Reference: Letter from Steve Martino to City Council on conditions in Plat 1

(Editor:  This is the text of the letter that resident Steve Martino sent to the Council on 7/11/14.  He also spoke to the issues at the July 10th City Council meeting.)

Mayor and City Council,

The City of Palm Beach Gardens was chartered in 1959. The original 6 plats and plats PGA 1 and 2,
together with some of the later annexed areas, such as, the Town Hall Home sections, can be
considered for senior citizen status.

These areas are the heart and soul of the City of Palm Beach Gardens. This is where the City of Palm
Beach Gardens cut its teeth. Here is where it learned to walk tall and be proud. Many of today’s
50,000 residents may not know that it is here that the cornerstones were laid and the
foundations built on which the charm, character, and beauty of Palm Beach Gardens that we
enjoy today was crafted. The first City Council members, the first City board volunteers, the first
volunteer fire department members, the first coaches, directors, and concession Moms for the
Palm Beach Gardens Youth Athletic Association, the first residents who insisted on high quality
levels of education in our local schools, and so on, all lived in these original plats. It’s from the
dedication and hard work of these original residents that the traditions of volunteerism, fiscal
responsibility and high level of municipal services in our City government, and the other great
Gardens’ attributes where woven into the fabric of our City.

In essence, the City Council and City Administration are the HOA for these areas. In my opinion, it is
time long overdue for the City Council to take stock of these areas with an eye toward the
attendant problems that age can and is manifesting. In my presentation at the July 10th City
Council meeting I related some of my concerns and observations about the Plat 1 neighborhood
which is the neighborhood I grew up in and therefore most familiar with. Below I attempt to
highlight just a few of the obvious City areas that need corrective measures…

1. The Multi-family duplexes throughout the City but particularly along Holly Drive between
Ironwood and Lighthouse Drive in Plat 1.
2. City owned property on the corner of Ironwood and Lighthouse Drive.
3. City swale areas along Holly Drive on the east side between Ironwood and Lighthouse Drive.
4. City swale areas along Lighthouse Drive to Riverside Drive.
5. Medians along Alternate A1A between RCA Blvd and the City’s south boundary.
6. Median and city swales along Keating Drive from Northlake Blvd.
7. Paving of Holly Drive and other neighborhood streets and sidewalks in need of repair.
8. Cross-walk, street stop bars, and lane line separators in some areas need attention.
9. Paver stone areas of MacArthur Blvd. as well as some sidewalks could use a pressure cleaning.
10. Canals in general, particularly along Gardens East Drive in the Sandalwood and Meridian areas.
11. The Promenade Shopping Plaza, as well as, other commercial areas in the original plats.
12. Absentee owners of investment and rental properties.

It is imperative that the City Council commit to a face lift for these neighborhoods before the aging
process becomes irreversible. A City Council policy of enhancement, appearance, beautification,
and improvement should be considered now before it is too late. Among many suggestions that
can be offered to solve some of the problems, I would offer the following as a starting point…

1. Identify enhancement, appearance, beautification, and improvement needs directly related to
City responsibilities such as, roads, sidewalks, swales, and medians, etc. and make them better.
2. A review of the neighborhoods to identify the obvious and potential problems, such as the
duplex properties on Holly Drive, and absentee owners of investment and rental properties.
3. A review of city codes and ordinances with the intent to remove the inappropriate and
modernize for today’s needs.
4. Perhaps, additional code compliance officers should be considered for these neighborhoods.
5. Add to WOW program requesting City personnel to identify neighborhood enhancement needs.
6. Reinvigorate the Community Action Support Team and the Property Maintenance Standards.
7. Consider implementing an Enhancement hotline and/or a specific Enhancement link and/or area
on the City’s website that is customer friendly.
8. Emphasize to our residents that the City, in its enhancement and compliance efforts, desires to
be their friend and partner in seeking improvements in a helpful manner.
9. Perhaps, create a Gardens list of businesses that are willing to offer services to our needy
residents on a volunteer basis or at least at discounted rates.
10. Consider an umbrella-type City-wide Enhancement, Appearance, and Beautification program
with resident, HOA, and civic organizations participation.

None of what is needed to provide corrective measures or that I am suggesting as fixes are budget
busting propositions. Taxes need not be increased and assessments are not necessary. The
policies can be modestly budgeted for and cost effectively administered by the City
Administration once established by the City Council. The policies can be administered over
number of budget years, if need be. Quite frankly, it is my opinion that these initiatives, if
commenced and implemented with the fortitude for success, will enhance and increase
property values, thus, providing an increase in property taxes that could make the program
revenue neutral.

My goal, if you will, is not just to complain or point fingers, and so forth. I have no ax to grind. I am
just a resident with concerns. In the main, we have a great City to call our home. I want to help
to keep it that way. Simply said I want our City to be the best it can be every day. Our City’s
appearance is a first impression that should underscore who and what we are. The City’s
appearance is an indicator to those of us who live here, to our visitors and guests who come
here, to our business prospects who are considering moving here, and to our neighbors, that we
value and care for, our properties, our people, and our quality of life.

I look forward to your response, comment and opinion. Thank you for your service to our City.

Steven Martino

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