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I walk our beautiful city everyday. Walkers see a place in an intimate way that you will never experience in a car. I would like to share some of my walking observations.
First and foremost are the fantastic workers both public and private who work their magic in the morning hours maintaining and cleaning the parks and shopping centers. We all appreciate our pristine environment but I don’t think we appreciate what that entails.
I think we can all agree that everyone who comes to Florida drives up and down A1A looking at the ocean and coastal sights. However, there is nothing along A1A that directs drivers, potential customers, to head west on Palmetto Park Road to have lunch, browse shops or further explore our city.
The curious visitors don’t know if our downtown is up Camino, Palmetto or Spanish River. I know A1A is a County Road and might have some restrictions as far as signage, but surely we can find some way to direct folks to the downtown in support of our small business owners.
Once on Palmetto Park Road drivers need further directions to both Mizner Park and Royal Palm Plaza at Mizner Blvd. On numerous occasions drivers have stopped me for directions to Mizner Park.
They have come east down Palmetto Park Road and when they see the ocean they realized they somehow missed the downtown. Confused drivers cruise our Riviera neighborhood east of the intracoastal to turn around. I’ve also had this experience while walking along Palmetto Park Road.
Let’s make downtown more visitors friendly. I suggest we also need signage for people coming downtown from the west.
Also, when you walk north through the Sanborn Square Archway on NE 1st Street, you can see and are drawn to Mizner Park when you reach the end. However, when you walk from Mizner Park through the Sanborn Square Archway heading south you will experience an “is that all there is” moment. You hit a virtual dead end.
The median is blocked with bushes and there is no direction of where to go – or even if there is a reason to go forward. Putting some signs or directions at the southern arch will help with the walkablity between Royal Palm Place and Mizner Park.
I understand the city is considering working with a consulting firm on “Way Finding” signage and parking in Downtown. I am hopeful. We choose to live in Boca Raton; it’s not a place one simply settles for to lay down roots.
I look forward to other readers’ observations on the little things that have or can make a difference in our hometown.
This problem will always exist for Boca’s downtown because the layout of it is so disjointed and not cohesive at all.
IMO The Meridian at one north ocean building should not of been a condo but it should have been a hotel. I feel this would have helped solve some of the problems you mention in the article.
Not everyone is as lucky as Delray Beach who has one single road from I95 all the way to A1A in a perfect grid pattern with low height restrictions in place on development.
On March 27, 2017, the CRA approved a work order for a consultant to evaluate way-finding sign options for the downtown.
Also, A1A is a state road.
Thank you for the information Tony.
I agree with you Barbara. When I first moved to Boca Raton I was surprised that there was no place to “hang out” after an evening meal like there is in Delray Beach or Deerfield. I was used to going back and forth to the beach on Palmetto Park Road and there were no restaurants or bars on the corner by A1A, I didn’t see people browsing or walking at night and never brought guests to dinner in Boca. It took a few months before we discovered Mizner Park and the restaurants in Royal Palm Place. When I have taken people to Mizner, sometimes they will call me later on and ask where it is because they had trouble finding it again.Signs, pretty maps or sidewalk bricks with markings would be a great improvement.
Thank you for your comment Cat. Love your suggestions. I am sure there are other residents and visitors out there with similar experiences and would love to hear ideas they might have.
Good article Barbara. My wife and I also walk daily in the downtown and agree with your observations. Key to enhancing the walking experience is to make it enjoyable. While there are some common elements of enjoyable that we can all agree on, e.g., safety, residents and visitors most likely would define enjoyable in many different ways. The challenge to the city is to identify the elements of enjoyable walking common to most residents and visitors, plan and implement them and then set out a course of continuous improvement on top of these elements.
Sanborn Square is an interesting case. The city invested heavily to enhance the infrastructure on NE 1st Ave to make it more enjoyable for walking. They removed curbs, installed pavers and added optional bollards for blocking vehicle access. The problem is that vehicles are allowed to park on the street and the bollards are never used. It is not an enjoyable walking experience. The investment was wasted. The concept of continuous improvement was not practiced after the elements of enjoyable walking were implemented.
The need for signage to help tourists and visitors enjoy all that downtown Boca has to offer is certainly a welcome idea.
However, the need to hire so called expert’s to do this needs more debate (IMHO ). Those who have commented above as well as City paid staff and others can accomplish the same without spending tens of thousands of dollars to do so?
Parking, historic locations, parks, waterfront vistas, restaurants and shopping all can have signage; along with the hopes not to create signage pollution. Many internationally accepted signs already exist – with just the need for local downtown unique logo or branding.
Perhaps, now with the focus of approving development after development slightly waning, City staff along with residents can identify these same needs ?
Simply, locals most likely know best.
Just a thought…