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Here’s The Scoop … Lauderdale-By-The-Sea April 12, 2011 Special Meeting/Roundtable … #1 …. Roping In The $teer And The “Contenders” …

ROPING THEM IN ONE BY ONE …

(found on http://www.kimwilliamson.net/)

Dear Readers …it was a late one last night with the combination Special Meeting /Roundtable…It began at 7 pm and ended approximately fifteen minutes short of April 13th! … That being said this writer turned in shortly thereafter and will need time to go through the voluminous content covered …

What I saw was a Town Administrator and Commission who finally seemed to be trying to “rope in the $teer” of priorities as well as which “contenders” and “handlers” would be headed to the championship ring …..  By that I mean of course which consultants would continue on in the implementation of the Master Plan .. what that implementation really means (at least at this juncture) and putting the onus of how much money will be spent and when (year 1-year 5) and the prospect of putting it to the voters in March 2012 for those $teer that are out of reach without enough “backers” to buy the amount of rope it would take to lasso parking garages/Town Hall Complex/underground utilities and ? …

Again I have to go back to a previous post of Monday morning quarterbacking and the belief that much of the last months of time and money spent on meetings whether it be committees/boards…Commission…series presentations and citizen input could have been better served with a moratorium set and a full table presentation from all the consultants hired by Town Manager Hoffmann …especially after hearing her last consultant Planner Cecelia Ward speak last night …(originally scheduled long before tonight in Feb. and unfortunately displaced for the parking workshop) …in a manner that was easy to follow and understand…So much so that longtime Town Planner (contracted out ) will get now the boot from the Town as well as Keith & Schnars who was hired by the previous commission to replace Keller and then never used it said due to a large bill that came due at the start of their association with the Town that made that association essentially null and void …with the former TM using Keller in their place while once again keeping her decision from the full commission that wanted Keller replaced!… Ms. Ward found much of our comprehensive plan was never updated and  only a few changes were made to land development regulations after the 2004 Master Plan was adopted… Some conflict was also found in our codes and the current Town Charter …(The Charter due to be reviewed in 2012 will now be on the next commission’s “plate” after March 2012 with full consensus from the Commission last night )…  as well as Broward County Flexibility Rules we must be following concerning mixed use in place (perhaps grandfathered) but not in-line with Broward as required…… This writer called Mr Keller for his input and to see if he saw this report…He took my call and replied he had not seen the report…I told him where he could locate it on the Town’s website …He responded the previous administration was aware of these inconsistencies and the need to address them but did not follow through for whatever reasons.. He stated possibly budgetary… I stated that I surmised he would likely be “bashed” for this coming to light in the Ward report and perhaps he would want to state what he told me…He responded he is a consultant to the Town and usually doesn’t do anything unless asked… I stated perhaps he might want to e-mail his side…He thanked me and I thanked him for his time  … Mr Keller was not at the meeting last night…I don’t know if he e-mailed beforehand or even read the report…but as I surmised above above he was indeed definitely “bashed” by Commissioners after the report and he will now be a former consultant for the Town from the consensus and direction given to the TM!… Ms. Ward certainly must be at the top of the list going forth and rightly so… (if her rate is acceptable) …One eye-opener ….it appears from Ms. Ward’s report taller buildings can be built according to the Charter not being changed after the 2006 height referendum in the downtown area! …

The Town Manager started the Special Meeting portion dealing with the implementation of the Master Plan (under Old Business) and the Community Design Workshop with UM and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk (see previous posts) … TM Hoffmann was clearly ready to set the tone of better explaining the process of each component going forward with the implementation of the future design of LBTS … She spoke of the participants UM already pulled together as well as the date May 21-26th with full citizen input inclusion as well as the cost and time difference if this was done in-house after being asked by Comm. Sasser … 5 days with over 30 professional participants for $16,500 plus the Town’s consultant Traffic Engineer for $1,500 vs. individual consultants hired to assist staff at a cost she estimated to be $100,000+ …(based on $75 an hour) This writer just hope a well coordinated full-out effort is made to get the P.R. on track prior to the set May 21st starting date as well as coverage of the event itself … Comm. Vincent continues to drive me to distraction with his endless stream of unconsciousness ..He wrongly made statements about using the Art Institute students vs. the UM students calling the AI experience an embarrassment… The TM tried to rein him in by including in her answer the AI is always welcome as she described the difference…She added the professionals would include Real Estate people who were involved in South Beach redevelopment of boutique hotels …. VM Dodd followed up Comm. Vincent to speak of the difference and to state the importance of specifying the parameters  from the start….Comm. Clottey further sullied the AI students by stating UM participants “were not just students from the Art Institute”…UM were a “higher level” …Ugh!… The only embarrassment that came out of either experience with AI pavilion or the El Mar Drive medians came from the former Town Administration and some on the former Commission including Comm. Clottey!… (Clottey also wanted to add Bougainvilla into the study but the TM stated UM was “already stretched “.. (the A1A study now not only includes Comm. Blvd by the beach but the whole blvd from the Intracoastal to the beach) …The Town Manager described the design work which ranged from conceptual street drawings to new facades for 2 hotels on A1A between Pine and Palm as well as architectural drawings of what the two El Mar Drive anchor hotels could be within our code along with economic performas … Comm. Sasser asked about what we have when we are done and will that information allow us to go directly to RFP …The TM said no “but it will advance us significantly”… It is more than we have now from the previous Master Plan which was “just a statement”… (Not sure I agree with that one..after seeing previous renderings etc… ) … She stated we will still need engineers and spoke of what happened with Ocampo when they designed around the AI winning medians …and how it was not approved in the end and shelved… TM Hoffmann stated “What can I say it’s Lauderdale By The Sea”…going on to say everyone is invited to this one for input throughout… With the drawings and commission priorities then we go out for detailed designs with an RFP …This is when Comm. Sasser asked about the cost differential (see above) … Comm. Sasser also asked about what becomes of the anchor portion submitted by UM since the these properties are privately owned..The Town Manager responded by walking us through what has taken place before and what is usually the case when new business ventures come to town. They come to the development office and inquire about a certain property …The development office and the Town would also take the UM plans and show them to the owners of the properties to show them what is possible and see if they bite …The Town could go further by seeing if those owners would be interested in someone who would be willing to go to the next level of redevelopment…Comm. Sasser stated that seemed to tie into the branding and marketing they spoke about at the last meeting and was the Mayor’s #1 item …Comm. Vincent speaking it seems just to speak  … made a Freudian slip and said he “concluded” with Comm. Sasser’s questions about the “huge savings” with RMA  yada yada yada … The Mayor stated she was in favor of the participation and repeated much of what the Town Manager said stating this was to generate plans and allow the Town to cost out projects … She ended on the same not the Town Manager started on…trying to further define what the purpose this served  and how it would fit in going forth in the big picture …VM Dodd made the motion Comm. Vincent made the second and it passed 5-0 …Set for Jarvis Hall May 21-26th…

Next item on the Special Meeting (under New Business) was for RMA’s 2nd contract which would also be approved 5-0 after they too were not only “corralled” but RMA principal Chris Brown seemed to be “bowing”  to the reality of any parking garages and the “whole enchilada” of redevelopment being way down the line in the 5- year plan with the “what we can afford to do” being the “grand prize” for this and next year’s “main event” … The Town Manager commented first “This is the fastest contract ever put together in recent town history”…It was asked for the previous Tues. evening… She stated the cost of the proposal ($19,900 plus reimbursements expenses)… She further said they would offer a “dose of reality to UM”…(Hopefully a dose of reality to RMA is not to spend all we have in our coffers asap)… Town Manager Hoffmann spoke of the 5 year plan and where the funding would come from as well as rough costs …staffing and tying it all up…The VM spoke as well on how RMA tied it together..Comm. Clottey spoke of costs and her concern of a parking garage that could cost $6 million …The TM stepped in to “corral” Clottey and  the dollar amount thrown out with itemization and priorities done in steps ..RMA’s Chris Brown added it would be a 1st draft of all items in the implementation plan and the garage will be in there with “fairly accurate numbers”…adding “if you can afford it is another matter”… further still adding “probably in your 4th or 5th year or beyond”.. (BINGO!) .. He stated the plan for A1A will be as accurate as they can be using contracts RMA have down to perhaps details such as costs of a Royal Palm vs another tree (shades of Happy Vasil who lost her palm tree in the north Seagrape Dr. development and her desire for Royal Palms to replace them which were to cost thousands …and were quickly taken out of the equation!) …Comm. Clottey stated she thought Bougainvilla and Poinciana needed attention ahead of branding saying “we can’t put our heads in the sand”…(These streets do need attention…drainage/swales/parking beautification) …Comm. Sasser asked when it would be ready …”end of June?”…The TM said it would be the first 2 weeks of June …(Contract says June 1st)… Comm. Sasser went on to asked about the branding and marketing and stating he did not see it in the scope of work …The Town Manager said it was not included in this project and that they had their hands full with this…She spoke of the “marketing arm..the hotels and businesses …Comm. Sasser wanted to know costs and the TM said they needed to come back with those but she needed direction to do so… Comm. Sasser stated it was clear and concise and what he expected and now we will see what we can afford with the money we have and as for the rest needing bonds that could be put on the ballot… Chris Brown said it would be presented that way exactly and stated their would be no bond in the 1st year …basically this is “a five-year decision tree”…( Remember-money don’t grow on trees!) …The TM said all this info will be in place to make decisions pre-budget time … The Vice Mayor was taken aback by Comm. Clottey’s comment about the parking garage reiterating his stance on the need being even further out than 5 years and alternative parking needing to be factored in to the current numbers provided (shared parking program numbers as well as street parking ) … “Cart before the horse… Chris Brown showed he was not a pro-parking garages as he was at the previous meeting (see prev. RMA presentation meeting post) …He spoke about the studies that needed to be done ahead of the $6 million dollar parking garage (s) … A “demand study”…A parking study” ..He said it was not all “supply and demand” again stating what we started out at long,long ago with destination and how far people are willing to walk… He covered the current “demand” as he had prior of East of A1A restaurants vs west of A1A…He talked once again about signage problems and their impact …and the need for getting people to cross El Mar Drive..He cautioned once more as well of how better restaurants west and redevelopment “could make things change overnight”… The Town Manager rope in hand…knot pulled tight…jumped in to talk of “other options”…”A garage is expensive proposition”… the need to “exhaust other options before going that route.”…BINGO!… Later on at the Roundtable the item to expand the “White Elephant” A1A (Bougainvilla) lot by purchasing an apartment building  was met with no support from the commission and quashed (after we paid for 2 appraisals and drawings ..cost?)…Comm. Vincent wanted to know the Chamber’s inclusion and once again “gunning” for VM Dodd (who’s advising this guy these days?) …nastily stated they were “spinning our wheels” talking of the garage inclusion ..He said Clottey’s question was a good one (it was) and then he did his now usual disconnected barrage of commentary that leaves many shaking their heads … Chris Brown stated he would work with staff and told them they had a limited amount of money and they “will need to decide on suggestions that come from the point of view of what’s best for redevelopment” which is what will come from RMA as well as “strengthening your tax base.”… Comm. Clottey asked about infrastructure repairs not included in the report and spoke of nice things to do for tourists vs standing water problems residents are dealing with… The Town Manager reminded her we have the drainage numbers and some of those previously time lined approved projects will overlap with the Master Plan and economic plan ..(In the TM backup was the inclusion that we may face cost overruns for drainage in the south end (Flamingo ) due to problems in another nearby Ft. Laud drainage project not producing the desired result.. Not known yet is if planned installation of drainage wells within Flamingo Ave.is viable option to resolve completely flooding issues..The Tradewinds Dr. project is complete and Chen has applied for permit to construct…Comm & El Mar survey is completed…RFP is being prepared for downtown core project (This writer believes Comm. dropped ball on this one- should have gone with Chen and new tightened up contract ala Choice contract rework to get moving asap) …Comm. Clottey perhaps in election mode (is she going for a 2nd term?… She was seen on the break in quite a long back & forth whispering session with former UOT Pres. Bob Fleishman last night)… stated she “wants them put together” going on to say “We’re not going to borrow $50 million “…”Not gonna happen”… The Mayor asked what Comm. Sasser had earlier when addressing the UM item to the Town Manager concerning staff available vs RMA …The TM responded as she had at the RMA presentation the week before we have an Interim Finance Director about to leave and when the new one comes in mid-may (not yet named) ..He or she will need to “jump into the budget”… This is when she spoke of Aug-Sept for results vs. a June 1st deadline with RMA doing the job… adding RMA can provide not only quicker costs but better cost estimates and using them will not draw staff away from other priorities ..The Mayor asked about branding as well reiterating her stance… Chris Brown said that would have a cost and they could start it earlier “shepherd it” assist in the marketing and “select from 3-4 of the best in the business”…He said “I don’t want to oversell my services.”..The Mayor explained even more of what “RMA would supply us with” …how the “Commission would pick and choose what to allocate”..”with the budget”…She spoke of “past loss of opportunities by not being ready”…and it is “important to move forward (Some of her constituents will not be so quick to sign on with any of those statements)… The Town Manager asked the Commission if they wanted to move forward with the marketing plan… She advised to go forward with this project and then do that one (New RMA contract..New cost$)… Chris Brown joked(?) that contract would be ready next Tues…The motion was made by Comm. Vincent and seconded by Comm. Clottey…passing 5-0…

The last item of business was an item put on by the TAtty.concerning the Buena Vista Hotel on El Mar Drive and a declaratory judgment received for commercial garbage charges vs residential and the inequity under Fl. law… It is I believe on behalf of all such properties in town (this one has been on the dais before) …Choice is named as well…It will most likely include not only the monthly cost discrepancy but recycling inequities as well as franchise fees to the Town…A shade session is set for April 27, 2011 with TAttys. Trevarthen and Dan Abbott at 6 pm…That will preclude the Comm. from discussing the matter …

The meeting was adjourned and a break was taken for moving to and setting up the Roundtable … where the rope’s “knot” was indeed slipping here and there throughout the long session …

More to come…

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