This article, originally published by Al Zucaro on BocaWatch.org, is preserved for historical purposes by Massive Impressions Online Marketing in Boca Raton.
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The Wildflower Park idea brilliantly captured in these visuals by Margaret Fitzsimons has been a long time coming and is the result of many, many dedicated residents throughout the city of Boca Raton. Elected Officials purchasing the site over a decade ago; public debate on what to do with this Intracoastal Waterfront site; a hard fought citizens’ referendum vote making the final ‘democratic’ determination; and, now, our City Council about to bring to life the pronounced ‘will’ of the people. A long journey with a stellar result….Democracy working at its best!
Thank you all for these efforts…..Thank you to the Woods, the Hendreys, the O’Rourkes for their incredible dedication, then and now, to this process; and, to all the volunteers, signature gatherers, consultants, professionals, attorneys and interested residents who contributed there time, energy, talents and money to bring about this incredible result.
With the Waterfront Master Plan about to become a reality, the legacy created by this generation of Boca Raton residents for all future generations of Boca Raton residents is to bring reality to the aspiration of Boca Raton truly being a “city within a park.”
As Boca Raton continues to grow and evolve, we find ourselves at what should be a pivotal milestone in our history; a key opportunity to step back and look at the bigger picture, to create a lasting legacy in our City for generations to come. This long awaited opportunity comes in the form of the treasured public land along our Intracoastal Waterfront : the union of underutilized properties including Wildflower and Silver Palm Park.
Thanks to the ongoing voices and efforts of so many residents over the past 6 years, and the positive November 2016 vote, this dream now has the possibility of becoming a reality. We will finally see some initial ideas on July 12th from the City’s consultant EDSA, and with much anticipation, the hope is that our Waterfront will be on the way to realizing its full potential. This is where the real work begins; the pressure is on.
This significant site, which is poised to become the heart of Downtown’s East end, has the potential to spark revitalization along the entire East-West Palmetto corridor, looping in Mizner Park and providing a shopping, dining and strolling experience from Federal Highway all the way down to the Beach. Think of the economic benefits that can ensue, and most importantly, the unending rewards this active open space can bring to residents, workers, and visitors in light of the increasing density of the city.
The richness found in great waterfronts and parks today has come after long, hard-faught battles where citizen’s ideas and passion have given way to special places that unify communities. From Savannah, Chicago, Baltimore and even Manhattan’s High Line, to the local cities of Deerfield, Ft. Lauderdale and Pompano; each has a unique waterfront identity. Phenomenal examples can be found in these, and many other waterfront plans in the works, including Washington DC’s Bridge Park, and Lower Manhattan’s Coastal Resiliency project, to name a few.
In asking what makes a City World Class, we should further ask and answer, what makes a Place truly Special. Over the past years, I have joined many of you in efforts to preserve this property, and have volunteered time to analyze, benchmark, dream and contribute visions and design ideas for all these adjoined properties might become. To continue to inspire thought, I’ve shared my presentation again here, dating back to initial concepts presented to City Council in May of 2015 of joining Silver Palm and Wildflower under the bridge, and embracing the site with a continuous walking path, to the more comprehensive concepts presented throughout last year, leading up to our Visioning Session with Council member Scott Singer, now Council member Andrea O’Rourke and many great local Architectural professionals, in efforts to encourage change as we move forward.
With a carefully crafted dynamic design, the Downtown Waterfront of Boca Raton has the potential to rival the most memorable Places around the world, and its right in our own “Front Yard”, waiting to blossom. Imagine…..