Thursday, November 15, 2018

A new lap swimming pool at the Lake Worth Casino and Beach Complex is a terrible idea. Just a few reasons:

For example. . .

Have you ever heard of the Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL)?

Learn more about the CCCL below, information provided by the editor at The Coastal Star.

And why was the pool shut down in 2010? You see, the City ran out of money to keep a pool at the Beach open. It was no longer economically feasible. So what happens when the next recession hits? Also read more about that a little later.

The editor at The Lake Worth Herald also had about enough of this senseless debate about constructing a new lap swimming pool at the Lake Worth Beach being there are so many other much better locations for a new public pool or pools.

And hopefully it will not take a tragedy to bring everyone to the table. Public safety, children and young adults, and access to pools to learn how to swim couldn’t be more important for this City. For too many, a pool at the Beach might as well be twenty or thirty miles away and having to pay for parking is just one more hurdle to access. Not making this part of the discussion, public access to a public pool, is simply irresponsible and reckless.

Here is what the editor at the Herald wrote:

Lake Worth needs a pool, not necessarily an Olympic pool, but at least one big enough to serve the community and teach children how to swim. There are plenty of opportunities for children to come into contact with water in Lake Worth. It is imperative they learn to swim.

and. . .

Lake Worth does have some under-utilized parks with enough space to accommodate an aquatic center and should consider investing in a pool somewhere other than the beach.

Bryant Park has space, but that would raise the ire of those who walk their dogs in the park. What is more important, dogs or children? What about Sunset Ridge Park, there might be enough space there too. Go to the north end of the city, there sits numerous baseball and softball fields, some of which are never or seldom used. Take PONY field for example, it is in shambles and occupies a large portion of the park area.

and. . .

Lake Worth needs a pool, but they also need some Staffers with some creativity. How many times do we have to fail at the same thing before we realize it is the taxpayers who suffer in other areas so we can keep failing?

In 2010 the pool at the Lake Worth Beach was open. But then it was shut down. Why? A former City administration couldn’t afford to keep it open.

The Great Recession and salt water spray had taken its toll. The pumps and pool heaters were breaking down constantly. The public began to attend other pools such as the nearly Lake Lytal facility.

A public pool at the Beach, you see,
was not economically feasible:

But in 2010 revenue was a concern. Or was. The city manager back then was Susan Stanton. She was fired in 2011 and a few months later Michael Bornstein was hired to be the city manager. Now fast forward to 2015 following all the pressure that was put on Bornstein and the City to reopen the pool, which it was, but guess what happened next? A surprising turnaround. Learn more about that below.

 Some former electeds and administration official
responsible for this mess at the Beach:

From L to R, facing: Joann Golden has her hand on Suzanne Mulvehill’s shoulder, Chris McVoy, PhD, Susan Stanton (former city manager), and Cara Jennings (on far right).

The surprising turnaround.

The very same former commissioners from that prior administration who closed the pool in 2010 all of sudden in 2015 were no longer concerned the pool complex had lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was now an ‘amenity’ that must remain open no matter what the burden or shortfalls in City budgets.

If we were to conclude that a pool at the Beach is a precious amenity that must remain open then why did a previous administration close it?

Looking out to future City budgets if the pool was losing $300,000 or $500,000 every year who would be tasked with footing the bill? Would the nearby well-heeled residents in the Town of Palm Beach help with the shortfalls funding this ‘precious amenity’?

The point here is the pool was ignored as an amenity for many years even though its value was used to compute the percentage of the ‘renovation’ to the Casino building. But the so-called renovation wasn’t a renovation at all. It was new construction. The pool was just the distraction.

The IG had a thing or two to say
about that back in 2011.

Click on images to enlarge:

So. Still think constructing a new pool at the Beach is a good idea? Now let’s examine the CCCL:

The subtitle in The Coastal Star: “At issue is
whether building should continue east of
Coastal Construction Line”

Here are two excerpts from the article datelined August 30th last year, 1½ weeks prior to Hurricane Irma’s arrival:

     The state has OK’d nearly all applications to build seaward of what is called the Coastal Construction Control Line in the past 10 years, according to a local spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
     The mansions and condos, including sea walls and swimming pools, lie perilously close to the ocean. Some of the pools and sea walls washed away in October 2012 when Hurricane Sandy brushed the South Florida coast.

and. . .

     Why are these applications approved? In Florida, property rights are highly regarded.

     The only time a person is guaranteed a 12-person jury is when the government wants to take your life — or your property. The state Legislature passed the Bert J. Harris Act in 1995, strengthening a property owner’s rights. The act, toughened in 2015, reads that local governments must prove that not allowing owners to use their property would be in the public’s interest.

Whilst on the topic of the Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL), the ‘renovated’ Lake Worth Casino is mostly east of the line (see image below) and the CCCL actually straddles our now-condemned municipal pool at the Lake Worth Beach.

Now that the City of Lake Worth is considering another project at the Beach, a City project using taxpayer dollars will the public accept future structures east of the CCCL? That remains to be seen. It was announced early on in the process the City would not seek a “private-public partnership”; however, with budgetary constraints that may be one of the few options available.

Moving on. . .

This image is from a presentation given at the City Commission in May 2017 (red line is the CCCL):

Hurricane Matthew in 2016 was a small test. Irma wasn’t the “monster” like Frances and Jeanne in 2004 and then Wilma in 2005. The newest Casino complex at the Lake Worth Beach, completed in 2012, has yet to be fully tested.

So in conclusion. Still think constructing a new lap swimming pool at the Lake Worth Beach is a good idea?

Now the rest is up to you.

Contact your elected leaders and tell them you support another location or even two locations for a public pool in this City.