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Here’s The Scoop …. The Oct. 19, 2010 Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Master Plan Steering Committee Meeting … Meeting At A Higher Level … Well For Most Of The Meeting ….

STEERING THE MPSC AWAY FROM TRIPPING UP ON THE DETAILS …TO THE HIGHER LEVEL VISION … WILL BE A LONG -WINDED ROAD…

Dear Readers … the MPSC met last night in Jarvis Hall …All members were present with the exception of Marjorie Evans who was “excused” according to Chair Paul Novak… Also in attendance as we knew she would be from the agenda was Town Manager Connie Hoffmann… as well as other members of staff … Paul took care of the roll call and the past minute approval and decided to make a statement before he began this evenings agenda… In his opening remarks he said he had heard comments that as a group they had not accomplished much..He countered those comments by bringing up agendas which have been changed…lack of direction from the previous administration and a group that is not all that familiar with the past…He stated that while some of the committee is “green” he did not think it was fair what was being said and he wanted to “defend you guys”… He went on to change the agenda a bit by stating there would be public comment both before and after the Town Manager spoke and she would speak first under the discussion item rather than member John Panitsas…

The attorney for Aruba Beach Cafe came up to speak on behalf of Aruba, Peggy and Guy and spoke about the sketch that was included in the Master plan  (the map shown in prev. agenda post and backup online by member John Panitsas) and to address the use of that alley and their private parking lot as shown …She stated the alley had some major renovations done to enclose the dumpsters costing approximately $250,000 …The alley is used by the garbage trucks…She stated they have flooding problems there as well and they did not think it would appropriate to put in public restrooms there as Mr. Panitsas  included in his drawing…Thew Attorney also spoke of the parking lot being the primary lot owned and operated by Aruba and their valet service and his plan would eliminate their parking …She ended by stating they were aware this was part of the discussion of the MPSC…and “free flowing dialogue” but wanted to make the committee aware earlier rather than later where they stood on these plans …After that she spoke of looking at the Town code and reading it prohibits any construction in the Right of Ways and the alley is a ROW… She was the only speaker at this time…

Paul then turned the meeting over to Town Manager Connie Hoffmann …stating she “did a lot of work, hopefully it will give this committee  a lot of focus going down the road”….This writer had high hopes that he was on to something with the Town Manager’s participation and leadership being offered to  this floundering committee (I must respectfully disagree with Chair Novak on his opening remarks )..but in the end…I had the same feeling tonight as I did when I attended the meeting which interestingly enough was brought up tonight when then-Chair Sandra Booth brought Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk .. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Plater-Zyberk … to speak and she was met with deaf ears and no responsiveness to what she was offering and what she could bring to that committee and the future of the Town…  Those sentiments came flooding back throughout the exercise Ms. Hoffmann offered up to the committee in an effort try to kick-start the process of revising the Master Plan in concert with the community as a whole… I believe in hindsight Ms. Hoffmann probably did not think it would have been necessary to provide the group with a pre-meeting outline in order for them to fully participate …but it might have helped them get on board…

Town Manager Hoffmann came to the podium and had both a board and powerpoint ready to assist her in her presentation to the group… She introduced herself and asked them to “indulge her” as she first talked about “the whole issue of planning a town at a higher level.”… She spoke that “in her experience it’s the details that trip things up.”…She stated they needed to “concentrate on the larger components”…Ms. Hoffmann spoke about the “whole idea of what makes a town memorable”…She used examples such as New York “energizes us” and of other places that are peaceful..She asked each of them to think about their favorite places …asking them to “gather their thoughts…take a moment”… She then stated she would go around the table and received no response…Ken Kugler spoke up first and said the Smokey Mountains ..the Tennessee side …Gatlinburg …the North Carolina side….Ms. Hoffmann prodded for why and he responded he felt energized…relaxed and peaceful …As he spoke Ms. Hoffmann wrote down on the board the place and the feelings…She s had to push for participation and Helene Wetherington responded Paris…for good shopping and good food…TM Hoffmann stated she was looking for the feeling not what she was seeing…Helene responded she felt awe and appreciation…Ms. Hoffmann said it was a sensuous pleasure found in Paris…Another member chimed in that in Paris there was people watching and an appreciation of the lifestyle…I believe Bob Eckblad spoke next adding his favorite place was park City for skiing … due to it being different from the norm…As for the skiing as he was prompted to explain how he felt by Ms. Hoffmann he described he felt challenged and exhilaration …also of the social interaction…Ms Hoffmann went on to ask about landscapes and travel ..and Paul Novak spoke of his times in Key West and the comparisons he makes with LBTS …He finds Key West alive..He feels great there and when coming back wishes he could stay an extra day…He spoke of it being historic …Truman and Hemingway …TM Hoffmann said it was the architecture and the history…Paul responded he loves history and spoke of a recent trip and the learning process…Ms. Hoffmann said the enjoyment of growing and learning…Ken Kuglar added that what appeals architecturally…is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and mind…a form of art …Europe is pleasing to the senses…Ms. Hoffmann then changed gears and asked the committee to talk about places they did not like …while not naming the places to address how they felt when they were not enamored with a place…Edmund Malkoon stated he felt discomfort and Paul said overcrowded …Ken added claustrophobic and Jim Rogers added nervous about the unknowns…Ms. Hoffmann gently guided them and asked about those places that were “physically unattractive”…Ken responded that would a place “devoid of green space”…a place that “feels monotonous, unnatural, boring”…TM Hoffmann spoke of “identifying” with places that make you feel good…that “we know these things innately” …She spoke of traveling trough Pennsylvania and driving through farm land…She honed in on “connection” and “open land”… She spoke of “human memory”…and the common sights associated with her travel such as the barns, silos and the farm houses…She tied that in with the hiring of planners…adding that when farmers built their farm houses they were not designed by architects …She explained they were built by what the farmer knew from his surroundings…the other farm houses standing and built upon Paul’s input of the farmer building for the weather and functionality of where the farm was located…Ms. Hoffmann said it was as Frank Lloyd Wright said “form follows function”..She went on to say the farmer knew how to put together his house from life experience…She said it was “not rocket science”…we “intrinsically know”…and she tied it all together in a neat bow by stating we “need to get back to what we already know”… She said she was “hesitant to go through the Master Plan details”…and again stated they needed to “work at a higher level”…”patterns” ..”rules of thumb that has worked for millenniums”…in “Egypt, Greece, Paris, South Beach”…She said the challenge for them, residents, businesses and staff  to figure out and re-educate what we already know…”public squares ..town…neighborhood…elements” …(all common threads brought forward in the places we like exercise) … They need to be educated in the process of what has to happen to get there…She stated it we are not working off the same page…don’t know the big picture…the rules of thumb you cannot violate… how can you create a Key West…create a vision…for this group  and the Town…She went back to the exercise once more to emphasize those common threads ..using Venice and its distinguishing characteristics the waterways…canals… Paul added that in Venice it is falling apart with exposed wires that would never be allowed in our country… TM Hoffmann asked Paul if that detracted from his enjoyment and he responded he loved it there..More discussion on the attributes found in Venice…such as the public squares…marketplace…people…cafes and walking….Ms. Hoffmann was most likely thinking she had finally found that “aha” moment as she connected the Venice responses to what we have in LBTS the interaction…the design elements seen in Venice with 3-4-5 story buildings…the common areas of a public square…church…water and where each area has the public congregating…She gave a further example of “pattern” with New England …public squares…architecture …no more than two stories and homes being only brick or clapboard…”repetition” found…She went on to Amsterdam “patterns”…”roof lines” ..”timelessness”…”rules of thumb”…”repetition”…and “people doing it over and over again” …”repetition but nothing is ever exactly the same”… She spoke of orchards and vineyards and the rows and rows offering a pattern… stating we “need to figure out those patterns”…in LBTS …but not restrict what makes uniqueness…On what patterns there are in LBTS Edmund replied the ocean…breezes and waves…Ken added low rise structures…Ms. Hoffmann said “human scale”…Paul stated the building on the ocean were different…not cookie cutter…The TM spoke of pedestrian activity..not needing a car to live here…She spoke of neighbors …walking on Commercial and El Mar Drive…interacting…Paul responded tourists were on El Mar and did not think pedestrians on El Mar knew many of those walking ( the experience this writer has walking on El Mar …is seeing many owners…walkers…dog walkers…bike riders….and business owners from one end to the other to meet and greet)… Ms. Hoffmann ended this portion by saying she brought this because they have to think about the future of this town at this level….that it won’t make it a memorable town just by going through the list the planner (Walter Keller) gave them…She asked what the rules of thumb were that they had to be mindful of …She spoke of wanting to bring in speakers to discuss the patterns we can build on… She spoke of the 2004 Master Plan being expansive but not implemented which was surprising in what she stated was the biggest boom seen since the 20’s …She spoke of how they get it moving this time…having the community embrace it …especially after it was not embraced by the community after it was voted on in 2004…She asked what role this group plays…their input on the 2004 plan ..that it would be the topic for the next few months with possible additional meetings required…She said a plan like this could take 20 years to implement…and they would have to narrow down their priorities in a certain time frame …To move forwrd she again said she would like to bring in some people and this is where Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk came up…Paul stated she had been there and asked Sandra..Sandra Booth gave him the name and spoke of Ms. Plater-Zyberk’s vision when she came …Ms. Hoffmann added that Ms. Plater-Zyberk and her husband were behind Seaside Florida …Paul stated the TM would need to be the one to invite Ms. Plater-Zyberk…OOPS!…It was Ms. Booth who brought her here and would be the one to be successful in her return…although I do question whether it might be a repeat performance by a committee at this point in time she would be faced with….So maybe she could come on-board later after some other people to be safe… Paul asked about a 20 year plan and felt it was pie in the sky… Ms. Hoffmann again asked them to “indulge me” as she spoke of her experience in Fort Lauderdale with their vision which stemmed from a city that had declines…with people moving away…and not taking advantage of opportunities when they should have…She said they had a 10 year plan that  was embraced by the community and 9/10ths of it was completed in 15 years…:never underestimate what a good plan can accomplish”…Bob Eckblad asked how they could get people to be involved as he pointed out the hall this evening had a small attendance…he said there was indifference…Ms. Hoffmann said people needed to participate in the process …Jim Rogers countered by stating this committee would establish the basic guidelines and let the community comment….Ms. Hoffmann said that meant they wanted to control them … Edmund said they could go directly to the POA and stakeholders and invite them…Sandra Booth spoke of the last time the Master Plan was reviewed in 2004 and how the hall was packed and they needed extra chairs…they communicated through a myriad of ways…mail..tv…etc….Ms. Hoffmann again asked if the response was as described …people were fully engaged why did it flounder …John Panitsas stated he was in the hall in 2004 and that Peter J. Smith produced this document for around $100,000 …it was a very good plan and he went on to talk about this group and their role they are not reinventing the wheel that they need to discuss a few things and once they agree …they make a report …then there are comments…He said some of the members went through the 2004 Master Plan page by page and if they don’t discuss it they cannot get anything done…they cannot discuss it in 10 minutes…Ms. Hoffmann asked if anyone disagreed with him …She asked again why it was stopped dead in its tracks for being a great plan …and how do they avoid that happening again… Edmund stated the repeals of the overlays was due to lack of education..people misunderstood..there was an aversion to it…and it was not fully explained..lacking full communication…

BC- The real answer is that a small …loud group built a political opposition on fear-mongering what was in the plan and used some actions from bad elected officials and administrators to inflate and inflame voters which dug a wedge into the town and the plan…that lasted from the time that plan was finished until now…. Unfortunately what has happened over the last months with this committee including some of the comments made this evening could revive that faction big time…

Ms. Hoffmann stated Helene had been quiet and Helene responded she was not here when the 2004 plan was developed …and she stated she concurred with the TM… formulating the same questions and the need for adjustments on the higher level…She stated she was one of the “green” members …but added she felt they were walking in circles as a committee …She felt the 2004 plan had solid concepts…and due to its failure why do it again…She felt there should be public participation first and appreciated ms. Hoffmann’s framework… Ms Hoffmann responded she had some ideas on how to do both (public participation/MPSC) at the same time and would deal with that at the next meeting…With that she said they should go through some of the plan itself …the data…She said it was a real education …she met with some people and staff…She turned everyone’s attention to the screen and the powerpoint (the video is archived on Town website and MPSC backup-has copy of the summary as well…links below)….She started by saying there were colors for what had been implemented…strikeouts for what was not enacted or removed from voters, Comm. ot MPSC as well what was not adhered to but in the plan such as architectural style… She asked the committee to let her know if there were any corrections needed to the summary… Helene asked if an item was stricken was it still open for discussion …Ms. Hoffmann said that was up to the committee…She stated once more to stay on that higher level and to focus in on the three development nodes for this meeting…Those were the Downtown area …the Beach Center  (El Prado Park)and the Community Center (Town Hall and accessory buildings/municipal park)… She stated the Downtown node was Comm. and one street north/south..John Panitsas interjected that we only have three streets….Commercial/El Mar Drive and A1A the rest are residential…It was his opinion the three streets need to be coordinated and you cannot ignore A1A …He brought up Ft. Lauderdale improving A1A to Oakland park and the north end of LBTS A1A plan saying we need to address the south end in between …. Ms. Hoffmann asked if the consensus was El Mar-Commercial and then A1A or should A1A receive greater emphasis?…Ken replied they are the main thoroughfares but not to focus on A1A as a main priority…He felt the concentration should be from the bridge to the Pier… Edmund agreed …Helene stated she did not agree that A1A was the entry into the Town and it looked bad coming in from the south and would impact those coming to town…with the south not looking as inviting as the north…Edmund asked if she just meant entryways…Ms. Hoffmann said she heard it was more than just the entryway… Bob asked about the back-out parking and the limitations (which had been brought up at a prior meeting by Asst. TM Bentley of why it would be for naught)…Ms. Hoffmann responded not to be restrictive …to define what you want to accomplish and then decide how to do it…She addressed possibly buying properties in order to accomplish redevelopment…Ken then changed his stance on A1A citing his past recommendations of south A1A needing more attention then the north end …John added there are grants available for downtown redevelopment as well…He also added that A1A could have fixed landscaped medians (as he included in his map sketch)…TM Hoffmann once more implored the committee to keep the discussion at a higher level… Jim Rogers added that A1A is the first thing people see…Comm. not as bad and El Mar is ok as is…to reverse the priorities….Ms. Hoffmann stated she would add A1A as a 4th focus node… The TM went on to the 2nd node …the Community Center of Town…She spoke of destination…shop…dine…interact…and the main focus…”sort of a no-brainer”…She said it is the elements that are controversial…She spoke of L Mar not really being for cars…more for pedestrians …Incredulously John Panitsas stated the board had already voted and decided that El Mar would be two lanes with a multi- purpose lane …They decided a couple of meetings ago and it may not be publicized but he sounded like it was a done deal…

BC- this type of behavior will not go far in helping to get people engaged in a positive way…

Ms. Hoffmann said they dealt with the design of the street …then the buildings… Paul said El Mar is a hybrid of tourists and condos and how do you keep the tourists coming … TM Hoffmann said they would get to that when they discussed the economic development… She asked about improving the alleyways and spoke of the 2004 plan that called for bountiful alleyways…for pedestrian use…was this a priority?…

BC- The responses from the committee did not show they were fully aware of the extent of those alleyway improvements…with the exception of Helene… The alleyways were a big focus point of connecting the west to the east with walking…shopping carts for vendors and seating…

Edmund stated it was still desired to add to the environment…Ms. Hoffmann said that there were tow different things…neater alleyways & serving pedestrians..Ken stated the alleyway by Oriana was to be used for parking and exiting the pier…he wanted to see it more pleasing but not eliminated…Paul spoke of his alleyway (Aruba/High Noon which he owns)…the garbage trucks…and nothing could be done to improve it…adding they put a mural up on his building… Jim said alleyways should not invite pedestrian traffic…Ms. Hoffmann spoke of Commercial and improving the pedestrian experience…Paul then brought up his longtime desire for a pedestrian bridge or tunnel to go across something he says people avoid doing Ms. Hoffmann added to the summary the need for pedestrian crossing to be vastly improved… Helene then spoke of the alleyway from A1A (Bougainvilla) parking lot and using that alleyway by Ham N’Egg to get to Town Square and how it should be enhanced… Paul agreed with that…Bob was concerned about the crosswalk and John concurred with heavy traffic there …Edmund then went into timers for the sequencing the Comm/A1A lights as a immediate remedy…Ms. Hoffmann must have been biting her lip …trying not to say “higher level” once more…She went on to the El Prado park portion of the Master Plan from 2004 …She spoke of the park only…

BC-it changed due to exchange with Minto of land from the original vista of a green space from Town hall to the ocean… Mark Brown has spoken for some time privately that the Town should look into purchasing the adjoining oceanfront land Minto has not built on to expand the park and views to the water…

John Panitsas wants to build a parking garage in El Prado parking lot…and then spoke of the little park by the water …brushing it off…Ms Hoffmann asked them to remain n the major focus… John responded for the time let it go…and spoke of the public restrooms needed there and downtown as well as small concession stands and why were they ignoring that discussion this night…Ms. Hoffmann asked for other people’s input…Ken responded the El Prado Park was not a priority at this point…Sandra spoke of when Ms. Plater-Zyberk was there and that she felt the El Prado Center was the 2nd most beautiful area in town …She also said they needed to remember the Marina area (Basin Drive west of Comm.) …the best kept secret that needs to be emphasized…TM Hoffmann said that would be on another night…and stated as she added to the powerpoint that El Prado Park will be left on but is not a priority… The last area was node #3 the Community Center …aka Town Hall-Jarvis Hall-Municipal Park-Public Safety Building …redeveloping for a center that is all inclusive ….Ms. Hoffmann also asked about the possibility of the Town Hall being elsewhere if a developer offered to buy the land…and if they could see that happening…Edmund replied it would be controversial..citing costs and the need for functionality…He added he coul;d see a 2nd story overhanging to the green…the ocean with a park… Bob replied it was a 5-10 year plan due to the costs..not a priority… TM Hoffmann asked about any deed restrictions…no on responded …

BC- there could be …there is with other areas we are told left in place from some of the founding families…A few years ago before he was ousted VM Yanni spoke of the possibility of buying the SunTrust Bank he thought was for sale …and moving Town Hall there…it never went anywhere …

There was some more discussion on size…parking…with Ms. Hoffmann putting it as a 5-10 year item but not on the top three….Ken thought it was important and Ms. Hoffmann said it could always be moved up…She also thought this was a good stopping point…She stated the top 3 were the Downtown Center node…A1A…moved Beach Waterfront out of the top 3… but not off the list …Town Hall…. It is a discussion in progress…Helene said she thought they were visioning too small …the importance of El Mar…and bringing the nodes together…the underutilized park …connecting the downtown to Town Hall …that they needed to be more expansive…

BC- as previously posted years back the MPSC had the Arker plans for a Town Hall that connected up to the Town by way of Bougainvilla a shorter walkway…It was all encompassing for all agencies and the bus…parking ….Grants could be obtained and a rooftop area for vistas and gatherings… and as Readers will remember …this writer stood at the podium and posted many times before when the prev. TM bought the miserable..crappy 2 million dollar motel next door… we had the funds to build such a complex!…

Ms. Hoffmann responded to Helene to say they could combine El Prado and Town Hall as a new node… Bob again spoke of the costs…and it being unrealistic …Sandra replied they were the visionaries and did not need to address the money at this juncture …the committee laughed…

BC- Ms. Booth was correct and showed she was listening to TM Hoffmann…in thinking and working on a higher level …taking away the restrictive thinking…as she was asked to do….

Bob went on to add though this was the time to make acquisitions for the future in a soft market…. Ms. Hoffmann that’s why you need big scale visions..and said she would combine the two  (El Prado/Town Hall) …With that she said it had been fun for her…

BC- This writer cannot see how…and if so that “fun” had to fly out the door for the TM quickly as she sat down to watch the rest of the meeting…

Paul asked for any additional public comment…Guy Contrada from Aruba came up to address the alleyway use from the A1A (Bougainvilla) lot saying it was better for the businesses if pedestrians were walking across A1A in front of the businesses..

BC- This is where Chair Paul Novak should have made a leadership decision and stopped the meeting…He did not..He let John Panitsas go forward with his plan …which totally wiped away what the TM was there to stop…getting tripped up by the details!…UGH!…

Mr.Panitsas went over his diagrams…maps…backtracking a little by stating they were his ideas for the purpose of discussion…to talk about…He spoke of the prior Master Plan having a pedestrian only area downtown and how it would benefit restaurants…people could park at the municipal lot…Paul asked how cars would get to the pier and Me. Panitsas replied about his vision using the alleys …He showed he is not up on what has taken place with the Oriana Alley by stating it was 2 way traffic and not pedestrian …Paul asked how people were to get to the hotels if El Mar was not open from north to south…John backtracked for the moment saying it could be opened …it could be closed …and we cannot redesign the town around people driving!…Paul was clearly astounded by that response…Edmund Malkoon thanked John for doing all the hard work on this and stated it showed he was passionate…He stated he went around to businesses and asked about this …he stated he had heard at one time a building was to be bought to widen the alleyway …He said if this was not functional keep El Mar open and close it elsewhere …He talked about eliminating parking spaces …as well as the need for a diving center …

John said he would stop and continue on at the time the TM discussed other items at another meeting… Paul said the next meeting would be addressing the economics….John unfortunately did not stop and went on to talk of his plan further the 3 streets already discussed and parking garages at least 2…leaving Basin Drive and Town Hall for later… Paul said they would discuss that later as we go along…after the TM went over and appeared to inform Paul it was time to end the meeting…

Bob stated that he wanted to express  an idea he had brought forth in the past to purchase land near Datura/Bougainvilla/A1A and the Chamber of Commerce…for the Town to re-zone it to allow for shops, offices and parking….to redevelop that portion of A1A…Paul stated again that would fall under the economic revitalization discussion to come…

With no other business…they adjourned…

BC- What can the Town Administration and the Commission do with this committee moving forward?… Can the MPSC and the people of this town both deal with the vision of this town at the same time?….Should that be the way this proceeds?…While they serve at the pleasure of the Commission…to disband them or remove some members would probably not bode well for the Commission in the court of public opinion…or would it?…

Archived video … http://lbts.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2 / MPSC Backup …. http://www.lauderdalebythesea-fl.gov/town/backup2010MPSC.htm

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more to come…

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