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Here’s The Scoop .. The April 25, 2011 Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Roundtable Public Input Meeting Results …

WHEN AN ELEPHANT COMES IN THE ROOM INTRODUCE HIM! …

Dear Readers … as expected by this writer the one hour and fifteen minute Commission Roundtable was a totally unnecessary meeting and watching it was like watching the insufferable Master Plan Steering Committee meetings which more often than not provided nothing but the same regurgitated discussion from most sitting at the table!… Where is the organization in this town from the top down?… Why is no one standing up and reminding all that promises were made for less meetings not more…especially a meeting like this that surely have had the same results with an item added onto the Wednesday April 27th Reg. Commission meeting including the backup of the public input results with the Town Manager’s list of items she felt could easily be removed from the Master Plan …Those items removed barrier island interpretive center/public access to the Intracoastal/Town of LBTS included on neighborhood entry signs and finally parking garages which were deemed a low priority that big ticket item but rose up again in some additional El Mar Drive discussion and reversal decision….. to quash the multi-purpose lane …That was a due to a deja vu El Mar Drive “McIntee  Median Walkways” public comment made by El Mar resident David Nixon quashing the ridiculous Panitsas idea that was MPSC backed  …(see below) …

At least three of the participants … Vice Mayor Dodd/Comm. Sasser and Comm. Clottey stated in the first go-round they needed the actual costs before making any decisions … Mayor Minnet and Comm. Vincent seemed to be putting their fingers up in the air to teeter back and forth on any given item throughout….

I will tell you all right now at this juncture this is shaping up to be those who do not want any referendums on the March ballot due to the past history of March elections and their certainty that the voters will vote no…They want the Commission to make the decision …I am even told by a few that the big ticket items are now off the table so why include them in March …Come on! …That’s until after the election no doubt!… The TM definitely balked last night when the same three Dodd/Sasser/Clottey said a new Town Hall was not a high priority …(17-0 public input results) …She went on to talk about RMA’s Town Square development where the El Prado parking lot is … I have said when asked ….I don’t think anyone in the south end of town gives a hoot about changing the El Prado parking lot into a Town Square anytime soon …It just seems it’s RMA and the Town Manager are enamored with this concept …(as well as 16-1 PI result voters) …The TM did say it cannot be done without parking being at a new Town Hall …She even went on to talk about having UM do renderings when Comm. Vincent asked if we have any.. Michael Arker introduced them in 2005 as previously posted and as all those at the table are well aware of…The TM also spoke of other land that could be back on the tax roll if we build a new Town Hall ..Comm. Vincent fell for that one saying “if we could recoup money”..and then paraphrasing what the TM said…The Mayor waffling said “will be a priority? …Not until we have costs.”… … So it is definitely not off the table!

I still believe that after we get the RMA and UM reports which will include such major redevelopment and more it should be the voters who decide how and if we fund them … No doubt it will also be the north vs the south once again with what I’m hearing…Candidates who do not support the voters deciding will most likely be the losers at the polls…Remember the last elections …with those who were friendly with opponents and even had their signs in their yards…only to vote the opposite way … It will be the same this time around…

What needs to happen asap is for the Town Manager to direct the Town Clerk and the Town Atty. to contact the Broward Supervisor of Elections and bring to the Commission the timeline and steps necessary to be ready to put those items on the ballot in March … Any delay in doing this will speak volumes and dredge up past such actions we witnessed from previous administrations…

At the meeting public comments were made by three residents out of a room of approximately a dozen attending I am told… First up was David Nixon who spoke positively about the planning meetings but took issue with the multi-purpose lane as stated above… He said he called FDOT to get their professional opinion about such a lane and found they had a division for pedestrian and bicycle safety…He told them of the Commission’s decision for a multi-purpose lane on El Mar Drive and they pulled up Google Map as they responded after a long pause …He said they felt it was not only dangerous but a “disaster waiting to happen”..He said they had a saying “don’t mix heels with wheels”…They went on to reiterate what has been brought up before when the “McIntee Median Walkways” were in play…the puzzle pieces of crossing traffic to abide by the multi-purpose lane just would have been the case for the walkways in the medians…(sound familiar?) … He asked them for ideas and they said widen the sidewalks …make that change and go from there…He ended by talking of it being very expensive for the town when a personal injury attorney makes the same inquiry he did on behalf of his client… Nance Nixon also spoke about attending all the meetings and the multi-purpose lane she does not want …She held up sheets of comments and input she took to all the residents and hoteliers …She had most of them to turn over and would provide the rest of what the stakeholders want El Mar Drive to look like … Arthur Franczak a resident of Terra Mar and Manager for the Shore Haven Resort Inn spoke about lowering taxes the impact the Master Plan redevelopment decisions will have on the taxpayers…He asked about revenues vs. the impact ..He used the Bougainvilla Parking Lot and the Comm. Blvd. Pavilion as examples and also spoke of the maintenance costs involved in projects but never costed out in the decision making process …(The TM said they will look into that later in the meeting) … He spoke of wanting a lean government not a bloated one and letting him keep his money for he will spend it better… The Manager of the Driftwood came forward once again to complain about parking on El Mar Drive and delivery trucks.. (This was addressed at length later in the meeting…but how long has she been Manager there…it’s a commercial area after all…) …

I knew we were headed down that old familiar path when Mayor Minnet spoke of why this meeting was called …She actually stated what I did on this site when I came back to write in December almost verbatim!… She said low attendance to all these meetings could be people are happy, apathetic or against it… She spoke of the charette on May 21st with UM and how that one is most important to attend …She then went into election- mode picking up pieces of what was said here and there …stating it “is important we move forward with a plan that is consistent”…then adding “not spending the taxpayers money” onto the tail end of her reasons for doing all this… She asked for recommendations to be sent to all Commissioners and the Town …She went on to thank all those that attended and said there was “great energy”..

Commissioner Sasser tried but failed to nip this meeting in the bud by asking if there was “any structure” or was this going to be open discussion …He said “what are we trying to do?”… The Mayor responded “What is the Master Plan?”..She said are we “taking it as a whole?”..”I don’t think so.”…She said this was the time to decide what items they wanted to move forward on and those they did not…

Comm. Sasser stated he agreed with Arthur (Franczak) that they can’t make decisions without the financial component …and that there was not alot of difference between the Master Plan from 2005 and the one they have today…

The TM added she thought the maintenance costs were a “good point”…She said “My mantra is focus”..She said they had so many projects and some have no support and they should be dropped…

The Mayor chimed in about the Interpretive Center and said just drop it..the priority is drainage (residential storm drainage  21-0)and signage  (actually results were for El Prado Park signage 22-1/residential signage 12-11 w/ 1 “don’t care” )..

Comm. Sasser continued on to say what we are really discussing is alot more conceptual…the hotels and structures…

The Mayor spoke of items that could be addressed by ordinances and P & Z process and that won’t cost us money…(really?) …

Comm. Vincent said “the meetings were phenomenal” and went on to talk about the reason they were there was to resolve the issues for Driftwood ..(Huh?) … He spoke of the multi-purpose lane and said he too heard about the legality of that (David Nixon later brought back up to the podium by Comm. Vincent said there was no illegality) …He too followed the Mayor by going all over the place acknowledging Arthur (Franczak) and how much this is gonna cost as well stating there was alot of things they needed to do as a commission …

Comm. Clottey also said the multi-purpose lane was dangerous (she needs to speak into the mike) …and any El Mar Drive improvements need to include the people who live on El Mar Drive to have a say..She said she can’t make any decisions on anything without a cost and people don’t want an increase in taxes…

Vice Mayor Dodd thanked the participants and said this was a wonderful report …absolutely terrific …(wouldn’t have gone that far with results from only 35 participants) … He too stated as he has from the start on the undergrounding project that the real costs need to be shown before any decisions to see what burden will come to those who will be required to fund it and hook up to it…He said he didn’t want to redesign it and then dig it up again… He again stated let the people decide if they want it and how to fund it …He didn’t want to get into the “nitty gritty” of what they discard until after they got the reports back..then prioritize…

Comm. Sasser said “El Mar’s not even on here and we’re talking El Mar!”…

The TM said she had no disagreement on anything she was hearing and asked if there was anything else they could drop…

The Mayor stated they were all agreeing and expounded “This event was to drop items off the list”…”on or off”…”focus in and identify.”…

The TM said “At least the Barrier Island Interpretive Center (16-5 public input results) and public access into the Intracoastal”.. (8-6 PI results)

Comm. Sasser began by emphatically stating “No, not at this time”…VM Dodd said “No” as well and spoke that public money should not be used for the access…

The TM went on to add to the drop list painting the bike lane on A1A…Comm. Sasser was opposed at this time …VM Dodd opposed …but Mayor Minnet said it should stay on for the UM study of A1A (the item had 8-6 in favor as result of PI mtgs) …Comm. Vincent felt it could be “wonderful”… Comm. Sasser trying hard informed his fellow commissioners that investigating will cost money …and again said it was a no from him…Comm. Vincent countered saying they can wait until after the UM report…

Town Manager Hoffmann went ahead and brought forth the designation of a Marine Park (5-4 PI results) …Comm. Sasser immediately continued on with his mantra of the evening “No at this time.”… Comm. Clottey asked about how this fir in with the reef project and was told they were separate issues …The TM said the underwater marine park designation required “going to the Feds”…and it was a long process…Comm. Clottey asked if people from the community could do it and TM Hoffmann told her the Town would need to be involved with the it as well as state and federal levels of government…VM Dodd said he did not want to lose the “vision” and spoke of his long term desire to have other coral reef projects as well as the one under contract to promote tourism …as far as the designation hassle let it come down the line … The Mayor and Comm. Vincent agreed ..

The Town Manager said that was her list of items …

Vice Mayor Dodd said “parking garages” …(13-1 PI results) ..

The Mayor asked “high,medium,low” for priority …

Comm. Sasser replied “low”…The Mayor said “we’re in consensus”…saying it’s not necessary at this time as she went on to talk about the new parking ordinance and utilizing our current surface parking areas better…She asked for any other ideas…

Comm. Vincent asked about aesthetic alleyways…(13-0 PI results) … The Mayor responded the alleyways and portals are important vistas…(maintaining vistas 16-0 PI results) ….She asked about highlighting historical buildings and structure asking if we have any…( actual wording in results question Identify, preserve, protect and highlight historic buildings/structures…12-1 w/3 “don’t care” votes PI results) .. Comm. Sasser  responded it was an “integral part” of the design process…

VM Dodd asked about a 3-story Town Hall Complex being a high priority (17-0 PI results) …Comm. Clottey responded “not at this time” …VM Dodd said he seconded that …This is when the TM went on to talk of other land that could then be put on the tax rolls… Mayor Minnet responded we need to get the costs…Comm. Clottey agreed ….Comm. Vincent chimed in about the possibility to “recoup money”…TM Hoffmann said it would need to done “if we ever want to develop El Prado as a public square”…We would “need to develop Town Hall” …The Mayor said “It’s an important part of the plan, in the future”…Comm. Sasser agreed and said once more put it on referendum …He said let the citizens decide… The Mayor said it it will be a priority but not until we have the costs …This is when Comm. Vincent asked about renderings …and Comm. Clottey said that would cost more …Comm. Sasser said this is part of the high level costs we should get from RMA…not plans …TM Hoffmann sais she would talk to UMiami for renderings…and went on again to speak of RMA’s “strong suggestion” of turning El Prado Parkinginto a square…It should be a part of the UM charette…design cost and the 5 year plan …. The Mayor said that lot is on A1A so UM should include it ….(So don’t fall for Town Hall being off the table  and no need for a referendum on it) …

The Mayor was about to end this portion of the meeting and the TM asked about the residential sheet and the Town being mentioned on neighborhood signage (12-11 w/1 “don’t care”)…The Mayorsaid she didn’t see it as a priority and Com. Sasser agreed…

BC- of note thus far…if you look at the decisions and designations made last night and prior to last night by this commission and the public input results based on 35 people (although most votes don’t add up to 35) …There is no rhyme or reason to most of their decisions…if truly based on this process thus far ….Some low priority designations are on some items with most of the favorable votes …and high priority or pre-emptive decisions such as $30,000 for neighborhood entryway signs were made when the vote was evenly split for and opposed… Hmmmm….

Com. Sasser wanted to address what the Commission heard from the people who spoke at public comments and get the thoughts of his fellow Commissioners referring to 1 lane/ 2 lane El Mar Drive happening after the 2005 Master Plan and the changes made ..He asked if they were willing to answer the question of 2 lanes or 1&1/2 …and then the multi-purpose lane as well..He added “people walk all over anyway”… He said “this core issue needs to be addressed”… The Mayor wanted it clarified what 4 lanes and 2 lanes meant (2 lanes on each side is 4 lanes/ 1 lane on each side is 2 lanes) …  She also spoke of already having both in the south end and north end of El Mar…Comm. Vincent said it’s a must to address it and spoke of taking out a portion of the median by Ham N’Eggs to accommodate the delivery trucks ..”we need to do it”… The Mayor countered him about ordinances that were in place and being updated and Driftwood calling in code… VM Dodd agreed with the Mayor and informed Comm. Vincent that they were really only talking about 3 days a week for deliveries and certain morning hours…so why give up the medians ..He added that Planner Ward said trucks were traffic calming … VM Dodd briefly reminded all the background of the change back to 2 lanes each side and how going to 1 &1/2 lanes or 16 feet would take away special event parking in town… From the looks of it someone in the audience disagreed with the Vice Mayor and he wasn’t backing down on this point…The Mayor chimed in to say if you eliminate El Mar parking for events we would need a parking garage (not off the table) … Comm. Clottey went back to the bike lane being on the right side of the road (David Nixon stated in his comments that FDOT said drivers look to the right for bikers) …she stated it was dangerous with backout parking and perhaps they should ride in the middle of the road…(yikes!) … Comm. Sasser responded to Clottey “where do bikers go today?”…

The Mayor spoke of  “Focus”… “key decisions” …and the Commission was “elected to make these decisions”…She asked if they were going to stay with the decisions they make or go back and forth?…She asked if it was 2 lanes on each side or change it?.. Comm. Vincent said “it’s  been drafted up Here”…He said it was a single lane by High Noon and both the Mayor and VM countered him that he was incorrect….and you can go around the trucks there…Comm.Vincent still wanted to take out the median saying it was not a “big issue”… The Mayor asked about designating areas for loading and unloading for deliveries only…The Vice Mayor said we would lose parking revenue as Comm. Vincent balked…The VM informed him deliveries are made on Tues./Thur. & Sat. morning when breakfast crowd comes…

The TM said “The elephant in the room is delivery trucks”… Comm. Sasser chuckled and said “There’s two elephants in the room…go from 2 lanes either side and lose parking”… Comm. Vincent said “Mr. Nixon disagreed”..(That must have been who commented while the VM was speaking).. Comm. Vincent asked for Mr. Nixon to be allowed to speak again and the Mayor grudgingly allowed it … David Nixon said he didn’t want to confuse multi-lane with 2 lanes ..He wants the sidewalks widened to 8-10 ft…and as far as 2 lanes-1 lane he’s “agnostic” on it …just no multipurpose lane..The Mayor did not think the Commission made a decision on the multi-purpose lane and was quickly advised they had..Mr Nixon continued to join in the discussion from the podium and the Mayor clearly unhappy stopped him and said this is exactly what she did not want to happen (by allowing him back up) … VM Dodd responded once again it was a safety issue of the width…The Mayor still tried to stick to her interpretation of the prior vote on the multi-purpose lane …Comm. Vincent joined her in not correctly recalling their vote by stating it would be multi-purpose as needed …(still it would be marked and a multi-purpose lane) …The TM stated it will be 2 travel lanes and 1 will be used for parking…The Mayor added “no multi-purpose”… The TM said “Here’s where we’re at now 2 lanes, no multi-purpose lane, special event parking, 8 foot sidewalks”.. VM Dodd said not if it curt into the medians to allow for 8 foot sidewalks …Comm. Vincent went gunning for the VM not understanding which medians the VM was talking about… The TM said there would not be room for a bike lane …and they would widen the sidewalks using some of the swale area available and deal with delivery issues…

BC- after all of the MPSC meetings and all of the Commission discussions and votes …it was decided as all at the table agreed El Mar Drive would remain 2 lanes! … Government at it’s finest!… All those hours of staff time…boards/committees …attorneys …consultant$…to come full circle to what we have now…….pricele$$! …

VM Dodd added on wine bars to the agenda which he previously proposed as an allowed business and is to addressed in a 2nd reading ordinance tomorrow night…The TAtty. found that beer must also be allowed at wine bars..The TAtty. said if the category was extended it could be readdressed …After some discussion with Comm. Sasser opposed to spending time on it ..it was agreed to bring it back as a separate ordinance discussion at a future roundtable meeting…

With that they adjourned…

More to come…

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