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Here’s The Scoop … 10 Days Back In Lauderdale-By-The-Sea With Input From A Cross Section Of Constituents And Businesses As Well As The “Players” Leads To 3 Days To Fully Digest The Political Landscape And Climate One Year After The 2010 Election ….

NO PLOP PLOP …. NO FIZZ FIZZ …

JUST  APATHY … WITH A LITTLE BIT OF “BEEN THERE DONE THAT” AS WELL AS OVERALL SATISFACTION AND A LOT OF RELIEF …

Dear Readers … This is no April Fools joke… It was feet on the ground over a 10 day span that gave this writer the insight I was looking for when I posed the question on what is the current political climate in LBTS a few weeks back … What I found was a combination of what I asked about …I inquired in that post after 3 months away whether the voters were apathetic… disengaged or fully satisfied with the current commission/administration …All three are true depending on whom you ask… The first comment I received on the day of my return home coming from a business in town was the same response I received from a longtime full- time resident as I awaited my ride to the airport on Tuesday… The response was mostly relief that the “loudmouth” (McIntee) was gone…The contentiousness is MIA as well and things seem to be running smoothly… There was a universal response from longtime political “players” PAC members and non-PAC members from both sides of the Jarvis Hall aisle that they had done their part in the past and were happy to sit this one out seeing no reason to step up to the plate any time soon as they readily also admitted they only occasionally check in on the “nuts and bolts” of what the commission/administration is concentrating their efforts on … on their behalf …. Many are apathetic due to dealing with their own pressing problems of rising fees ..bills…and reeling from sticker shock at the grocery store and at the pump … Some of the lack of knowing what’s what I was told point blank is the lack of reading this writer’s site on a daily basis as well as the lack of weekly or bi-weekly newspapers in town ….They are dependent on By The Sea Future which now comes out once a month on the 3rd week of each month and Town Topics which comes out every three months… Out of sight …out of mind was a recurring theme as I continued my unofficial cross section research to see what was what…

I walked the whole town mostly in the south end and did indeed see a clean-up is definitely in the works … I was thrilled at seeing the big fish bike rack in El Prado Park as I repeatedly watched visitors taking photos by it and children playing around it…The use of the seashells attached to the entry to the beach in El Prado Park was another touch of whimsy that brought a smile to my face as well as many others catching sight of them… The first of three tile tables and benches in Washingtonia Park were an instant hit and fully occupied each time I passed by …The first table and benches were donated in honor of former longtime manager of the Windjammer Resort and active participant in town, Diane Boutin as the sign affixed the park attests…The plantings in the medians are neater and maintained better than I can remember…so much so that I can understand now the reason the administration wants the municipal works department to remain in-town rather than contracted out… although I would still want to see the numbers for certain services such as the street cleaning before purchasing any more equipment at budget time such as the addition of a larger street sweeper… We ate at Burger Fi and thoroughly enjoyed it …The cheeseburger was first- rate .. although a little small for the $ amount…fries were okay…onion rings were to die for …The place was packed …..All in all a welcome addition to town…and an additional go-to in- town spot after Aruba Beach Cafe’ …Village Grille …. 101 N. Ocean … Anglin’s Beach Cafe’ … and By The Sea Diner …. the spots this writer regularly makes a beeline to when back home… The downtown was hopping the first weekend both on Friday and Saturday night with the weekly outdoor music special events from Village Grille and Athena By The Sea… Comments we heard …”What other town offers so much!”… We agree… Parking looked not to be an issue the whole time we were back …as we already knew!…. I saw some noticeable and welcome changes in properties being spruced up by new owners whether it was the Dolphin Harbor Inn …the motel on the corner of Washingtonia Ave. and A1A …properties on El Mar Drive as well as the condo finally underway on the beach at Washingtonia and El Mar Drive seeing the new roof …Add to that the White Cap finished and occupied as well as the Coral Key sans the real estate signs and off the market … and the property on the west side of El Mar across from Oriana …The security “arms” have been removed from the entry to the beach on the north side of Oriana and access  from the pier parking lot looks to be finally in place…The new parking pay stations were installed a few days before I departed and I could see an instant change to the site lines from the removal of the parking meters … as well as ease of use from those using the pay stations from the get-go…

I attended the March 22nd commission meeting and felt sort of like CIC Chair Liliana Pomareda as a few former(?) “friends” signed up after I signed up for public comments …They were ready to “pounce” if I so much as dared to speak in opposition of those they supported and put on the dais…or so I was informed of by those who are supposed to know these things… Hmmm…quite interesting after the role I played in getting those very same people up there  the year prior…and in 2008 …After I spent my time speaking positively on a few topics there was a flurry of those who signed up stating they would “pass”…Ha!…Politics…it’s always about circling the wagons rather than dealing with the topic at hand…no matter what the year or who is on the dais!…

I still believe there should be two commission meetings and the roundtable experiment should be nixed… I still believe the meetings are way too long and convoluted …Too much tabling decisions…The commissioners should keep their comments on each item concise and written and under 3 minutes as they did in their first 4 months of office in 2010…After all it was a campaign promise… I still think old returning topics such as speed bumps should be either under a monthly report similar to BSO/VFD with a return of the monthly municipal/development reports on the agenda as well as having the commissioners address what they have been doing behind the scenes for constituents in their commissioner comments which will be twice a month if they return to  two commission meetings  … I was happy to see the Town Manager report and Town Attorney report are  being moved back up for fuller transparency at an earlier time in the evening… Consensus should rule and move on to a vote or take it off the table to review and come back at a time certain … or not…

Marketing is in need of a big overhaul in-town and out- of- town …to make up for the lack of the “news cycle” seen at the present time (see above) …I am hopeful an enclosed sign will go up asap in Pelican Square to post signs of upcoming events as well as meetings and important up to date changes … The commission/administration need to regularly go to the condos and the neighborhood associations on a regular basis to spread the word … and get feedback on concerns … It was another campaign promise…

I heard just yesterday that a team consisting of code enforcement and public safety closed down a large hotel much discussed at the Resident Input meetings after finding and recording multiple serious violations that are in need immediate attention and that they will be doing the same at other properties in order to maintain the standards required in our codes and for our hospitality district to survive…. Kudos!…

The next important meeting …. (sent via e-mail from the LBTS Chamber of Commerce e-blast and on Town website/channel 78)…

Note to Town: Please get rid of the Lamberti public service announcements on Ch. 78…this too was universally frowned upon in my travels…They like the music (this writer of course likes a little variety in that as well)….and the graphics with the important Town news …but not the new additional safety videos…

“LBTS COMMISSION WILL HOLD WORKSHOP
ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT REPORT

The Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Town Commission

will hold a workshop on Tuesday, April 5th at 7 PM in Jarvis Hall,

where Redevelopment Management Associates (RMA)

will present its economic development report on the Town’s Master Plan.

A Pompano Beach firm, RMA helped guide Delray Beach’s widely-heralded economic revival,

as well as economic redevelopment projects in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood,

West Palm Beach and other South Florida communities.

Jarvis Hall, 4501 Ocean Drive (adjacent to Town Hall), is located on the west side of State Road A1A about three blocks north of Commercial Boulevard.

The workshop meeting is open to the public and will be

televised on Channel 78, the Town’s government channel.

RMA’s presentation will address projects in the Town’s Master Plan,

a community blueprint for future Town redevelopment.

For more info, contact the Public Information Office at 954-776-3611.”

…………………

BC-Just remember …to keep in mind the short term and the long term future of LBTS… What do you …the voters want?… Should we have some questions on the ballot at the next election to see?… Maybe we should…it’s been 5 years …..after all the demographics have definitely changed… and our neighbors to the north and south …. Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale are getting their plans in place to become or remain upscale tourist destinations in this “lull” period we are told …. leaving us all the more in need of knowing what the town wants in order to compete…or not ….

Also keep in mind the reference above to RMA  … “RMA helped guide Delray Beach’s widely-heralded economic revival”…Delray  has a millage 7.19 plus debt service total of 7.79 …while it should be a given for LBTS  …..we can and we should retain 3.99 millage rate for yet another year in 2012 and still be able to pay off the Parking Fund debt as well as attend to some improvements in the business and residential areas along with retaining BSO well below the amount we thought we would be hit with from the scuttlebutt this writer heard while in town …These are gifts to the taxpayers in our village by the sea to say the least!….

It was the consensus at the two Resident Input meetings as well as from rounds around town for input from others that most stand strong on the matter of retaining hotels and motels and being a tourist destination going forth as they have after the changeover on El Mar Drive when Oriana and Minto were developed… Now on the table …and at the top of the “To- do” list is how to make that happen and what role .. if any…  the Town and the taxpayers play and to what end…

I will not be there in person…but I will like so many in- town and out- of- town be watching to see what RMA ultimately presents us with as well as what this commission/administration adds to this most important workshop discussion… After that is the final consultant presentation from Consultant Cecelia Ward followed by some hard decision making votes coming from the commission at a meeting to follow the following week I believe…

In conclusion… just a few kinks need to be addressed in order to tighten up the process and the progress … A wider “net” needs to be enacted to receive more active participation and the need to get the word out through better marketing and going outside the confines of Town/Jarvis Hall  ….The very real possibility of setting up for several important referendum questions being posed to the voters at the next election …Continuity of ensuring transparency front and center in the backup (fully archived for all meetings online from Oct.2009 … coming in the next weeks I was assured ) …Town meetings that are consistent, concise and conclusive … easy to understand in the summation of each item on the agenda…. making them easy to recall and respond to…

All in all…year one in LBTS …turns out to be…not bad…not bad at all!….

Again … this is no April Fools joke…I am happy to report!…

More to come…

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