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Here’s The Scoop … Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Downtown Re-development …Full Steam Ahead …

COMMISSION CONCEPTUALLY CONTENT? …

Dear Readers …this writer is short on time after watching the three and a half hour Special Meeting to discuss the conceptual designs for blocks one, two and three in downtown LBTS…  The plan is for redeveloping the blocks from Bougainvilla east to the Pavilion on Commercial Blvd… The design team we hired made a power point presentation which was made after some unnerving remarks from Mr. Corea to the Commission “I would hate to be in the position you are in. Why? Citizens don’t want to be told what they want to do. They will condemn public officials if they do it and if they don’t.”… His presentation was followed by public comment and questions followed by Commissioner questions with no opinions or comments as directed by the Mayor before the presentation began…. That was followed by a break for the design team to respond and then for the Commission to decide prompted by the Mayor to move forward or do nothing… The decision was to move forward … I encourage residents to take a look at the video which will be available on the Town’s website shortly … http://lbts.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2 …. The Commission is on record in this video stating more meetings should be allowed for the public to have another chance for input… Unfortunately questions were not asked by the Commission on how that would happen and the cost involved… The Town Manager in the backup for this meeting … http://www.lauderdalebythesea-fl.gov/town/agendabackupminutesNEW.html … stated according to the contract there were no more such public  meetings included …Hmmm…. The comments made from the public which was mostly businesses were the same comments and concerns they have had since the get-go…Those are vistas and views of the ocean and beach…The parking changes and a reduction of 40 spaces as well as handicapped spaces as well as replacing angled parking with parallel parking ( although the Urban Planner stated they would be large enough to front- in park) …The concerns were still over trees …birds and what they leave behind and lane consolidation along with alleyway changes as well as entrance into Aruba Beach Cafe and the Pier parking lot and a formal paved public seating area in the middle of block one with a crosswalk that goes across to the center of the pavilion….. Residents against the conceptual renderings and spending $2 million were old-time residents such as the Demko family members and Hannah Hempstead who spoke about the maintenance issues seen presently.. Candidate Mark Brown spoke first and spoke of personally supporting the project adding that while he does many others are not on board yet still having major reservations…Brown said there needed to be another public meeting ….He suggested as an alternative the Town consider the University of Miami’s suggestion to do one block offering up block 2 as he told the Commission there was no reason to rush forward… Later on the UM presenter made reference to Brown’s suggestion adding if they were to go that route he would expand it to the block west (block 3) as well… Another point not made in all this discussion was why the $2 million was set in stone thus making block 3 a streamlined improvement…That’s due the the competitive bid  requirements for projects over that price thus taking the project away from this group and putting it out for a wider response… Edmund Malkoon thanked the design group for such a detailed presentation and said he hoped they moved forward with it and included the west blocks adding he hoped for another meeting and said this project will carry out the uniqueness of our town. …. The Commission after a few false starts and a few digs by the Mayor to get with the program she wanted …questions only asked mostly the same questions as the public as well as Comm. Sasser asking about the lack of curbs presented with a plan of shared space with bikes…He wanted answers as well to lessening the percentage split of pedestrian/car in the blocks as well…The Vice Mayor addressed the parking and re-routing traffic south further west as a way to alleviate bottle-necking traffic as it proceeds east in less lanes…Time limits for parking were brought up by Comm. Clottey as well as alleyway changes and the legal problems with Oriana’s alleyway… Thy took a break for the design group to get together and address the comments and questions… Upon reconvening what took place was summed up by the Vice Mayor best… They returned with little change offering up  why this was such a great design… The traffic planner Ms. Hughs spoke of the influx of bikes over the weekend heading east…Residents know that is a one-time occurrence on the weekends and early morning for the speed riding teams… as well as the underutilized A1A parking lot …yep again…(will losing 40 spaces really make it more utilized?)…She spoke of the use of parking on block 1 and watching that area…This writer wonders how she can be recommending a crosswalk in the center of the turnaround if she has done so…Right now the traffic backs up all the way past El Mar with cars going in the parking lots and dropping people off at the beach…With a pedestrian walkway in the middle that seems a given for it to increase substantially… Another interesting point was that no one stated the influx of concern when the idea was going full force for the McIntee median walkways with opponents crying out about the dangers of pedestrians walking in and out of El Ma Dr. traffic to use the medians…using the downtown plaza and center crosswalk seems to this writer to be even more of a safety concern  with going in and out of traffic….(earlier the landscape designer commented that pavers will look like waves in the crosswalk and the plaza…Hmmm…isn’t that what Pompano Beach is doing?)…..The landscape presenter spoke of the trees and the roots answering Comm. Vincents concerns ..Then it was time for the Commission to make some decisions…

The Mayor was really off this evening …in this writer’s opinion… She said this meeting was like a mediation as she chose to speak first about her take on responses she received from businesses and residents …She egged the Commission on asking them to “have the courage to hear…spelling h e a r… stating that they needed do something or do nothing…Hoping they would do something… When Comm. Sasser pressed his button she was still on the courage bent citing the cowardly lion!…The consensus  was to move forward by all those on the dais with the caveat they have more meetings and address the changes discussed …parking…less percentage pedestrian/car….alleyways…sidewalks…trees… The Mayor restated many of the concerns the Commissioners finished up with and  stated this was a positive direction and the town was moving slowly which we are known to do ..She said “not everyone’s gonna be happy”…She also added she was sad that many were “catering” to cars not people citing the CO2 cars produced…going on to pontificate about pedestrians being good for business….Comm. Sasser interjected she had left off one important point he had made concerning the pavilion area roundabout and cutting down the plaza area in block 1 as well as the entrance to the Pier lot.. The Mayor not joking in this writer’s opinion said she did not do so because she did not agree …so therefor did not bring it up… Comm. Sasser never one to let such things fly in his direction responded …”Cars don’t drive themselves. People drive cars and spend money!”… The Town Manager summed up what they wanted …on block 1 …to lose less parking…reduce sidewalk on south side …access to Pier parking…and Comm. Clottey said the legality if using the egress of the Oriana alleyway…This point showed once again Clottey was stuck on the McIntee claims to keep the Pier alleyway closed ….Those assertions were dealt with long ago and verified by another face at the podium we have not seen in quite some time…resident and Oriana Atty. Susan Deleagal …who was all for the project as presented and said to move forward on it….She would meet with the design team to see if schematics could be done on some things and get back to the Commission…The Mayor allowed for more public comment which was comprised of further concern over alleyway changes… a comment to move forth and build a parking garage … a thumbs up from David Nixon saying we are 90% therea call for an animated computer presentation rather than a schematic and Paul Novak who stated we are heading toward being a restaurant downtown requiring the 20.5 ft sidewalks …(Yann  Brandt said that last year when calling for no parking requirements!) …With that they adjourned without voting which they were advised they could do in the backup from the TM due to calling a Special Meeting vs a workshop…Oops!…Looks like the Mayor dropped the ball on that one!……. Now it’s assured that this won’t come back until the newly elected Commissioner is sitting in seat 3 in Feb for a vote which gives any concerned taxapeyrs the time to voice any lack of contentment they see in the conceptual plans for the 3 downtown blocks they will end up paying for ….

more to come….

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