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- City of Boca Raton officials want to lease the last remaining green space in Downtown Boca Raton to the Hillstone Restaurant Group under a 45-year deal, depriving residents of access to their public space.
- If successful, the Wildflower Property will be converted into a high-priced restaurant that takes up 70% of the property’s green space and residents will loose this parcel of land forever!
- By VOTING YES to the Boca Raton Question on the November 8th ballot you will help preserve the public lands on the Intracostal Waterway for public recreation and boating.
- YES TO THE BOCA RATON QUESTION, YES TO PRESERVE OUR CITY.
Over the last few weeks you may have noticed a television ad suggesting that there is a small group of ‘rich naysayers’ trying to fund a ‘private park’ on the Wildflower site at the taxpayer expense. The commercial is full of misrepresentations and misleading assertions, in essence, a big lie….
But what you may not realize is that there is some truth to the assertion that there is a group trying to deprive the Boca Raton resident(s) from enjoying their public lands along the Intracoastal Waterway.
These characters are fronted by former City Councilman/former Chamber of Commerce President Mike Arts and his chamber cohorts along with the Hillstone Restaurant Group, an out of state, California based restaurant corporation that, if these efforts are successful, will receive a 45 year sweetheart lease for their exclusive use of the land along the Intracoastal Waterway at the Palmetto Park Bridge; a lease whose terms explicitly prevent public access to the waterway for recreational purposes….a lease that by its terms will cover over 70% of the available green space with asphalt to accommodate the restaurant’s particular needs….a lease that by its terms will allow for high priced food and alcohol beverage sales from 11:00 A.M. to 2:00 A.M daily….a lease that by its terms controls recreational boat docking on the Intracoastal Waterway…..and, all this with the apparent blessing of the majority of our City Council!!!
So you ask how I know this….here’s how….
First, the Hillstone Group’s efforts to deprive Boca Raton resident(s) of this Intracoastal Waterway site are a matter of public record. The City Council, over the past two years, has meticulously moved a number of initiatives forward that would have already concluded the deal with Hillstone but for the Citizen’s petition referendum scheduled for vote on November 8th. (See BocaWatch last week: Frequently Asked Questions)
Second, the Chamber of Commerce, led by Troy McLellan, has, for the last month, been publishing inaccurate and misleading assertions about the entire Hillstone deal structure culminating with a fact sheet that is so riff with inaccuracies it is almost impossible to discern where the truth ends and the lie begins.
Third, that this effort to deprive the resident(s) of the enjoyment of their Intracoastal Waterway has engaged a Tallahassee based political influence group, Protecting Coastal Communities, a group formed by Attorney Mark Herron, an attorney infamous for his working with well-funded interest groups to influence political outcomes; in this case, Boca Raton’s November 8th ballot question preserving city owned public land(s) along the Intracoastal Waterway for recreational and boating purposes.
Fourth, and perhaps most telling, is that this Tallahassee political influence group has significant financial support to influence the general public; a public that generally is not abreast on the latest actual issues. The opposition’s effort by former and current Chamber of Commerce instigators and by the Hillstone Restaurant Group, an invested party, has recently received over One Hundred Ten Thousand Dollars ($110,000) to attempt to ‘buy’ the resident’s referendum process, in essence to ‘get’ this public land.
Sixty Thousand Dollars ($60,000) has been contributed by Mr. Arts’ organization, an organization affiliated with the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000) has been contributed directly by the Hillstone Corporation, the organization with a direct financial interest in defeating the petition referendum in November.
What more needs to be said? ….Oh Yes….
The Chamber of Commerce’s other interest in this political fight is to prove that it, the Chamber, rules the day in Boca Raton; that the residents, these upstarts, are to be put in their place, defeated, so that there is never again a challenge to the Chamber’s self-anointed power….
Moreover, the Hillstone Group is a for-profit group that is funding this effort to defeat the residents for its own pecuniary reasons; they are not being good corporate citizens…they merely are protecting their sweetheart lease deal with the City Council, a council that is so inept at negotiating this lease that Hillstone’s $50,000 contribution is mere ‘pocket change’ over the 45 year life of the proposed lease term.
Need I say more? Yes….
The thousands of residents who have signed the Petition referendum have nothing to personally gain in this fight except to preserve and enhance the quality of life in Boca Raton.
Boca Raton has used the slogan of ‘a city within a park’…
Given the position taken by the chamber, that slogan is now nothing more than lip service….
Another slogan often heard in Boca Raton rhetoric is that the city is where residents can ‘live, work, and play.’
Well, with all the overdevelopment in the downtown, Boca Raton may have actually found reality for one-third of that formula….
Some may even argue that there is adequate work to satisfy the second-third of the formula….
However, the third-third is woefully lacking…but for Sanborn Square Park, there is no urban green space or recreational facility in the downtown for the thousands of existing residents and the thousands more coming into the downtown in the very near future.
Boca Raton is no longer Boca Raton….it is no longer a city within a park…it may no longer be that great place to live, work and play….it is something different, not better, maybe worse….
Perhaps there is truth in the often heard new slogan….
’Fort BocaDale’…..the southernmost city in Palm Beach County…..
Residents….Do not be fooled by the special interests that want to deprive you of what is your public space, your Intracoastal Waterway.
Vote Yes on November 8th for the City of Boca Raton’s Referendum Question, a vote that preserves the public lands on the Intracoastal Waterway for recreational and boating purposes….
In 1972 I remember looking at all this green space and thinking this would be a great place to raise kids. I moved here in 1980 and put up a fight to get soccer, baseball, and rugby fields. I worked with lions in the community like Mickey Gomez, Art Balistreri and others to get this done. We were successful. I find it ironic that I am fighting for a small clump of grass that I can bring my grandchildren to look at the intraoastal waters…maybe throw out a fishing line and watch their eyes when they hook a small fish. As far as I am concerned we are at war. The Chamber which is full of rich elitist that want a place on the waterway for business lunch or dinners. Afterwards they fly back to New York . What about the poor and middle class that can’t afford a $50 lunch and / or dinner. I have a friend whose mother use to fish for 65 years in the intercoastal and now the possibility gone forever with a restaurant. What type of people have we become? The Chamber got their City Council and their concrete buildings. I am not fighting for myself but the honor of watching a 98 year old woman fishing at a small clump of grass on the intracoastal.
Jack I could not agree with you more. I too am a BocaRaton resident and it is sickening to see that this city is bowing down to these elitist that run our city. I am born and raised in South Florida and my parents have been here since the 50’s. Boca has turned into a city that has catered to the rich and for the snow birds from the north east and not for the middle class people. To have a little piece of land for the enjoyment for the full time residents that live here should be a priority on the minds of our city leaders. To have another overpriced resteraunt to add to the other many many overpriced resteraunts is just ludicrous. People wake up and get out and vote to save our little piece of green space that is unique. There is nothing left after it is gone.
Elitist? Lol Get over yourself. I work right next to that vacant lot and it’s disgusting. I prefer a beautiful restaurant rather then a lot where the homeless are constantly trolling around. I’m voting No
Patrick, I agree with you. I get scared when I come in contact with a trolling homeless person so I went down there and interviewed a trolling homeless person. I asked her why was she a trolling homeless person in Boca Raton. She said she was not a homeless trolling person. She said she lived in Lake Wyman Park but she liked to come down to the Intracoastal since the view was really cool. She said she liked living in Boca in the winter since she says New York was really cold. She than told me that people have no idea how beautiful Boca is but we were going to ruin it by all those big buildings and taking away the parks. She says the only other park in downtown was Sanborn but it was to little, too many bright lights, and noise from all the construction kept her up at night. I told her that Patrick doesn’t like you since you are a homeless trolling person. She said I don’t know what trolling means and she said she is not homeless since she is camping out. She has a tent, portable generator, icebox, and a cable TV. OH she said that Patrick guy must be that guy that comes over to the boat ramp and does joints at lunch time. She said she talked to him once and I told him I use to be a managing director in bonds for Morgan Stanley but got laid off. He says, oh I work for Morgan Stanley. I offered that if he gets screwed also he could come share my tent. OH he said, that is disgusting. WHAT getting laid off or fired or camping out with Maggie. That’s her name. For real. Patrick, alert alert a second homeless trolling person has been spotted at Lake Wyman. We are being infested by ex elitist New York Morgan Stanley homeless trolling people. City Council lead by Bobby Weinroth calls a special meeting to deal with this crisis. He calls Mayor Haynie at home and the city council gets together at Bobby’s house to discuss in their pajamas. When Jeremy arrives at 3am there are 7 developers with renderings of restaurants that could be put there to drive out the 2 disgusting homeless trolling persons. OH NO Mr Mullaugh brings 9 developers with their lawyers and we should build 30 story condos. YIKES says Mayor Haynie. Not in my back yard. Mr Mullaugh fell asleep. Jeremy says lets not start I am going home and back to bed. OH, by the way, who is this guy PATRICK? Tell him they are elitist campers GET OVER YOURSELF. Mind your own business. The thought of dealing with James and his cohorts for another 2 years will make me throw up.
This property has been sitting vacant for years! It currently is the place the homeless gather and the rats run free.
If the City was going to make a beautiful park and plant gardens why have they done nothing to date?
At least if they develop the land it will serve the public with opportunitys for jobs, taxes revenue and waterfront fun. These are the places that make Boca a destination for northerners to come and visit and spend money. Wake up people!
Dear Bob, YIKES DOUBLE YIKES rats running free with homeless trolling people. I just commented on HOMELESS TROLLING PEOPLE BUT NOW RATS RUNNING FREE. BOB, stop talking about rats. This will scare all the NORTHERNERS that “come and visit and spend money”. YIKES we don’t want to scare them. WE got enough problems with mosquitos.BOBBY tried to call a special meeting at 3AM, but Mayor Haynie told him to go back to bed since we have always had rats running around. NO big deal. I agree with Bob, we have a crisis. HOMELESS TROLLING PEOPLE AND RATS RUNNING FREE in boca…Not a good headline in the Palm Beach Post. The developers are UPSET. They got over 2000 condos coming to downtown Boca averaging $3 million and they NOTHENERS find out there are HOMELESS TROLLING PEOPLE AND RATS. 2000 times $3m is $6 Billion in sales. YIKES. Mr Mullaugh wakes up and says yikes and than Jeremy says OMG. Rats. I hate rats. Mayor Haynie,tougher than most says get over it. Bobby went to sleep and kicked out all the developers camping out at his house. Mayor Haynie gives the image of being a nice gentile person but she is tough as nails. Rats to her are nothing. We will fix. Mayor, that was a complement. Mr Singer is watching all this stuff and must be reconsidering running for Mayor. He must be thinking I don’t need to deal with rats.
But, Bobby has a solution. WE put together a task force composed of Boca police, County swat teams, and Federal marshals and they round up all the homeless maybe 5 or 7 and all those rats and we put them in a UBER limo and send them to back to New York. Developers will pay. And than we build a wall between Boca and surrounding areas. We make the developers pay. Now that would be a great City Hall meeting to attend.LOL
Bob, not sure where you are going with your comments. I have a story, Recently, I was at a very private cocktail party up north and I mentioned that I lived in Boca Raton. I was asked if it was true that Boca was selling off much of its city owned property. Of course , I denied any knowledge. The discussion went this way. This group of developers were discussing how there was a great opportunity to steal much of the public land in Boca such as a place called Red Reef Park and golf course, a stupid place called Gumbo Limbo that has turtles, and another golf course that they could not remember the name of. They said that they were working with the local business organization which I assumed the Chamber of Commerce. They said that the argument used was these places were unprofitable such as cages for turtles and a 9 hole golf course. They said that they were assured that Boca was easy pickings if you had dollars . I guess our fight for a clump of grass on the inter coastal is going to get really symbolic soon. If we lose this fight we can write off all of boca city owned property even maybe some of the big parks. This can’t be happening.
It was a great place to watch the boats go pass and see the beautiful view when the property was the Wildflower… once a restaurant should always be a restaurant! I much rather enjoy the view with a cocktail and great food than on a park bench!
Martha, you bring up a good point. I remember going upstairs by the dance floor in the eighties and staring out at the inter coastal enjoying the view , having a cocktail, and having a nice conversation with attractive young ladies from Ft Lauderdale. After about 2 or 3 times I could care less about the view, boats, or inter coastal. I went there to meet exciting intelligent young beautiful gals from Ft Lauderdale. As I got older even those nights got boring. Wonder why. So after a couple of months after it opened I might go there twice a year. It became an instant hit with tourists and snowbirds for maybe 4 months out of the year. It was dead for 8 months but stayed open. Your comments are similar to a young kid who presented at the city council this summer. He wanted some day a nice romantic place to get engaged and he thought a restaurant would be cool. I almost threw up. He wanted a place to get engaged so that is why he supports a restaurant.
This clump of grass was bought for one reason only , a park for all the Boca residents. Not a joint where the tourists and business elites could hang out . This is clearly confirmed by the interviews with Mayor Whelchel, Mr Barenhoff, and Mr Majhess. Now we got a city council that doesn’t care about what the past intended. What is next? Red Reef golf course or Gumbo Limbo?
I use to visit the old Wildflower site back in the eighties and here is an issue that no one remembers. Around 2004 many in Boca were very concerned at how dangerous the bar was and if a new bar went in there it could be worse. There were more DUI’s contributed to people coming out of that bar in any other bar in the area. There were several accidents every month with deaths and serious injuries. Twice there were police officers directing traffic were hit . It was so bad that Boca police stationed an officer outside the door of the Wildflower bar checking for drunks and making arrests if they got into their valet parked cars. 2 to 5 a night. This possible restaurant will have the same issue. For tourists driving out of the parking lot is difficult since pulling onto a 2 lane road which has an incline. In the nineties there was one very bad accident where a New York resident who was drunk ran down 4 locals walking their dogs killing 2 . Now the traffic issue will be a joke. Go to that corner and just look at it. Gridlock all night. The real reason Boca bought that property was to keep it from being another Wildflower. It was a very dangerous place for the residents in the area . I suggest that will be the same. Every driver coming out of that local bar which it will be will be drunk after 9 PM. We don’t need more of this nightmare every night. I would rather see there is a parking issue of mothers bringing there strollers during the day and night. Congestion for residents watching the xmas parades, and on and on. A place where I can take my grand children. There are 100,000 boca residents that want access. There are probably 50 elites that want a restaurant. Everybody knows Chamber of Commerce owned by developers and city council.
One would think there would be an aerial photo of this place somewhere in the ad.