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Here’s The Scoop … “Sticking It” To Your Local “Leaders” In Lauderdale-ByThe-Sea … Part Three …

March 26, 2011 by Barbara

STICKER SHOCK? ….. “YES” … “X” … “LOVE IT” …”IN YOUR DREAMS”…”DON’T CARE”…. will be compiled for the 4/5/2011 meeting….

Dear Readers … the final Resident Input Meeting took place this morning in Jarvis Hall …It began at 10 am after a 9 am meeting for the April 23, 2011 Easter-By-The-Sea event volunteer committee meeting headed up by this year’s chair, Mayor Minnet…

When this writer asked a few of those in attendance if they were going to stick around for the final input session the response was the same…they did  their part in years past…their efforts were gathering dust up  a shelf somewhere and they were taking a pass…. Despite my best efforts I could not persuade them to reconsider and put their “sticky” up on the walls to have at least some say in the current rendition of the Town’s future redevelopment plans…

There was a bigger crowd as it turned out…3-4 times as many…. although again due in large part to those who had been at the prior two input meetings as well as commissioners and staff…This writer originally attended in order to return to the table in order to address the Residential Neighborhoods which as previously posted were set aside when the discussion time ran amok as we dealt with Economic Vitality..

What I did not realize until this morning was at the second meeting held on the 24th one table was MIA to all who came excluding two more important components to the Master Plan…El Mar Drive and El Prado/Town Hall/ Community Center…So I will include those in this additional post…

Again there were facilitators at each table …TM Connie Hoffmann, Asst. TM Bud Bentley and resident David Nixon … TM Hoffmann explained the way the meeting would run and added that the compilation of all the comments made on the boards placed on the surrounding walls would be presented to the commission by RMA (consultant Chris Brown) at the April 5, 2011 presentation in Jarvis Hall at 7 pm…

This writer began this session at that third table with TM Hoffmann facilitating and will include the topics below as well as some comments made…

El Mar Drive…

1. Make the streetscape cater to bicyclists, pedestrians and beach users rather than to cars… A longtime resident joined another longtime resident in stating what El Mar Drive looked like in the late 40’s with wider medians and one lane…They did add there was no bridge at that time over the intracoastal and fewer hotels… The medians were 35 ft. rather than 20ft… They spoke of asking businesses to request smaller delivery trucks as is done elsewhere when asked to address the problems 0ne-lane would cause when faced with the everyday deliveries required by the local businesses in the center of town… There was also talk of cutting back or removing the median on El Mar Dr. between Ham N’Eggs and Village Grill to accommodate the trucks …a specified area that takes them out of the passing traffic…Most were for no traffic from A1A to the ocean…This writer and a few others were not… stating the need to get to Aruba Beach Cafe and the Pier…

2. Add street furniture, landscaping including shade trees and other amenities for pedestrians …was not discussed…

3. Maintain two lanes in each direction, but designate the inside lanes adjacent to the median to be multi-purpose lanes. The primary users of the multi-purpose lane should be walkers, joggers, bicyclists and it will also be used for parking for major Town events. The multi-purpose lane should be differentiated in some way (texture, pavers, color, raised pavement, etc.) from the travel lane…Again the talk was of one lane…inside lane becomes for walking and bikes… Problems of state requirements for bikers lane location were introduced once again by one commissioner as well as the in the median walkways previously accepted by the prior commission being dumped after the public denounced it big time … The thought was no one would walk beside the medians either… In the end it was a great divide over those who think the public can be educated and adapt to where they are to walk and bike ride vs. those who believe walkers and bike riders will go where they want to go…

4. Widen the sidewalks to 6′…no discussion…

5. Keep a landscaped center median with irrigation and add lighting in the medians…no discussion…

6. Bury the utility poles & wires…no discussion…currently the Commission directed the Town Manager at the March 22nd Commission meeting to go out for 3 quotes from companies that would do the study… The gentleman I spoke to at the previous meeting who would not stick around stated after I informed him that the plans for that are also somewhere on the shelf and there was a cheaper way to get that info…He was again shaking his head on another repeat of past studies…

7. Improve drainage to eliminate ponding… no discussion …

El Prado/Town Hall/ Community Center

1. Redevelop Town Hall Complex to more effectively utilize the site and house government functions in a more architecturally striking building… The TM spoke about the acreage we have 3 acres including the public safety building…This writer spoke of the plans that were shown in 2005 of the complex that would house the Town Hall, Recreation Center, Town Departments, Police and Fire as well as bus service, parking as another resident in attendance at the same meeting back then added the rooftop views… There was universal agreement from all in support of such a complex in the present location …

2. Incorporate a community center and a senior recreational facility into the new Town Hall complex…discussed in #1…

3. Make El Prado Park the Town’s secondary oceanfront destination…no discussion although it was touched upon in #1 and this writer spoke of  the addition seen this morning of the 2 seashell that were shown to the MPSC for possible “caps” for the FDOT A1A sitting walls being attached to the entry stairs in El Prado leading to the beach…It has been a pleasure to walk around the town and see the touches of “whimsy” the new administration has added to various locations in town…

4. Improve the identity of the park by adding signage for the park holding functions there (e.g. concerts, plays, a weekend market)… Some brief discussion on what had been covered previously  as well as previous comments by TM Hoffmann of signage coming for the lots and other areas…

5. Consider adding a bandstand that does not block the view of the sea… no discussion…

As we finished each table we were to take the “stickys” and place them on the wall under each item…If you voted previously you could not vote again …although you could change your “sticky”…Alas at the end of today’s meeting some in attendance were double and triple “sticky-ing” there “stickys”… perhaps skewing the compilation?…

The other items previously posted were again discussed at the two other tables facilitated by Asst. TM Bentley who reminded us all once again not to go into details or design areas and to be respectful and not swear at those who disagree with you…(He would not elaborate when asked who had done so)…and David Nixon who handily made a final synopsis of the consensus he heard from the participants at his table after each item was completed…

New comments were made including a return to the neighborhood signage issue (see prev. post)  and the overwhelming remarks that it should not be throughout town and look like the entry sign chosen and installed at Bel-Air…The universal agreement to allow for dropping off beach-goers and handicapped/elderly persons …Sandra Booth added that every Tues. morning at 6:45 there is a large group of handicapped children who come to enjoy the ocean views…This writer reminded the Asst, TM of supplying the previous TM and staff with “mobi mats” information which allows access onto the beach for wheelchairs and walkers…It never went anywhere… Further discussion on the hotel/motel aid offered from the Town (see prev. post)…resulted in another universal show of agreeing to do so with matching grants and permit help …Also there was agreement on marketing although the caveat was after the hotel/motels were up to par to do so…That all agreed would come with the Town actively looking to replace the anchoring (Pine & Palm) hotels with national name brand hotels … All wanted to retain hotels/motels in LBTS…  Anchor restaurants were also discussed for the west of A1A area but new building done with private funds seemed to be preferred unofficially… The parking garage was still a mixed bag when discussed as well as having a parking problem or not…and if it is an issue or not… Residential Neighborhoods brought forth that the worst offenders of speeding in neighborhoods are those who live there!… There was also reminders made of past ideas of round-a-bouts and cutting off access…This writer asked about signage stating local traffic only…Comm. Vincent added we need better policing as well …On neighborhood storm drainage the answer was yes from all seated at the table…This writer reminded them it is already scheduled in the budget going forth…

With that the noon hour was upon us and the Mayor reminded all of the April 5th meeting once more and the last Resident Input meeting was put to bed …

More to come…when RMA comes forth with their presentation…

Post Division

Here’s The Scoop …Last Chance To “Stick It” To Your Local “Leaders” …In Lauderdale-By-The-Sea … Part Two …

March 25, 2011 by Barbara

TELL EM’ HOW YOU REALLY FEEL …

For Part One Scroll Down…

Dear Readers …continuing on with the items to be addressed at the LBTS Resident Input Series …

Residential Neighborhoods…

This is the one this writer is returning to address tomorrow at the last Res. Input Meeting at 10 am in Jarvis Hall due to running out of time at our table when addressing the Economic Vitality component and the need to change tables with the other group … I will give and post my comments there but also include my “take” below each numbered item below…

1. Create neighborhood entrance signage that reflect the individuality of the neighborhood but also indicates that is part of LBTS (e.g. Silver Shore, a Lauderdale-By-The-Sea community or Silver Shores of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea)…. This one seems to go back  and forth between those calling for  town-wide uniformed signage vs. individuality for each “neighborhood”…The Commission will return to this topic at their Roundtable meeting on April12th after it returned to the Commission after discussion at the March 8th Roundtable due to Terra Mar Island now adding a laundry list of items onto their signage/gate request!… This writer received an e-mail over the previous weekend from a “concerned citizen” from Terra Mar stating some dissension among the “neighbors” in that enclave and just who was pushing for all this and who was not as well as the previous president of the association being at odds with the present association president…It reminded me of the tensions that arose during the Bel-Air street sign name change a few years back… In that e-mail was a copy of an e-mail sent to members from the previous president stating some unwanted strong-arming was going on aimed with consequences to Commissioners not getting on board with the desired changes for the entry of to Terra Mar … These now include a camera, stamped-brick crosswalk, lighting  etc… in addition to a new sign and gate… The Mayor stood up to list and took issue with it after being one of two members putting this on the March Roundtable to discuss…She changed her stance at that time of entryway signage and who would pay for them…Mayor Minnet used Bel Air an example of the status quo of no residential neighborhood funds being required to obtain signage…What mayor Minnet disregarded in her change of heart was Bel Air had their sign removed by unilateral action of the previous Town Manager without any heads-up to the Commission or the residents… This writer was less than happy to hear the change in the signage for neighborhoods at that March Roundtable and believes each neighborhood should continue to come and ask for signage when and if it is desired by a majority…with no decision made for them or inflicted upon them by a few neighbors and/or the Commission-Administration…(A look at the video show Comm. Vincent making this very assertion despite going at VM Dodd asserting he had said no such thing…He did!)… Comm. Clottey was among those on the dais along with the Mayor asking for this to come back to discuss …Comm. Clottey was away when it was addressed at the previous Roundtable…

2. Improve storm drainage … Yes..Lake Colon..Lake Colon…Lake Colon…as well as the residential neighborhoods (still!) …Speaking of the former TM …Did anyone catch the last Town Financial Report located on the Town website (after being MIA) .. it is on the right hand side of the home page under more Town business …2nd down under latest monthly reports …page 2 of the memo states some “noteworthy items”…including this one… ” The Town received a credit from the State of Florida Unemployment Division in the amount of $7150. after we notified them that the former Town Manager was receiving unemployment benefits and collecting retirement pay at the same time. We understand she reimbursed the state.”…HA!…

3. Identify those residential streets where traffic is excessive and address it through traffic calming measures… Hmmm… this is about where I came in…with talks in 2005-2006 of speed-bumps…round-a-bouts… and street closures in Silver Shores making it so those on Washingtonia would have to go A1A to Commercial Blvd. etc… OH MY!….

4. Improve street lighting and utilize smaller scale street furniture and decorative light poles & luminaries. Offer choices of approved styles from which neighborhoods can select… Again, cookie-cutter … allowed styles?… Go back and look at the Comm. meetings from 2005 on…with allowed awnings…Mediterranean style and certain shade pallets allowable for painting…Why take away from a more eclectic style allowing for individuality and being inclusive of old and new?…Lighting is a must in the neighborhoods as is infrastructure-street re- surfacing as were spelled out in the priorities list not so long ago…

5. Use common design elements to make all neighborhoods interconnected in some way (art or designs that tie the Town together)…Ditto from above…individuality is key in this writer’s opinion…

Commercial Blvd And A1A Roadways… The Asst. TM…Bud Bentley facilitated this portion of the evening’s discussion for each group …He wanted us to concentrate on the importance of each component and not the specifics of design or cost… His point fell on deaf ears for the most part just as it did at the  MPSC meetings…although he was not shy about reining in those who veered off-course and getting back on topic in order to move along in the allotted time….

1. Create a more pedestrian-friendly environment (with trees, landscaping, improved sidewalks, crosswalks)…

a. On Commercial Boulevard east of A1A… This was agreed upon as a top priority…Lake Colon…drainage…widen sidewalks…remove or cut back the medians allowing a “circle”or round-a-bout  to remain in front of the Commercial Blvd. Pavilion in order to allow for an easy turning radius for cars ….There was some of the back and forth over pedestrian only from A1A to the beach in this area or not…This writer is a member of the “Not” group when it comes to this topic…seeing no reason for not continuing to allow patrons access to curbside drop-offs to the beach…Aruba Beach Cafe (the biggest restaurant attraction draw in town) …and the Pier parking for fishing allowed 24/7 …I do believe when we do the drainage we should cutback and/or remove or reconfigure the median as was  supposed to happen when the pavilion was built…widen the sidewalks and accommodate the tourists, patrons and locals who await their names being called to dine at one of the three thriving venues that encompass that area…

b. On Commercial Boulevard west of A1A…A scroll to the part one covers this one…universally it’s a given to help in pedestrian traffic heading to the shops and restaurants on that side of A1A…

c. On the entire length of A1A… Asst. TM Bentley added it needed to be clarified this meant from Pine to Palm (and beyond to the town limits south)… due to the A1A FDOT project in the works north at the present time…Note to Mr. Bentley ..it is Pine not “Pines”… This writer also warned Mr. Bentley to make sure the pine trees on Pine were not included or affected in any future plans…Another resident stated there were not enough chairs in Jarvis if they were put in the mix!… The consensus was back-out parking was here to stay and deal with and ultimately ignore in how to spruce the corridor up …with the emphasis according to Bentley going to the right-of-ways…The facades on those motels/apartments was added in enhancing the experience as well …

2. Improve the pedestrian interface at the section of Commercial Blvd. and A1A… To build a bridge or not…Paul Novak is still a proponent of the bridge while the consensus of those at the table was scratch that and try some common-sense approaches to the pedestrian crosswalk nightmare that is ongoing…Asst. TM Bentley stated some traffic studies were being done while we are inundated with pedestrians this spring break which should add something to the input provided to FDOT … The common-sense ideas included By The Sea Future Ed. Mark Brown’s idea for allowing east-west pedestrian travel only on the south side of Commercial Blvd…Changing the turn signal to turn north onto A1A to allow for the turn after the traffic goes east-west as is the case on Sunrise in Fort Lauderdale going east when turning onto Bayview Drive… or making it all traffic stops in all directions to allow for pedestrian crossing as is done in other towns across  the nation…

3. Improve the aesthetic appearance of the alleyways north and south of Commercial Boulevard…This writer spoke of the 2005 Master Plan which showed renderings of alley usage being pedestrian with benches and street vendor carts…It was a positive addition of what LBTS uniquely offers with our west to east easy access to the beach from neighborhoods throughout town…One member of the group added that original plats of the town show these alleys are town- owned property and were intended for that use… maps of this were shown and said to have been turned over to former Dir. of Development Jeff Bowman…( Jeff is now classified as the Zoning and Code Compliance Supervisor and Asst. TM Bentley and doing double duty as Asst. TM and Acting Dir. of Development) …..

4. Maintain & improve vistas to the sea…This writer mentioned Minto’s sales office and the lack of vistas offered as well as the illegal trailer being used without a time period imposed for removal per code… The Vice Mayor added that overgrown plantings etc…have also precluded vistas at the Minto building on the beachfront…The Asst. TM said code was murky in specifics at the present time  when it comes to these vistas and the requirements being enforceable… P & Z will undoubtedly be seeing this item asap… An aside on P & Z…How many meetings can a  member miss without automatically being replaced?…Hmmm… another one that’s murky in the specifics at the present time …I am told it use to be miss three in a row and you’re out!…

5. Color contrast the bicycle lane on A1A so it more clearly-defined…The universal guffaw was heard among those sitting at our table …keep the line..allowed feet required for a bike lane and forget about it …because the bike riders like the walkers go wherever they want to anyhoooo….

6. Create Multiple Transportation Mode e.g. bike sharing, water taxi, pedicabs, trolleys, more bike racks… A few at out table alerted us to the pitfalls to come with the bike sharing program we are to participate in as presented by the company a few commission meetings back…They said the 30 minute required check-in time was problematic as well as a rude awakening if a rider arrives at a bike rack and that rack is full…The rider is stuck to go and find a rack that can accommodate their returned bike!…  Hopefully the Town will be on top of this before it happens and will carefully watch the towns using this service before it makes its way to LBTS… On the subject of the water taxi I asked the Asst. TM if the Town owned  any property that goes to the intracoastal near the Comm. Blvd. bridge… He replied they think they may have located a right-of-way that does…I responded that being the case we should make some wooden (or composite) entry and signage as well as the previously stated “footprints” to make it known…sign on with the water taxi in Fort Lauderdale who apparently is desirous to come to LBTS according to one resident at the table and market it accordingly!… As far as pedicabs…I see that problematic due to the width of them and the over-crowding we already endure from pedestrians…cars and single bikes …

In conclusion…it is this writer’s opinion that there are priorities that need to be put back on the radar  and addressed  such as the infrastructure (sewers) …What have we found out thus far from Televac (whom we annually contract with) ?…Are we going to be faced with an all-out sewer replacement from Pine ave south…or is it not as dire and we will be able to line a good portion of the sewers over a longer period of time?… Can’t we find a ballpark figure of what the cost of underground utilities would be with research of other municipalities who have recently done so either through their own studies or implementation?…As VM Dodd stated it would be purely for aesthetics and would not save the area from power outages…In fact after Wilma areas with underground utilities were down longer than those with above ground… Is this really something keeping future business away?… Nahhh…Do we need consultants racking up the big bucks to tell us  what we already know?…Nahhh… Do we need a parking garage?… Nahhh… Do we need to buy property with taxpayer monies at the present time?… Not as far as I am concerned…. I believe there are still plenty of local taxpayers and businesses hurting with more to come as we face increases in fees for services as well as increases in our water, sewer and fuel bills… So we should keep the millage the same… do the common-sense projects to improve the town  with an eye on what we can achieve if and  when we finally turn the corner economically in this country …

Thus far the “silent majority” of homeowners…taxpayers and businesses stance on the future of LBTS is not known …Tomorrow morning there will be one more chance to “stick it” to your local “leaders” before decisions are made by those “leaders” and by the “silent Majority” at the voting booth in 2012!…

Jarvis Hall…10 am-noon… Be there and be ready to place your “stickys” to the walls inside the hall!…

More to come…

Post Division

Here’s The Scoop … Last Chance To “Stick It” To Your Local “Leaders” In Lauderdale-By-The-Sea … Part One …

March 25, 2011 by Barbara

BEFORE THE FINAL GAVEL FALLS PUT IN YOUR TWO CENTS!….

Dear Readers … as this  writer still digests the March 22, 2011 LBTS Commission meeting post I thought it important to post on the Residential Input Series for the Town’s Master Plan 2011 …Last night was the second of three with the third and last one tomorrow morning in Jarvis Hall  at 10am-noon… It is possible a fourth chance to be a part of the mix could come after the April 5th RMA (Town Consultant Chris Brown) presentation in Jarvis Hall at 7 pm but don’t let that possibility stop you from having your “sticky” commentary included on the walls of Jarvis that will most likely be used as the catalyst of town input and opinion on the future of this town’s future development or lack thereof … If you sit this one out…instead of being the “stickee” you could be the recipient of a “sticker” shock with an increase in taxes and debt as property is bought with your tax dollars on your behalf because of a handful of approximately 10 people who showed up to the first two input meetings with  a smattering of commissioners and maybe 2-3 people not considered the “usual suspects” who come to all the town meetings…

The venue began with breaking up the group and having us sit down at two tables which are covered with sticky dots that have different remarks printed on them such as “yes” …”don’t care”…”love it!”…”X” (for nix that idea) …as well as a few blanks to put in your own comment…There were colorful index cards for writing out ideas to put up on the wall next to the item …worksheets with the areas of discussion brought forth at the MPSC meetings and aerial maps/plats and a conceptual rendering of a possible way to open up Basin Drive’s marina area to include a 2-story open type building that could house a restaurant and retail (where the Cookie Shop etc… are behind Ace Hardware with the street becoming one-way for access to the back of the shops facing Comm. Blvd.)… Once we were all seated Town Manager Connie Hoffmann  and Asst. Town Manager Bud Bentley facilitated whomever was seated at their table as PIO Steve D’Oliveira wrote down the ideas to post on the walls (for my group)…

Here are the worksheet items …plus some commentary from this writer’s discussion group and both facilitators…

Economic Vitality

1. Be an upscale casual destination for tourists & visitors from Broward, Palm Beach and Dade County… On this one the comments were to change the wording from “upscale” to “prime” after some back and forth on what “upscale” conjures up for tourists prior to their arrival to a destination… Global marketing was a must requirement as well…This writer added “Broward’s Key West without the 4 hour drive”…

2. Clean up the appearance of existing hotels, motels and stores… The TM put forth the idea of the Town offering monetary aid /incentives as is being done in other municipalities… There was also talk of the permit costs and aiding those being hit hard as described by hoteliers at the meeting they attended with RMA and reported on in last week’s edition of By The Sea Future by Ed. Mark Brown…This writer spoke of facade help long discussed by previous MPSC members for local businesses in town …The idea of taxpayer monies being used for the outside of  hotels/motels was met with mixed responses due to what it would really accomplish if the inside of these properties were not renovated and updated to meet the ever growing standards guests are looking for as well as a divide on taxpayers funding private business…

3. Encourage the development of more quality retail and service companies along Commercial Boulevard from the bridge to the beach… A no- brainer …not much discussion…This writer mentioned David Sukor’s suggestion of changing the sidewalks to veer into the strip shops adding that once you cross over the bridge at Comm. you must walk sidewalks by their shops with there being no sidewalks between the front parking lots and Comm. Blvd…

4. Capitalize on having the closest coral reef to the shore in the U.S. in promoting the Town…again no discussion…no negatives forthcoming on this topic..

5. Develop a Barrier Island Interpretive Center- a signature development with educational purpose (LBTS sea-related history, info about the reef, marine habitat) that would draw students and serve as a catalyst for economic development… The TM asked if this should be funded and run by the Town…discussion ran towards having “tours” brought forth by this writer such as are common upon visiting other towns …Other discussion was a satellite component for the Welcome Center either at a Comm. Blvd. storefront as well as a kiosk with possible beach rental equipment and board with info on such tours/info and more information being available at the current longtime Chamber location with the use of “footprints” and “whimsy” inviting tourists to saunter over the the building at the south end of Town on A1A…

6. Incorporate & promote the unique characteristics that define the community in advertising…no discussion on this topic…but don’t be surprised if this becomes a line-item at the budget meetings due to the lack of the Chamber’s involvement offered up last year and declined due to either  a lack of understanding..manpower or initiative …

7. Evaluate the feasibility of building parking garages and most efficient/effective locations in the downtown center of Town, including the possibility of a public/private garage development…This writer stuck my hand  up and went on the record once more stating emphatically I hated the “white elephant” Bougainvilla-A1A lot when it was bought  and developed thus far!…Now the Town has gone for an appraisal on the apartment building that is located on the south west corner on Bougainvilla that is for sale…This  money depleting lot has already cost us over three and a half million without the parking garage…The cost of the apartment building …in the “neighborhood” of a million more!… This writer reminded my group of the cost thus far…and the input from the private developer of the Deerfield parking garage who is taking a loss on that facility and said he would not build one here …we are 5 years away from needing one at the very least!…The TM concurred on those statements dealing with the gentleman…Adding to that I stated that seniors ans women do not like nor use parking garages due to the lack of feeling safe ..The TM stated research has shown  a parking garage was only used as a last resort … I believe the lot should be sold and become retail with parking on El Mar Drive (inside lane near median) at certain hours and surface parking elsewhere until a new Town Hall including parking is constructed…The present location of the parking lot is not “Field of Dreams” in this writer’s opinion!…

8. Keep Lauderdale-By-The-Sea’s hospitality industry focus by retaining and encouraging high-end but small-scale resorts, hotels & motels…Of course was the answer and this was pretty much covered by discussion of the less than enticing larger hotels anchoring either end of El Mar Drive and their impact as well on all those venues in-between new fascades or not!… There was a little discussion on the Bert J. Harris aspect of designating not more private use for the remaining properties such as town-homes which cannot succeed …even with the questionable at best offering up of land being used west to cover the loss as discussed by Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk a few weeks ago…

9. Adopt a nuisance abatement ordinance and actively enforce it…This is on a way to deal with those establishments that have ongoing nefarious acts that involve law enforcement..health violations  and the like and do something about it…All including this writer were enthusiastically on board with this one…It did raise a common knowledge quotient among those attending of who needs this type of enforcement and how far reaching it is … It also led to discussion on the Chamber of Commerce’s need to enforce standards for its members in order to retain membership and advertising in LBTS…The Chamber has information needed by the town already in hand and after this meeting it will be turned over to get the ball rolling on this item…

10. Redevelop Basin Drive Marina as a retail destination…This was where the conceptual rendering was shown…A great looking structure and a welcome idea down the road…pun intended… This writer believes it should be done by private business vs. public monies to make a reality…

BC- at this point approaching the noon hour and another round of appointments I need to attend to…I will post part one …with part two to come upon my return…In splitting up this post my intention and hope that readers will pass it along to others in Town to make sure the turnout tomorrow morning is a much needed-much desired packed Jarvis Hall with “stickys” running out as they are being passed around to the stakeholders and taxpayers to “stick it” to their “leaders” in LBTS on just what they do and do not want in the future of LBTS… See you there…Jarvis Hall …10 AM sharp!…

More to come… Part two…

Post Division

Here’s The Scoop … Time To Digest It All …

March 23, 2011 by Barbara

SOME OF IT WAS HARD TO STOMACH ….

Dear Readers … unlike the days when this writer dashed home and began an all-nighter in order to post what took place at the Town Commission meeting in order to have it online asap  …I need some time to digest the one I attended last night for the first time in a year before making any such attempt to write about what took place on and off the dais …

I will definitely “noodle it” all as I make my way through a myriad of appointments and obligations … while enjoying both my fast paced and leisurely walks around town checking out the old and new local restaurants and shops….. as I attend the final two Town sponsored resident input meetings tomorrow night and Saturday morning in Jarvis Hall …. adding my 2-cents with verbal comments and stickers with comments on the wall of comments made from the first resident input meeting . ….as well as catching  up with friends and of course crossing off the ever-growing to-do list sitting on my kitchen counter over the next week of my short stay home this time back…

More to come…

Post Division

Here’s The Scoop … Checks And Balances …. One Year Later …

March 17, 2011 by Barbara

CHECKS AND BALANCES … ARE IN THEY IN ORDER? ….

Dear Readers … It seems that this writer has come full circle when it comes to local politics in LBTS … The very fact that I posted once again on this site after I said goodbye in December (due to a feeling of the time being right to do so and the open and witnessing transparent government thus far ) …. and voiced some dissatisfaction and concern with the commission/ administration as well as asking in a follow-up post what the political climate is and where the local voters stand at this juncture has resulted in some former foes who became fast allies for a short time to become foes once more… Hmmm…. Quite frankly ….for proud card- carrying G.D. I. …it was never a matter of IF this would happen but WHEN!…And that when is now … or so I have been told! …

Let’s get this one straight … It is not necessary nor is it desirable for supporters of elected officials to attempt to silence those who choose to carry out what is their right and quite frankly their duty living in this country  …to speak up …to question …and voice dissent … In fact it only serves to make those who deal with the issues at hand and not the “personalities”delivering those issues speak louder and more often! ….

For this particular voter …taxpayer and resident … it is silence … apathy and a lack of transparency combined with silence imposed from a few that have long provided the perfect safety net for bad acts taking place behind the scenes whether done with purpose and/or done from a glaring lack of knowledge of the past …

As an active participant in local politics over the last 6 years I have been informed by those who came before me as well as witnessing  and uncovering many bad acts that took place behind the scenes in two past administrations …They grew in succession with fervor when allowed to do so due in large part to those supporters of whomever was in charge at that time attempting and in some cases succeeding in silencing the questioners as they circled the wagons in order to “protect” those “pals” in office or employed by the town…

Many of these bad acts never saw the light of day after they are discovered and took a lot of stubborn determination and
resiliency on the part of a few vigilant people to see they were made public and those involved were held accountable….Many such bad acts are still being revealed long after the perpetrators are long gone or covered by legal agreements that lets them off the hook ….We’ve seen acts of manipulating minutes …acts of closing down a fire department after a loss at the polls … preferential treatment of funding “pet projects” ….behind the scenes direction to “subsidize” (for lack of a better term) … services such as the sewers in both the Sea Ranch Club/SRL North Condos and the south end of town …drummed up criteria to garner votes from the Palm Club at one point in time and feigned ignorance ….(that too was definitely drummed up …. in this writer’s opinion) ….when those votes were not coming forth years later ….a lack of backup materials or bogus backup materials supplied to trusting majorities on the dais by past administrators and past attorneys along with perhaps one or two fellow dais members that produced votes that ended up costing the taxpayers the big bucks …such as the former audit multi-year contract…the former Town Manager’s contract …as well as other sub-standard contracts such as solid waste or west warehouse Realtor to name a few… We had a lack of forthcoming information on how much money we actually had on hand and where it was …. There was unilateral action taken by former Town Managers concerning hiring department heads that didn’t fit the job description by intentionally thwarting those potential candidates for the position in the lack of advertising in the town’s policy required venues … The same unilateral action was taken with “favored” contractors as well as town projects such as the Commercial Blvd. Pavilion ….

Knowing all of that ….and not forgetting all of that …..there is no way this writer or any other well informed constituent should let down their guard and stop watching or questioning the current commission/administration in exactly the same manner! …. There are some questionable and disconcerting situations I see that definitely give me pause …so much so that at times I have felt some unwanted familiar pangs in my gut …  I stated in my goodbye post last Dec. I would continue to be engaged and participate and that is exactly what I am doing…

Here are some of my concerns … I feel this commission/administration after being “on a roll” for the first 3-4 months has stalled and faltered in the months that followed to the present….

I believe the commission meeting -roundtable experiment offered up by Town Atty. Richard Weiss at the procedural meeting at the start of the new term has failed miserably and should be scratched…The intent was really never implemented (the roundtable was to be the longer meeting allowing discussion of new ideas from the staff or commissioners to see if there was consensus to go forward and the commission meetings were to be shorter due to less discussion and consensus formed at the roundtable discussions) …After seeing the recent addition to the roundtables of having presentations and last minute special meetings to allow voting this Aventura model of governing is simply not conducive to LBTS….

I was hoping for a continued line out the door of  “at will” employees who were employed and in some cases elevated to positions beyond their abilities (in this writer’s opinion) as well as “outside the box” implementation of contracting out for town services in order to streamline the number of 30-40+ hour employees with full health insurance, benefits and pensions we currently employ … Do we really need an accountant and two account specialists to work under the Finance Director in a town this size? … (Do we really need a supervisor of Community Standards a department this writer long ago wrote about as a “bogus” dept. …that was implemented under a former Town Manager as a catch-all to skew the numbers of employees and salaries from other departments )…

The town website has been updated to a certain extent but in the process a good  portion of the backup materials for special meetings/workshops and board/committee meetings is now gone …A big loss in this writer’s opinion due to the importance of having what materials were supplied to those making important decisions at the time being available after the fact… Old bad acts of improper or absent backup supplied screams out for those backup materials to remain online…. Also MIA has been the quarterly finance report as promised when the monthly report was canned on the advice of the Town Manager.. If it had been available when it was supposed to be the next concern of mine might have been known earlier …

Consultants …A whole new slew of them … As of now we have spent or are in contract to spend over $125,000 in consultant fees over and beyond the employees still on the payroll … The Commission asked for the list of them at a roundtable meeting a few months back and were provided the list soon after, although it was not included on the Town website in the backup report (it was just noted it was emailed to the commissioners) …Those consultants were unknown to the commission as well as the taxpayers …They were hired under the Town Manager’s $15,000 cap allowance which coincidentally is now under consideration with the advisement of the TM to increase it to $20,000 along with increases in other depts. in the proposed updated purchasing manual..The purchasing manual updates were also done by a consultant… A good portion of those consultants hired are being used for the Master Plan revision …which in turn leads me to the next major concern I have …

The Master Plan…It was my understanding that the commission early on when asked for direction advised the Town Manager to simply revise the 2004 Master Plan ….not to redo it!.. While the wording used since then is it is a revision ….the process I have been watching says otherwise with the cost of consultants…along with the extensive time used thus far by town staff, boards and committees … When it appeared the MPSC was doing a do-over the TM was sent in and directed by the commission to lead them through the revision….What resulted were TM “exercises” that only led to more time wasted with those members who either had no knowledge of the past or did not care to pursue any input from those sitting at the table who possessed it all…  To say it was nerve-racking is putting it kindly… Former Town Planner and current long -time contracted town consultant  Walter Keller … presented the committee with concise pages of what was accomplished, abolished and left to do in the 2004 Master Plan …It went right out the window …

This writer made a public records request for some reports including the Goodkin Report prepared for the town in Aug. 2004  … Thus far, in this long drawn out process of updating the plan which has included not only the use of consultants but three programs with speakers (poorly attended after the first speaker, David Sukor)…one meeting for the retail businesses (one new retailer to town showed up) …followed by one hoteliers meeting (well attended and informative I am told but unfortunately not recorded for all to see)…. and one resident input meeting ( approx 10 in attendance on a Sat. morning which involved overtime for staff and opening Jarvis Hall … The next two are on the 24th 7-9 pm and 26th 10-noon in Jarvis Hall) ….I have not seen or heard anything improving upon what was contained in that Goodkin Report or the 2004 Master Plan!…

Sometime before the April 12th roundtable the Town is set to have RMA to present their findings… Leading that presentation will be Chris Brown, the man who led the way for Delray Beach being revitalized and is currently the Pompano Beach consultant on their redevelopment He impressed many when he spoke at an earlier meeting which led to his hiring … Although the roundtable is 3 weeks out no date has been shown which seems to be a running pattern for all these presentations and meetings ….For this writer this will be the finale of sorts to see what if anything goes beyond what we already had on the shelves and in the hands of the current TM, Commission, MPSC , speakers and newly hired consultants……The Fort Lauderdale consultant (contracted at up to $15,000) was bumped when there was yet another scheduling snafu (Town Clerk White strikes again?) with the parking exemption workshop taking its already scheduled time… There has been no talk of a rescheduled presentation…

The MPSC was ultimately disbanded at the March 8th roundtable after statements made by a few members at their Feb. meeting they had completed their revisions and did not know what else to work on….A new advisory board will be added .. an Economic Viability /Task Force Committee…The TM stated RMA would give insight on what it would entail and they would recommend the criteria needed in order to sit on the committee ….It is hoped by many that the end of this “revision” will come at that April 12th roundtable …

The result of this ongoing, disjointed journey to update the Town’s 2004 Master Plan has been many of those priorities made by the incoming commission that have been sidelined or ignored in making their way back to the dais or table to address and get moving on…

Let me just add at this point that politics like sports allows for Monday morning quarterbacking…and so I will do that now on the issue of the Master Plan revision… After finally finding out about the consultants hired by the Town Manager I believe she should have advised the full commission she was going to do so and then when asked by the commission to “lead” the boards and committees she ought to have called for a moratorium while the consultants did their work …Then there should have been a few meetings with a roundtable of the consultants armed with the previous reports the town had in 2004 to give their take on any additions or deletions required along with those constituents, businesses and consultants still around who participated and implemented the 2004 plan …This should have been combined with input from all residents and businesses …Of course I also would have wanted an all-out marketing of these meetings done well in advance in many different venues in order to be sure we had the same full to capacity Jarvis Hall turnout seen in the photos of the 2004 Master Plan resident meetings….

I am always looking for a beginning—a middle and and an end with anything being implemented large or small …A completed package tied neatly together with the proverbial bow ….Unfortunately that seems to be amiss once again big- time whether at monthly commission meetings/roundtables or with this project with new people placed at the helm…

We have seen three months of the Town Manager reports not being addressed on the dais and heard old familiar statements of the late hour being the reason (although some reports lack updated information in the backup)…The TM and TAtty. reports will now be moved back to behind the public safety reports as they were when this happened under the previous TM…. As nice as this TM may be the expectations must be the same for the position held and not the person holding it…

I was a strong proponent of the full parking exemption plan with no caps and a full- out marketing campaign to ignite some excitement for businesses to come to our town…It was avidly supported by Vice Mayor Dodd and Comm. Sasser (who have suddenly become the minority on the dais) …That too fell on some disconcerting behind the scenes lobbying from the administration to counter it and unnecessarily complicate it …There was major waffling that came from Commissioner Vincent and I was really saddened that it faltered as long and as badly as it did… I was happy to see former Chamber President Paul Novak, the first vocal advocate of the parking exemption at a MPSC meeting he chaired a few years back go out on a limb and write about it although I hoped he would have been joined by more businesses coming consistently to the podium as this issue dragged on… Only longtime resident and P & Z Vice- Chair Yann Brandt was consistent at trying to drive home the win-win this would be at the podium as well as on the dais at P & Z board meetings  …..Recent news in the Sentinel of a couple of big- time investors buying small motels near the beach in Ft. Laud. show that there is a future to be had in hospitality …in the right place with the doors “open for business” which can only happen if you have a reason to invest and a town that offers great customer service to those starting a business without endless impediments that result in jumping through hoop after hoop ….

This writer also strongly believes that business comes before parking and not the other way around in this town….Those with considerable knowledge in this area have affirmed the following…You get the great restaurants to come…retailers will follow…You get first-rate global marketing of coming to this unique tourist destination in south Florida with the widest beach around for miles  ..A pedestrian friendly town with weekly and monthly special events held in our popular and historic town square … Add to that an investor or two who can buy out and take over the two larger hotels at either end of El Mar Drive making them the first class anchor resorts they should be which would ultimately lead to the MIMO type small boutique hotels-motels in between them being updated thus allowing them to charge the big bucks for lodgers as they do successfully in Key West at their Bed and Breakfasts…Visitors would come assured they never have to leave town limits or use their cars unless they want to during their entire stay ….

The coral reef project particularly concerns me due to the past inaction to this vendor and the failure by the full commission to do what we would have done with any other provider …look elsewhere for an alternative …As previously posted, we did not have to look far …A successful reef restoration project is right up the road in Fort Lauderdale… Instead we played cat and mouse citing monies already invested … A lame excuse ….remember the amount shelved for the Jarvis Hall enclosure? …We also extended out a longer contract for monitoring and maintenance for more money …We will see if and when this project becomes a reality so many years after it began…

Lake Colon… Lake Colon …doomed to rise again and again from the Commercial Blvd Pavilion to the Village Grille or beyond, now that it has pushed off to the summer of 2012 due in large part I believe to the Master Plan implementation and the parking exemption issue taking priority…This was an election issue…Former Vice Mayor McIntee downplayed its importance while the current commissioners/ mayor running as candidates vehemently disagreed… So what gives? …

Again, this Monday morning quarterback will give my take on what I would have liked to see happen… I would want this project done asap along with improvements in that general area such as parallel parking (I am not a believer in the reality of no cars east of A1A)…widened sidewalks…historic and informative signage and beach friendly rentals of chairs etc….for the newly approved water activities and coral reef restoration (a positive action taken by the commission …well done) ….and cutting back and/or getting rid of the medians to show those who want nothing done in this town and those who want “the whole enchilada” that a project can actually be done well from start to finish…It would certainly be a first for this town …I would have also liked to have seen some implementation of possibly moving the sidewalks west of A1A in order to veer pedestrians to those businesses in the strip malls with parking lots in front until the economy kicks in and the former plan of reversing the buildings and those parking lots when those buildings are bought and replaced…

On the issue of the “found” millions we have in various bank accounts … should surprise no one… John Thompson is on the record for coming to the podium for years asking about where the money was each time the emergency funds were increased at the budget meetings…Often he was there alone….A hotelier-resident spent a lot of time going over the yearly CAFR when they were finally released connecting the dots ultimately seeing the ever-growing surplus amounts stockpiled …Their questioning was met with stonewalled responses at best… But alas we found out in the Town Manager’s report a few months back that 2 million was transferred to the Bank United facility in town and put into CDs without the knowledge of the full commission…That was followed up with  statements of more funds that would soon be moved as well … Disconcerting?  ..Yes!….Not long ago it was an issue when an account was opened for the VFD beach patrol when it was decided they could not be funded by the fire assessment and that was for approximately $40,000….

One more point on the “found” millions… I am of the opinion that it should be used in part to deal with the expected BSO contract increases (no regular updates/discussion on this priority item) …and to keep the millage rate down again for the next fiscal year… It should be possible to implement with getting back to “outside the box” staffing and fiscally responsible budgeting while addressing and acting on the other priorities of drainage and infrastructure…

I will stop here for now and simply conclude with this as I head home for a short stay and make my way to the podium for public comments at the March 22nd Commission meeting …. No one should be attempting to silence those who ask questions or voice dissent and no one who has questions, concerns or disagrees should fear those who want them to remain silent… Instead they should fear what has happens when they do nothing!…

More to come….

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Here’s The Scoop … What’s The Political Climate In Lauderdale-By-The-Sea? …

March 13, 2011 by Barbara

IN DOLLARS AND  “SENSE”….


image- http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2009_07_19_archive.html

BC- So what is the political climate one year later after the 2010 municipal election in LBTS? …. Is it one of general satisfaction overall in the current commission and the administration?…. Is the public on a whole being complacent?…. Are local voters apathetic? … What if any role will the two political action committees in town play next year for the next municipal election and are they lying in wait for a cause to circle the wagons once again? ….

The concern of this writer, still avidly observing and keeping well informed from afar is this … a lack of engagement at this point time from attending and participating in Town sponsored meetings and presentations and keeping up on what our elected officials and those they have employed are concentrating on and carrying out on our behalf leads to a small contingency making some very big decisions once again …. deja vu…

Yep … It’s really a matter of  your dollars and your sense … Truth or consequences people …truth or consequences …

More to come….

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Here’s The Scoop … 3 Months Later …

March 9, 2011 by Barbara

YOU BACK EM … AND YOU HOPE FOR THE BEST ONCE THEY ACTUALLY GOVERN….

http://www.bengallagher.com/blog/category/cartoons/page/2/

“We’re poor little lambs
who have lost our way,
Baa Baa Baa,
We’re little black sheep
who have gone astray
Baa Baa Baa.”

BC- Public Comments March 22, 2011…….

More to come? ……..

Post Division