the City of Lake Worth’s iconic World Thrift.

Here are a few pics from my visit to Michigan and Founders Brewing in Grand Rapids.
Beer is generally categorized in “alcohol by volume”. There were a myriad of choices at this establishment.

The doors helped complete the industrial vibe of this tap room and eatery.
Founders Brewing was the first real presence of the trend in the Grand Rapids area. This was a warm Spring day. The garage doors were open to invite the public in.

Even the small town of Hastings couldn’t escape the trend. A few days before, a planner friend and I had lunch at this establishment, which featured it’s own micro-brewed beverages.


I also had a chance to visit East Lansing which is home to Michigan State University. I happened to work for the city as a planner early in my career. It’s transformed from a low-scale downtown area and now the higher, denser development is the norm. There are two new high-rise developments being considered that would further transform the area. You can read about some of these here.

A friend and I enjoyed an early evening meal at El Azteco, a favorite “go to” spot for those familiar with East Lansing. We took a spot on the second floor, actually the roof terrace, and I was able to get some shots of the downtown area.

Hope you enjoyed this recounting of my trip to Michigan. How long you think before you hear someone say, “Good day, barkeep, I’ll have a draft of Hipster LDub, please.”

Spread the word: There is no Farmers Market this Saturday as was falsely reported in the Post.

In the “EVENTS” section, in last Monday’s Lake Worth Very Very Special Monday Collector Print Edition (LWVVSMCPE), on page B3, below the fold:
“Farmers Market, Saturday, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., Old Bridge Park, 10 S. Ocean Blvd.”
There is no Farmers Market in the City of Lake Worth on Saturday. Or the Saturday after that either. The last market for the season was on April 29th, almost a month ago. The good news is the Lake Worth Farmers Market begins again in October. Here is their Facebook page. From the Farmers Market website about their recently ended, and very popular season:

The Lake Worth Farmers Market opens [now closed until October] its 11th season on October 15th and runs through April 29th. The Market is open rain or shine, delivering the freshest locally grown fruits and vegetables and baked goods and delicacies. We are committed to supporting local growers and small enterprises. We have over 80 vendors who are excited to share their wares with you each week.

And always remember there are only six (6) Special Cities in Palm Beach County (and Delray Beach IS NOT one of them!):
Have a community event in the City of Lake Worth you want published in the Post’s LWVVSMCPE next Monday? Use this link to contact the beat reporter.

Our Gulfstream Hotel 16 months later: The Pennsylvania Hotel, the Belleview Biltmore, and what history teaches us.

And more misinformation that needs to be addressed: A letter to the editor.

What happened in January 2016 was indeed remarkable. And it’s sad to think all that community excitement and goodwill back then has been squandered. But more about that a little later.

A Letter to the Editor in the Post, which I’ll address some time this week or next, contains misconceptions about our Casino building (it’s not a historic structure) and the municipal pool at the Beach as well. And also in the letter is this line:

“The Gulfstream Hotel should be taken back by the city and made into an affordable destination for tourists who would generate income and provide jobs for our community.”

The Gulfstream Hotel is owned by a private company. It cannot be “taken back by the city”.

This is just more nonsense published by the Post, either intentionally or because of ignorance, to confuse the public. For example, remember when the beat reporter wrote that the Gulfstream Hotel is still sitting vacant because of our City’s Code Enforcement? Complete utter nonsense.

The fact is if the owner of the hotel, Hudson Holdings, maintains the structure to some degree, follows the rules, ordinances, and pays all the fines incurred, they can let the building deteriorate until the point it is condemned and torn down. The writer of the letter may have become excited by this recent news in the Sun Sentinel, but most of us who have followed this story closely have learned not to get excited by ‘vibrant’ news reports any more.

But. . . that in no way means the public has no voice. If you’re upset about this situation, instead of writing letters to the editor at the Post, try organizing neighbors and contact your elected officials and let them know. Use this link to learn how to do that.

It’s hard to believe now, but it was just last year, in January 2016, when City residents packed the City Commission meeting, standing room only, spilling out and down the hallway in support of the Gulfstream Hotel, all coming out on a cold, rainy night. That night was so remarkable a well-known and respected land-use attorney representing the owners of the Gulfstream said this:

I have to tell you, in 23 years I’ve never, ever seen so many people come out, leave their homes at dinner time to speak in favor of an application. It just doesn’t happen. People come to speak against, but people don’t come to speak in favor. So I am overwhelmed by the volume of people that have been here this evening.

To better understand where we are 16 months later, and what to expect in the future, the past offers some clues.

The Pennsylvania Hotel

This Palm Beach Post article from back in 2010 recalls the demolition of the Pennsylvania Hotel that graced the West Palm Beach downtown waterfront for just under 70 years. The article mentions it was once one of six historic downtown waterfront hotels that have all been demolished over the years. From a different age when transit to Florida from the northeast and the mid-west was primarily by train, then later by car via US Highway 1 (prior to I-95), they later failed to capture tourist and visitor dollars in the last half of the 20th Century.

Many times, as was the case of the Pennsylvania Hotel, they were converted to convalescent or assisted living facilities. This sort of use does little to add vibrancy to the local economy and the tourist dollars go elsewhere, to hotels that have larger rooms and more modern amenities.

According to the article there was an attempt to place the property and building on the National Register of Historic Places in the mid-1980s but that effort failed. It is important to note that even placement on the National Register will not prevent a demolition. The solution is to find an adaptive reuse of a historic hotel that is more in tune with the current market or find sensitive ways to expand the property so that it is capable of handling a higher volume of visitors with larger rooms and amenities to which people are accustomed in the present day. Unfortunately, those efforts are the exception and not the rule.

This picture was taken by me in 1995 during the initial stages of the Pennsylvania’s demolition:

The former Pennsylvania Hotel in West Palm Beach.

Note the exposed area near the foundation where a pool had been added sometime during the 1950s. This was an attempt to keep up with the “Holiday Inns” that offered a pool in every motel throughout the land. The pool was an inappropriate addition historically and detracted from the look of the hotel, but another design or arrangement may have been more successful. We will never know now.

Many of you know upon moving to Florida from Michigan I served on the urban planning staff for the City of West Palm Beach. In fact, Mr. Rick Greene, the present day Director of Development Services was the person who hired me. During my time there worked with a Realtor representing a wealthy German client. That client wanted to purchase the hotel from the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm of South Florida and return it to use as a hotel with appropriate modifications. That never came to fruition and the result was demolition of this irreplaceable historic resource.

The Belleview Biltmore

The picture below is an example of a partial success in saving one of Florida’s largest historic hotels, the Belleview Biltmore.

Architect Tamara Peacock (on left) in front of the original Belleview Biltmore structure, undergoing restoration.

In 2015 I was brought in to do a Historic American Buildings Survey. I worked with a professional photographer who specialized in large format, black and white photography which provides archival quality images required by the Library of Congress; I wrote the accompanying narrative. We were there to document to the fullest extent possible the Belleview Biltmore and its history. An architect, Tamara Peacock, performed the as-built architectural record of the structure.

The Belleview Biltmore was a contemporary of the Royal Poinciana Hotel in Palm Beach, both gigantic wooden hotel structures, built by the railroad tycoons Henry Plant and Henry Flagler, respectively. The Royal Poinciana was demolished in the mid-1930’s.

Most of the sprawling Belleview Biltmore was demolished due to a host of structural deficiencies common to wooden structures. It also faced its fair share of issues such as economic obsolescence of hotels built in early Florida history. The good news here is at least part of the original structure was saved and relocated slightly on the site to accommodate a modern condominium development, consistent with the area surrounding the hotel property.

Part of the hotel’s demise can be traced back to a conglomerate that owned the property in the 1970s and sold off parcels for development. The result was “walling off ” the view of the water, Clearwater Harbor, for which the hotel was famously known.

The Gulfstream Hotel

And then we have Lake Worth’s own Gulfstream Hotel:

A picture taken early in 2016 soon after the zoning approvals from the City for the Gulfstream Hotel. Over a year later not much has changed.

This historic hotel is also on the National Register and was last open about 12 years ago. And remember, being on the National Register is no protection against demolition. This structure has many of the same obsolescence issues as the two other hotels referenced above. However, it did have an existing approval for the restoration and rehabilitation of the existing historic hotel along with the expansion of the hotel and more parking provided on the western half of the block.

That approval was good through the beginning of 2017. However, the owners will require an extension of their approval or it’s possible that may have already been done administratively. Given that in over a year’s time no work has commenced the justification for an extension should be something to reconsider.

Meanwhile, the calendar pages keep turning and the ticking clock stops for no one. This historic structure continues to suffer from a lack of preventative maintenance, daily upkeep, and stands a community eyesore, certainly not what it deserves given its once glorious past.

So the fate of our historic Gulfstream Hotel still hangs in the balance: either its renaissance or a date with the wrecking ball. At the Street Painting Festival in February of 2016, the City’s iconic annual event, the mood was bright for the future Gulfstream Hotel. But the mood was dim at the festival this year looking at the hotel.

Hopefully something will happen soon to justify the vision and all that excitement, the overwhelming community support back in 2016, and maybe offer residents a glimpse to a future New Year in the City of Lake Worth somewhat like what happened in 1942.

 Time will tell what has more value: The structure and its history or the land that sits beneath.

Missed this from yesterday? Disappointing. Is all we’re going to do is “turn back the clock” to 1971?

The City Commission Work Session was last Tuesday night to address the municipal pool at the Beach. There are 4 videos up on YouTube to watch at your leisure now.

“Can I have a strong City Commission please?”
The public comment period to address the problems with the City’s pool at the Beach has been extended. Again. Will we learn anything new? No, of course not. But the City wants to listen anyway.

The City Commission: A rum-drenched cocktail best ordered before or after one of those contentious commission meetings when a lot is said, but nothing is accomplished. Drinking it before the meeting could make the experience more palatable. Downing it after will make you forget everything you’ve witnessed. Forever.”
—Excerpt from City of Lake Worth’s beat reporter at the Post in a story titled, “Signature cocktail ideas for Lake Worth’s new speakeasy” at the Grand Opening of C.W.S. Bar + Kitchen (522 Lucerne Ave.) in May of 2016.

When construction company executives and general contractors hear the news from Tuesday night they will be incredulous. The look on almost everyone’s face when they heard the number $600,000 to make the pool operational and functional again told the story. How is that even possible? Even some of those who are rallying to keep the pool open doubted the number. At least 2 of the electeds on the dais stated they thought the number was too low.

How Kimley Horn, the accountants, came up with that number has to be explained. It’s inexplicable.

That $600,000, we were told, would bring the pool back to it’s operational function as it was in 1971. The only possible explanation is Kimley Horn was using U.S. dollars, adjusted for inflation, from 46 years ago.

The only leadership last night came from Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell, commissioners Herman Robinson and Andy Amoroso, and the City Manager, Michael Bornstein. Mayor Pam Triolo provided more anecdotes but no clear direction. Commissioner Andy Amoroso kept stating the facts, the pool loses $600,000/yr to keep open and keeps losing $300,000/yr to stay closed. Amoroso also brought up using money from the County’s penny sales tax to fix the pool. And Commissioner Omari Hardy took a position and then took another position later on.

Mayor Triolo said, “Let’s create a destination” and “Do it once and do it right.” The mayor used the word, “holistically”.

Vice Mayor Maxwell hammered the point home, “the pool has been prostituted.” Used as a political football for too many years. Commissioner Robinson said he’s “not interested in pouring money into the existing pool.”

City Manager Bornstein was left to try and explain the inexplicable: the two City experts come from two totally different perspectives. Bob McCallister was using current business models when he gave his presentation last March to the City Commission, explaining how a water park and modern amenities could make the pool facility sustainable. Dave Stewart from Kimley Horn mentioned possibilities like “alternate layouts”, “a smaller pool”, deck expansion to the west, and vertical expansion as well.

But the public will likely focus on the two numbers. The numbers from Mr. McCallister of $4–5M for a new, upgraded facility juxtaposed with Mr. Stewart’s number of $600,000 will not make any sense. Press reports will certainly muddle the issue even further and those who want to “save the pool” will use the number $600,000 as a rallying cry.

If anyone was hoping the City would take a big step forward last night they will be very disappointed. If anything, it was a step back, or maybe even two steps back. The expert the City hired to look at future concepts and business operations, Bob McCallister, provided his numbers and projections. Dave Stewart from Kimley Horn provided his numbers. If you didn’t know any better you would think they were both talking about different pool facilities in different cities.

Mr. Stewart did not address business operations. He provided a number to re-open the pool. To do that code issues will need to be addressed, e.g., the Florida building code, the Health Dept. will need to be consulted, and he made mention of the state’s Model Aquatic Health Code which has never been formally adopted.

The Coastal Control Line is almost dead center in the middle of the pool. The Casino building is completely east of this line.

To re-open the pool so people can use it once again will need consultants and more studies. Permits will be needed and construction plans created. We learned last night that because the pool facility straddles the Coastal Control Line this will make the planning process much more complicated. Blocked pipes leading to the locker rooms and bathroom facilities will need to be cleared. Toilets and sinks will needed to re-open the facility.

When the pool was open it was losing 15,000 gallons of water per day, 2″ of pool water every single day. And no one knows why yet.

And the experts at Kimley Horn told us the pool can be re-opened and operational for $600,000.

No one is laughing in City Hall today. Everyone’s job just got a whole lot harder. Not what we were all expecting prior to the City Workshop yesterday.

An idea: Let’s table all discussion about the City’s municipal pool at the Beach for two more years.

Below is a video and there are two parts of that video everyone needs to listen to very carefully. And scroll down below for another blog post today (or use this link) to learn about what happened at the Commission Workshop last night. The word “disappointing” comes close to describing it.

If it wasn’t clear before it’s very clear now, the Lake Worth City Commission is incapable of solving the problems at the Beach Complex and pool. Why? It’s impossible if our electeds are in perpetual campaign mode. But that’s going to change in 2 years when the City’s mayor and commissioners begin serving 3-year terms instead of two.

If you didn’t know, that ballot question passed quite easily last March.

City Manager Michael Bornstein said something last night that’s going to shock a lot of people. The Palm Beach Post will not report this because Bornstein describes something that happened in 2011. For the Post, the history of the Casino complex and pool began in 2012 when the new majority on the City Commission took over.

The city manager can’t lead our City Commission. He can provide the best information available and the best possible courses of action, but he can’t vote.

If the only people who show up at Commission meetings are people who want to “Save Our Pool” then they are the ones the electeds hear. Because people packed our Commission meetings back in 2010–2012 yelling “Save Our Beach”, the electeds back then listened, and that’s why we’re in such a terrible position now, having to subsidize a failed business plan, possibly for many years to come if nothing is not done.

Just because people line up and say, “Save Our Pool” doesn’t mean the City Commission should. With a 3-year term our elected officials, whoever they are in two years, will be more in leadership mode than in campaign mode and something like this will be much less likely to happen:

This image will be explained later.
When you finish reading this blog post scroll back up and click on this link. Then ask yourself this, “How many years longer am I willing to wait until the City Commission creates a workable business model for our Beach?”

Here’s what City Manager Bornstein said last night, an excerpt from the video below, about our now-closed municipal pool and decisions made prior to him being hired by the City in 2012:

“The best of my recollection and understanding that [pool facility] was included by the engineering firms and design firms in that calculation so that they could come up with a formula to keep the Casino building where it is and call it a restoration.”

A prior administration in our City — under public pressure to do something — came up with a “formula” to call the former Casino, which was 94% demolished, a “restoration”. Why? Because if they called it new construction, which it was, it would need to be constructed on pilings and follow State law vis-à-vis being located east of the Coastal Construction Line.

Is this all making sense now?

Now you know why a former commissioner, Chris McVoy, PhD, was OK with this Casino ‘renovation’ back in 2010–2012, unconcerned about “rising sea levels”.
What’s not discussed at all is this: the seawall protecting the Casino building and pool was never property inspected when the Casino was ‘renovated’. Is there a recent report on the status of the seawall?

Are you mad? You should be. Now here we are in 2017 and there’s a very real possibility our elected leaders will “kick the can down the road” once again.

In the video pay special attention to what’s said at these minute marks:
  • City Manager Bornstein at 10:10–11:50 minute marks.
  • Vice Mayor Scott Maxwell at 24:10 to the end, the remarks made by Commissioner Herman Robinson.
Then go back to the image and caption above. Have a good day.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Segment #1 and the video: Just the Facts, “Getting from Point A to Point B”, Panel Discussions in West Palm Beach.

Check back tomorrow for more information from the Public Discussions held on May 22nd. Use this link for the first blog post from May 23rd.
This forum was hosted by Town of Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio, West Palm Beach Commissioner Shanon Materio, and Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard.

This first segment featured George Webb, P.E., Palm Beach County Engineer, former West Palm Beach Mayor Nancy Graham and Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) representative Mark Plass. The video (see below) also includes the introduction by the day’s Master of Ceremonies, Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard. Dana Little of the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council served as moderator for all the panel discussions.

We learned from George Webb what Palm Beach Beach’s responsibilities are as it relates to mobility. He spoke about the County’s traffic signal control system which is controlled at their headquarters building at Okeechobee Boulevard and Jog Road (Vista Center). He also talked about the challenges of making alternative mobility an attractive choice compared to the single passenger automobile, especially in relation to mass transit (longer wait times) and more walking (e.g., the climate).

Many people at this forum may not have been aware of the strategic decision made by Palm Beach County years ago, at the urging of West Palm Beach, to keep County government and the courthouse in the downtown. In the video, you will hear the history of traffic concurrency and the exemption granted the downtown area, especially for residential development.

Mark Plass from FDOT outlined their role related to Okeechobee Boulevard. They own the right-of-way. He acknowledged the department is looking more at all types of mobility issues through transportation system management. This looks at all users, including pedestrians and bikes, in addition to the movement of vehicles. He recognized this corridor is challenged by multiple jurisdictions, including the County in terms of signalization and the Town of Palm Beach as it relates to bridges. FDOT also operates a large safety program overall as it relates to transportation.

Former Mayor Nancy Graham speaks at the 33:30 minute mark and then again at the 51 minute mark providing some of the most interesting insights of the day. Mayor Graham ushered in the strong mayor form of government to the City of West Palm Beach by being elected the first one. She recalled the days before the redevelopment of downtown West Palm Beach and brought pictures to prove it, including the 70 acres which eventually became City Place.

In some ways, she believes the problems the city faces today are really consequences of its success. She also noted that some of the protections that were put in place originally as part of the city’s Master Plan were since removed. She talks candidly about building height limits near the waterfront and suggests the city may not be making development decisions as thoughtfully as it once did, or could have, under the original Master Plan.

Hope you find this video helpful and share with everyone who is interested in this topic:

“The Lake Worth Corridor”. A lesson for the press, media, and for others who care about the facts: Municipal borders in Central PBC.

How much do you know about the “Lake Worth Corridor”? Where is it? What is it? And why it’s so important to understand this “Corridor” west of our City to the border of Greenacres and this area’s impact on your daily life here in this City.

Yes, very true. The unincorporated area called the Lake Worth Corridor can be very confusing, even for long-time residents of Central Palm Beach County and self-described experts too who talk about local governments and how they interact. However, for reporters like Charlie Keegan and Julius Whigham II, for example, it’s not confusing in the least where the “Corridor” is. But more about that later.

The great benefit coming out of the recent debate over a baseball stadium in John Prince Park is all the focus this unincorporated area in our County received, especially from our County and local elected officials. And many in the public learned this: John Prince Park and the nearby “Lake Worth” College Campus are not in our City. But! They are both on the City of Lake Worth’s Electric Utility grid.*

Many societal problems (e.g., crime, homelessness, vagrancy) and other issues that arise from the Lake Worth Corridor (area explained in detail below, including maps) have a negative effect on our local cities and towns — but one city in particular is mostly immune — they built a very big wall around their city in 1959, or “back in the day” as they say, when there was a migration west from the City of Lake Worth. But I digress.

As the City of Lake Worth continues the process of re-branding itself it’s crucially important the public and press understand well what IS Lake Worth and what IS NOT Lake Worth. For a very long time the City was burdened with false crime reports and other tragedies in suburban Lake Worth, outside the City’s municipal limits.

One of the best examples, not crime-related, was that terrible plane crash back in 2015. If you recall, that plane crash was in suburban Lake Worth (right next to Palm Springs) and the only one to get the incident location correct was Charlie Keegan at NBC5/WPTV.

Nearly everyone else in the media got it wrong — including most of the local reporters — reporting the plane crash happened “in Lake Worth”. And, frankly, there are still some in the media and press that probably still believe it happened in our City.

Here is what will be addressed in this blog post:
  • The City of Lake Worth.
  • Very briefly, unincorporated areas of Palm Beach County (U-PBC) west of the City extending all the way to the Everglades, called “Suburban Lake Worth”.
  • And drum roll please. . . the unincorporated Lake Worth Corridor between our City and the City of Greenacres.
First a little background. Depending on what criteria you use, PBC is either the largest or second largest county east of the Mississippi River. It’s massive. As Florida developed cities were formed in the County and over time municipalities (now 39 total) were “incorporated”, annexing unincorporated land(s) from the County. To this day the process continues with cities annexing more land, sometimes very small parcels, even a few acres.

For reasons I won’t get into now, a problematic area in Central PBC never fully got incorporated and remained U-PBC. One of those areas was unfortunately named the Lake Worth Corridor. Here is a map of that area from several years ago (the map will be different today):

An image from Google Maps with labels added. Note Lake Worth is east of the Lake Worth Corridor. Over time bordering cities have been annexing land from the “Corridor”.

For some perspective, below is an image showing where that tragic plane crash occurred in U-PBC, aptly and correctly referred to as Suburban Lake Worth:

The areas in white are U-PBC and the Lake Worth Corridor. For reference, note the Great Walled City of Atlantis and Greenacres in relation to the City of Lake Worth.

Oddly enough, the Lake Worth Drive-In on Lake Worth Road, near that crash location is located in the City of Palm Springs. The area in the map above shows how over the years cities such as Greenacres and Palm Springs have annexed land over time. Lake Worth has also annexed land, but mostly east of the I-4 (Keller) Canal. 

This news story from CBS12/WPEC back then showed how much education was needed in understanding municipal borders and U-PBC. I’m not picking out CBS12 for any particular reason, there are many examples how the media gets it wrong, for some of them it’s a chronic problem.

Now back to the Lake Worth Corridor. This area in U-PBC has been the focus of many efforts by the County, one of which was the Urban Redevelopment Area: Planning Study and Corridor Master Plan in 2009. Here is part of the Introduction:

Please note. This is a very good summary on the history of this area west of our City of Lake Worth. Click on image to enlarge:
This “geographic area” is the Lake Worth Corridor. For many years now this area has been a vexing issue for County, city, and town officials, and still is to this day.

Note the words, “to illustrate opportunities and obstacles for that redevelopment, and provide recommendations and priorities for implementing that vision.” Would you agree that part of the problem is so many people are confused about WHAT geographic area is being addressed? 

The City of Lake Worth has a unique character that is well chronicled over the City’s 100+ years of existence. We’re very much different than the sprawling communities out west and we’re proud of that; well, most of us are. 

Hopefully the residents and media in Central PBC will come to a more complete understanding of unincorporated County areas and the “Corridor” and not just take the easy way out and call everything in suburban Lake Worth “near Lake Worth” or refer to these areas in other incorrect and misleading ways. It’s more complicated than that and the public deserves better.

Simply put: You are either in the City of Lake Worth OR you are not.

How can you figure this out? Here is how you do it. It’s not magic and only takes a few moments. If you’re someone in the media or the press give someone like Charlie Keegan a call or contact Julius Whigham II at the Post. They’ll tell you the same thing. It’s not magic.

*Use this link to see the Lake Worth Electric Utility Service Map. To learn more about our Electric Utility use this link.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

From yesterday’s forum “West Palm Beach’s Growing Traffic Challenges”. Stay tuned. A change of plans.

Please Note: Below are links to two videos to watch and share. More videos to come.

My original plan was to write a detailed post about what happened yesterday at the forum, “Getting from Point A to Point B”, a public discussion held at the Convention Center in West Palm Beach. But frankly, there was just way too much information presented and ideas to think about.

So. What I’m going to do is this: write a blog post each day, some very brief, some longer, for the next few weeks on one particular issue addressed. There were a lot of them. A real lot.

The hosts were fantastic and the panelists spectacular.
Hosted by Town of Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio, West Palm Beach Commissioner Shanon Materio, and Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard.

The Palm Beach Post article today about this meeting goes way beyond disappointing and not worth addressing in any serious way, mostly it was a distracting read.

Why Post reporter Kristina Webb was not tasked with reporting this news story is a mystery. She has a Millennial perspective — very important going forward — and most of the public interested in these topics and searching for news can agree, Webb has much credibility on issues such as this: local and County transportation, traffic, and planning. The editor(s) dropped the ball not picking a fresh set of eyes on this important topic.

This meeting was about the current state of traffic, much discussion about Okeechobee Blvd., and moving forward into the future. There were looks into the past and how agencies could have worked better and coordinated better, but those were brief and didn’t dominate the discussion or distract from the issues at hand.

You’ll be pleased to know I also took video of this meeting so you can form your own opinions and share with others who are interested. Here are two videos, there will be more:
  • For segment #1 use this link
  • For segment #2 use this link.
  • To be notified when new videos are posted, click on the red “Subscribe” icon and you will get an email.
By the way, also learned yesterday the Convention Center in West Palm Beach has booked events for 2020, three years from now. Information that may be helpful for the owner of the Gulfstream Hotel in Downtown Lake Worth as we await more “vibrant” news, maybe an update from a Sun Sentinel article almost 2 months ago.

Was also reminded that conventioneers tend to go back to places they visited in past years. News that doesn’t do much good for my City of Lake Worth. We’re awaiting the day our City can contribute to the bed tax in a significant way. Hope springs eternal.

It’s a mistake thinking this is a West Palm Beach issue. It goes way beyond that. The Town of Palm Beach and neighboring cities like Lake Worth need to pay close attention. This is a regional issue in Central Palm Beach County and the City of West Palm Beach needs to be applauded for having this conversation.

Here are some photos from yesterday with more information as well:
From left to right, Moderator Dana Little (standing), Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council. Forum introduction panelists: Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard; County Engineer George Webb, P.E.; former West Palm Beach Mayor Nancy Graham; and FDOT District 4 Operations Engineer Mark Plass.

And publicized by social media. . .
What was described as a “packed house” yesterday by Yours Truly on Twitter. The Post reported this event in the print edition yesterday, May 22nd — the very day of the event — timely huh? But many knew about it already.

And there was more news at this meeting as well:
Save the date: June 12–15 at the Convention Center in West Palm Beach.

During one of the breaks I asked people how they learned about this meeting. Almost everyone said “social media”.

Thank You for visiting today. And check back tomorrow for more.