Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Chalk Up! Street Painting Festival begins Saturday in Downtown Lake Worth.

And please remember to be grateful this weekend. Why?

Thank You City of Lake Worth and County CDBG: The 2019 Street Painting Festival and 2nd Ave. South!

This year’s Street Painting Festival will be one without a problem that has plagued the festival for 2½ decades: 2nd Avenue South.

It started a little early, but every year the Street Painting Festival season begins with the obligatory “airing of grievances” and this year 2nd Ave. South will not be one of them. The period for airing of grievances is normal and nothing to be concerned about, just the annual grumbling and complaints about parking in the Downtown neighborhoods begin.

In the not-so-distant future a new parking garage and other parking options will be coming to Downtown Lake Worth which was recent news in The Lake Worth Herald. But the airing of grievances will continue each and every Street Painting Festival but just about different stuff. It’s a tradition in L-Dub you see.

Briefly, for those unaware, the Festival Season in this City begins with the brief Festival of Trees in mid-February followed by the Street Painting Festival and then comes the Midnight Sun Festival the first weekend in March. Airing of grievances at the Midnight Sun Festival are strictly forbidden. The Finnish community will not allow it. Other small festivals follow until the Grand Finale: the Great American Raft Parade and Raft Race on July 4th where grievances are strongly encouraged.

Now back to 2nd Ave. South.

That roadway was in such terrible condition that Street Painting Festival organizers and visitors complained about it bitterly every single year. And so did the residents. And so did the boating community.

Plagued with potholes, broken sidewalks and terrible street lighting it was the bane of every Downtown event, especially so for large events like the Street Painting Festival.

But 2nd Ave. South has finally been fixed! Here is a Tweet by the City from last August:

However, one thing this City will continue to be plagued with is unworthy news reporting and terrible headline editors at The Palm Beach Post.

Coming up to last year’s festival word got out that 2nd Ave. South was slated to be completely redone and then a beat reporter from the Post got the story mixed up.

Incomplete and confusing information published in the Post needed to be clarified by City Manager Michael Bornstein at a City Commission meeting. This was after receiving many public queries from confused residents and business owners in the Downtown who thought the streets were slated to be torn apart during the 2018 Street Painting Festival due to the Neighborhood Road Bond that passed in 2016.

Completely untrue.

The funding to fix 2nd Ave. South had nothing at all to do with the 2016 bond; it was a joint project by the City of Lake Worth and the County using Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds and would begin well after the Street Painting Festival last year.

Here is how all this nonsense began.

First came this headline in January 2018, another open-ended question that should always be avoided by headline writers:

“How will Lake Worth’s road repairs affect street painting festival?”

The festival in 2018 was not affected by any road repairs in the Downtown and the headline should have reflected the lead. And then in the follow-up this is what made the print edition:

“Lake Worth road project to cause ‘pain’ ”

“Pain”? It was because of nonsense like this that newspaper was put up For-Sale in October 2017 and in May 2018 it was bought by GateHouse Media.

The Post story and headlines last year prompted this clarification from City Manager Bornstein:

Just a point of clarification and I hope people understand, 2nd Avenue South is not part of the Neighborhood Road Program. It’s not part of the bond issue.

The 2nd Ave. South project was done using CDBG money. Not money from the Neighborhood Road Bond! And it was all coordinated to not interfere with the Street Painting Festival last year. But because of the Post once again the City was forced to scramble and get the facts out to the community.

Which delves nicely into this topic: Are you a subscriber to the City of Lake Worth’s email newsletter?

To see what you’re missing use this link for all the latest news. If you would like to become a subscriber to the “Worth Noting” newsletter click on this link.

Below is a press release from last year: the City of Lake Worth about the 2nd Ave. South project. 

The short quote above by Bornstein would have been all that was necessary in a story published in The Palm Beach Post last January. But instead the public was left scratching their heads because that Post story did not clearly explain the difference between the Neighborhood Road Bond and CDBG funds. They are two completely different sources of funding for infrastructure.

And one last thing. . .

Here is a verbatim quote by Lake Worth Commissioner Omari Hardy, his comments made at the City Commission meeting on January 16th, 2018 about the Neighborhood Road Bond that passed in 2016:

“You [Commissioner Hardy addressing Water Utility Dir. Brian Shields] and the rest of the team [Public Services Dir. Jamie Brown et al.] are doing a really fantastic job. There might have been some disconnects here and there but I think overall you guys are doing an amazing job and I’m really glad that you’re on board while we’re going through this.
     I want to thank the commissioners who have been sitting on this dais longer than I have for having the courage to go for this twice.* And I want to thank the voters who approved this. Because this is really going to transform our City.
     We talk about ‘curb appeal’ all the time. The street is the part that we have ownership of and we’re finally taking responsibility for that. So I appreciate everybody who was involved with the decision-making in this process and I appreciate all you doing such a great job in the execution of it.”

*This is in reference to the first Neighborhood Road Bond referendum in August 2014 that failed by just 25 votes. In November 2016 the second bond referendum passed “by a whopping 69%”.
     Commissioner Hardy is quoted above saying, “I want to thank the commissioners who have been sitting on this dais longer than I have. . .”.
     He is referring to Mayor Pam Triolo and two other members of the City Commission: District 1 Commissioner Scott Maxwell and District 3 Commissioner and now-Vice Mayor Andy Amoroso.