Blowing Smoke & Yelling Fire, Fire, Fire Over Ocean Strand


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Two weeks ago rumors began going around indicating that a development deal is imminent for the Ocean Strand property on N. Ocean Blvd.

Predictably, the reaction has been quick and clear from community voices; stay away from developing this property. What is not so clear is that, at this time, there really is no deal on any table to get excited about; no deal in front of any governmental body, or even definitively on a developer’s desk. What is happening, however, is speculation on a rumor, a myth that may or may not ever take place….

Various interest groups and individuals have now taken to social media raising opposition and stirring the emotions of those that favor no development on any Boca Raton Beach and Park properties. Some have called or texted asking what BocaWatch’s position on the Ocean Strand property might be.

With that as a backdrop, I have reached out to community contacts in an attempt to ascertain what, if anything, is contemplated, and if contemplated, why???

Here is what I have come to know:

  1. There is no formal proposal in play at this time with the Beach and Park District for development of Ocean Strand;
  2. There are conversations about the possibility of a Ritz Carlton Hotel/Condo complex with restaurant and marina at the Ocean Strand property on the west side of SR A1A with a public access tunnel under A1A leading to a refurbished beachfront with no intruding structures;
  3. The developer’s proposal contemplates an unsolicited offer to purchase the Ocean Strand property from the Beach and Park District for a reported $45 million;
  4. No official offer has been made and no design specification have been brought forward for consideration. Basically, what is in play is merely a suggestion of what might be some time in the future;
  5. The Beach and Park District has spoken on the subject at its public meeting two weeks ago indicating initial objection to any such proposal;
  6. No further actions or proposals have been made part of the public record or dialogue for consideration.

Here is the main point about Ocean Strand…

Until there is an actual proposal on the table at the District; until the District considers the unsolicited offer and/or the need for a Request for Proposal; until the District has presented anticipated budgetary shortfall, shortfalls that may be approaching near $50 million dollars, there is little to consider; little to opine on…

  • The most pressing question to ask is whether this development intrudes on our pristine Boca Raton beach and/or interrupts or interferes with the ‘World Class’ Gumbo Limbo mission and turtle operations.
  • The next question to ask is whether the Parks District has the motivation or funds to make the space more usable.
  • Third, what would the impact be to neighbors and the residents’ quality of life?

None of which is known for sure at this time. It’s clear, however, that investigating this rationally by our elected officials is in order; is in the public’s best interest.

Is it practical to always say no?

A basic rule to follow…

An absolute ‘no’ is not Warranted.   Considerations of and Contributions to the Public Good have to be considered. 

Benefits and costs to the public realm ought be the driving considerations, not how it fits in with an absolutist ideal.

At this time there is a chessboard full of potential moves for the elected officials to consider and the community to embrace.

Is it practical to yell “fire” in a movie theater?

We all know that the practical limit of free speech ends with yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theater when there is no fire, no real risk yet.  Regardless of best intentions, being passionate about what may merely be a fiction, is completely inappropriate. It’s wrong in two ways:

One, it makes people get agitated, consume time & resources, attending to a priority that turns out to be fictional instead of one that is real.

Second, it numbs people to the actual problems and make them less apt to pay attention when a genuine threat occurs.

More to follow about Ocean Strand and nearby development in the next few weeks….

Until then…let’s keep the ‘fires’ under control.

Al Zucaro,
Publisher of BocaWatch

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  1. Yes it is practical to get the news of this threat out early.
    There should NOT even be a consideration of ANY offer to purchase this land.
    If Beach and Parks needs more money for the golf course clubhouse, let them ask the city for it.
    Or WAIT on the fancy clubhouse until they have the money.
    DO NOT sell our last precious piece of intracoastal and beach front land.
    They may not want to develop this as a park now, but it will be developed as a park of some sort
    in the future. Let’s think ahead fifty years. Where would we get this type of land again? Think about the huge increase in density we are experiencing now and what is to come. We need this land for future residents. This land is across from another park and is such a peaceful spot. It is just wonderful.
    Let’s NOT give it away for $45 mil or for any amount of money. NO clubhouse is worth it!


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