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 Boca Raton Federation of Homeowners Associations had its monthly meeting on October 4th. The main topic was the upcoming November 8th ballot issue titled “City of Boca Raton Question”, known by many as Ordinance 5356.
A YES vote will provide that city owned land and parks on the Intracoastal Waterway will be preserved for use by the citizens for recreation, green space and other amenities geared to serve the public.
A NO vote will most certainly provide for a single use restaurant at the former Wildflower site dominated by an asphalt parking lot covering 70% of available land and limiting access to the property for the public at large. A NO vote further jeopardizes other City owned waterway property to commercial development.
It is up to you. Citizens paid millions for our waterfront parks over the past 40 years. Now we find the Chamber of Commerce making it their priority to sell our lands to developers, creating more brick and mortar over green space.
Jerry Fidele, President of the Chamber of Commerce, past President Randy Nobles and Troy McLellan, CEO stated at the meeting “The top priority of the Boca Chamber leadership and members is to monetize the City-owned former Wildflower property for the purposes of increasing City revenue to improve infrastructure and the downtown while creating a sense of place.” Mr. Fidele went on to say that the (Wildflower) is the initial property they wish to commercialize. And from there, each of the other parks going north will be up for monetization.
What these honorable people fail to understand is the real monetization comes from the improved quality of life enjoyed by residents and tourists alike. Current trends are undeniable. An increasing number of people desire to live in an urban community and with that they prefer settings that offer beaches, parks and green space close to downtown. These amenities offer individuals and families of all ages the opportunity to realize increased property values for what, for most residents, is the largest investment of their lives. Boca home values exceed all our neighboring communities as presented at a recent City Council meeting by the County Tax Appraiser proving Boca’s ‘city within a park’ philosophy, is doing it right.
We do not see the Chamber of Commerce in the cities such as Greenville, SC, San Antonio TX and even New York (thinking Central Park, or the High Line) trying to monetize their parks the way Boca’s Chamber of Commerce does. Just the opposite, the first two cities are expanding their green space and that is a trend happening throughout the country.
It is argued the proposed ordinance limits use of our parks. It does not. The ordinance allows commercial activities on the land in support of recreation, boating, food vendors and concessions for equipment rental. Deputy City Manager, George Brown and senior staff person, Ingrid Allen have testified to these points at a City Council meeting. Perhaps the Chamber of Commerce executives should view this video testimony so they will clearly understand this ordinance and not continue to communicate lies regarding it.
With a YES vote the City becomes the exclusive arbitrator of what activities will be allowed in our parks.
Efforts are being made to develop a plan for a creative waterfront experience on the north and south side of the Palmetto Park Bridge. The imaginative ideas will create a draw for the many thousands of downtown families and invite thousands of visitors to our intracoastal waterfront supporting all businesses and offering a choice of restaurants along the way. This waterfront destination will revitalize the east end of our downtown vs just another average restaurant for the affluent, but clearly not for all the residents to enjoy.
A YES vote confirms the will of the people regarding their right to say how our parks shall be administered.
Boca Raton does not need to monetize its parks as we have the lowest taxes of any city our size and larger in our area. In fact, a credible argument can be made that property taxes will increase due to the added value of properties fortunate to reside in a community that offers valuable amenities and recreation.
A YES vote on Nov. 8th offers the possibility that in the words of Beach and Parks District Commissioner Starkoff – “We can have our parks and eat there too”.
We can do that by not selling our greenspace to a commercial entity. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.
That lot is a dump! A park is code for habitat for the homeless – which has already happened to the park on the other side of the Palmetto bridge – where it’s too scary to bring the family for any more than a few moments. Develop the lot into a great experience for the residents of the city to enjoy. Vote NO.
M J D – Why is it those who present inaccurate and misleading information can’t put their names to what they write. Join the conversation because your ideas are important to all. Just be up front and let us know who you are. Your voice deserves to be recognized. James Hendrey
Yes MJD that lot is a dump. That is part of the reason to vote YES. I should be made into a recreation area for all residents. If a city park becomes ‘too scary’ that is a different issue that should be addressed to the Police Dept and the City Council. I attended a wonderful meeting held by councilman Scott Singer where city residents offered up great ideas for the two sides of the bridge. Vote YES and something beautiful will happen to that area.
Veronica Risko resident of BR for 36 years
If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to have the homeless take up residence in a Boca park adjacent to your home you would know that the Boca Police are pretty much powerless to do anything of consequence. The homeless also have constitutional rights that extend to public facilities such as Boca City Parks. I suggest you ask the Boca Police about their “eviction” track record in this area. I can tell you from personal experience that it is dismal, the Boca Police are pretty much handcuffed by the law and the City Attorney will give you a lot of disappointing words that will merely increase your frustration level.
If you’re living in a bubble and do not think this is a problem, I invite you to attempt to have a pleasant family dinner gathering at the Intracostal facing picnic tables at the Beautiful Silver Palm Park on the South side of Palmetto. It seems that no one is ever there, and if you go you’re very likely to discover the reason. After that experience, I invite you to republish your opinion. I suspect it will have a dramatic shift in position.
Do not be fooled by the local ultra rich intracostal residents who have mounted this twisted and misleading campaign opposing the restoration of a historic and traditionally wonderful Boca dining venue. Let’s bring this historic experience back to Boca – using investor funds that generate income for the City. By no means should we use our city tax dollars to create an attractive nuisance resulting in a habitat for the homeless. Vote NO. Mike DeLuca