Farewell to Joe Russo and Progress on Some Major Issues

There was only one Public Hearing on the March 3rd Agenda, Signage Amendment for the Gardens Commerce Center – which passed 5:0. However much of the meeting was spent on several topics.

First on the agenda was recognition of Barbara Nicklaus and the impact she has had on the Gardens, living here for the last 50 years. She was awarded a Key to the City and a plaque for her efforts on the Nicklaus Children’s Health Foundation. Council Member Joe Russo read the proclamation, as a long time friend of the family.

March 3, 2016

Sherry Brown, Assistant Budget Director for Palm Beach County, gave a very brief update on the status of the proposed sales tax increase with little detail and discussion. Purchasing Director Km! Ra and Special Projects Director Charlotte Prezensky gave an update on the status of the new Golf Club House and the awarding of the design/build contract. Public input will be sought on the City website as well as at a Residents’ Day at the golf course on March 17th from 9-10:30 and 4-7 (extended from the original 6pm by request of Council Member Premuroso). Council Member Tinsley asked how long buildout would take – and the target is 16 months to completion. Council Member Russo expressed concern that 40-60 banquets/years not interfere with the golfers.

The Council reserved much of the Items of Resident Interest to thanking Joe Russo for his 27 years of service to Palm Beach Gardens, as both Mayor and Council Member. Joe, in turn thanked everyone, highlighted what he viewed as the major City accomplishments over the period, and suggested that the City consider Districts and direct election of a mayor as it continues to grow. He ended with advising future councils to ‘be a leader and always listen!’

Comments from the Public included:

  • Carol Courtney, of 40th Terrace spoke of the destruction of beautiful trees by the City, who did so without a survey, fines against Kevin Easton of $500/day, her arrest, and public record requests ignored, related to the Sunset Terrace/40th Terrace city water project.
  • Warm thanks to Joe Russo and to his family from former County Commissioner Karen Marcus, Tequesta Mayor Abby Brennan, Mark Marciano (via a letter read by Joni Alias, Joni Alias and from Joe Russo’s son, Joseph R. Russo who described growing up in the City with his father always on the council and his father’s dedication and service to the City.
  • Residents opposed to the Shady Lakes Extension included Ruth Peeples, Craig Allgood, Kathy Beamer, Barry Mandelewicz, and Vito DeFrancesco all reinforcing the point that they’re not being listened to.
  • Flax Court neighbors Margaret Collins and Gary Pitchford questioned and discussed the results of the Special Magistrate Meeting, and inappropriate fining/treatment of the property owner and liens on the property.
  • It was the 137th day without answers on the Corey Jones shooting and several friends and family members speaking included Michael Marsh, Terry and Sheila Banks, and Mami Kisner asking for justice. Mayor Jablin said that he would draft a letter to State Attorney Aronberg and urge him to come out with the findings related to the case and hoped the information would bring some measure of peace.
  • Incoming Council Member Maria Marino thanked the Council for the progress on the Golf Club House.

City Manager Report:

Thanks to City Manager Ferris for placing subjects to be covered on the agenda. We hope that he continues to do so every month, making the agenda more valuable for affected or interested parties.

Flax Court Update – as a result of the Special Magistrate – the City will be abating the unfinished roof, securing the structure and addressing the exterior condition including debris removal. At the March 23rd Code Hearing, the owner will be assessed the abatement costs and fines. City Attorney Lohman addressed lien issues. See details from the Palm Beach Post article.

Shady Lakes Extension – Feedback from the residents will be incorporated into the project; once there is a plan to share, there will be a workshop in the April/May timeframe; Ferris cited a consultant report and traffic study justifying the need for the expansion as well as at 117th. He also showed ‘drone’ footage of the traffic patterns during school pickup – worth watching the video to see what the area residents are complaining about! Council Member Levy said priority of 117th Ct should be first and asked if doing that would alleviate the needs for Shady Lakes. Ferris said he would have to defer, without another study. Council Member Tinsley made major progress with the School Board on 117th Ct right-of-way. Council Member Russo said the entire plan should be worked out. The City Manager hopes to have many more answers prior the the workshop.

There were no items for council discussion or City Attorney reports.

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