The Council Chambers were packed with friends and family of the incoming and outgoing Council members on Thursday, Apr 6th. Mayor Tinsley called the meeting to order, and after the Pledge of Allegiance and acceptance of the results of the Municipal Election, she, Vice-Mayor Jablin and Council Member Premuroso stepped off the dais while incoming members Mark Marciano, Matthew Lane and Rachelle Litt each took their oaths of office and took their places at the dais. At this point, City Manager Ferris spoke about his relationship with each of the outgoing members and presented each with crystal gavels as a token of the City’s appreciation for their accomplishments, love of and dedication to Palm Beach Gardens.
Next came the nomination and appointment of the Mayor and Vice-Mayor. In both cases, Council Member Lane moved to nominate and close nominations for Maria Marino and Mark Marciano, respectively. Both were voted-in unanimously and new Mayor Marino took the gavel.
Comments from the public included welcomes and well wishes from Tom Cairnes of PGA Corridor, Ken Tooma, also of the PGA Corridor, former Mayor Joe Russo, former Mayor David Levy, Gunster Attorney, Gardens resident and member of many PB County organizations Brian Seymour, resident Pat Hughey, former Council candidates Joseph R. Russo and Michael Paolercio. Margaret Kennard of North Palm Beach addressed concerns about handicapped space distance from Planet Fitness and asked that the Council address alternatives. Tom Murphy, President of the Palm Beach Gardens Police Foundation spoke of upcoming two $2500 scholarships along with welcomes to the new council.
As the Council turned to business, the chambers literally cleared out, leaving a handful of folks and staff for the remainder of the meeting. Both Ordinance 12, 2107 (and related Resolution 22, 2017) second reading and adoption, and Ordinance 13, 2017 passed 5:0.
There were no City Manager or City Attorney reports.
During Items for Council Action and Discussion, each of the new Council members expressed in turn what their election meant to them and their hopes for the City’s future. Vice Mayor Marciano asked City Manager Ferris for some ideas on how to coordinate future outreach by the Council to the communities throughout the City. He expressed the idea for town-hall (our term, not his) type get-togethers in both those communities that have HOAs (and respective club houses) and those that don’t (perhaps having such informal meetings at the library). We are very supportive of Marciano’s proposal and hope that it will be a continuous effort by the Council members. This will be discussed further in the May City Council meeting, as will board and committee assignments for the Council Members.
Mayor Marino also pointed out that only 2 members of the public attended the New Council Orientation earlier in the week and hoped that others would take the time to view it online. It has an excellent overview of the various responsibities of the Council and staff alike and we encourage any future candidates and all residents to check it out here.
We also wish to thank former Mayors Jablin, Premuroso and Tinsley for their contributions to the City, and congratulate the new council for taking on the responsibilities and commitment to Palm Beach Gardens!
The March 14 municipal elections in Palm Beach Gardens yielded a pair of winners – Dr. Mark Marciano in Group 1 and Matthew Lane in Group 3. No candidate got a majority in the four way race in Group 5, so Rachelle Litt and Joe Russo will meet in a runoff on 3/28.
In Group 1, the seat currently held by Bert Premuroso, Dr. Marciano performed strongly in most areas of the city, winning by 33 points with 66% of the vote. A long time participant in city government, Mark served on the budget committee for quite a few years and is a regular at city council meetings. His challenger, Michael Paolercio, a newcomer to city politics came closest in Frenchman’s Reserve and Creek, where he lives.
In Group 2, the seat currently held by Eric Jablin, Matthew Lane avoided a runoff in the three way race by capturing 50.2% – a majority by 13 votes. Matthew, who entered the race over a year ago has also been a regular at council meetings and is active in many local civic organizations. Of his two challengers, Quicken Loans founder and past Senate candidate Ron Berman did well in the Gardens last fall, but was a newcomer to city issues and that may have come across. Challenger Katie Gettinger has been active in local issues and a regular at council meetings, but her lightly funded campaign did not do any direct mail or put up signs, possibly limiting her exposure to the voters.
In Group 5, the seat currently held by Mayor Marcie Tinsley, Pharmacist Rachelle Litt and tech enterpreneur Joe Russo won 37% and 34% of the vote respectively, advancing to the runoff election on 3/28. Of the others in this four way race, challenger Kevin Easton, who has run for Council several times before and was a principal in advancing term limits in the Gardens, polled 9% while retired Attorney George Wicker won 20%. Mr. Wicker did especially well in BallenIsles (where he lives), getting 51% of the vote there, 41% of his total vote count. Mr. Wicker also won Frenchman’s Reserve and Creek by 12 votes over Rachelle Litt.
|Strong Marciano||Weak Marciano||Very Close||Weak Paolercio||Strong Paolercio|
|Click the precinct on the map for vote totals.|
|Precinct||Registered||Votes Cast||Turnout %||Marciano||Paolercio||Marciano
|Strong Lane||Weak Lane||Very Close||Weak Berman/Gettinger||Strong Berman/Gettinger>|
|Click the precinct on the map for vote totals.|
|Precinct||Registered||Votes Cast||Turnout %||Berman||Gettinger||Lane||Lane
|Strong Litt||Weak Litt||Very Close||Weak Russo||Strong Russo>|
|Click the precinct on the map for vote totals.|
|Precinct||Registered||Votes Cast||Turnout %||Easton||Litt||Russo||Wicker||Litt/Russo
This, the last full Council meeting for three of the members, began with heartfelt thanks and goodbyes from Council Member Premuroso, Vice Mayor Jablin and Mayor Tinsley during Items of Resident Interest. See Sarah Peter’s article here.
Comments from the Public also were related to their upcoming departure, with former Mayor Joe Russo, Tom Cairnes of the PGA Corridor, Joseph R Russo and Joanie Elias all thanking the departing council and recounting memories and accomplishments.
Resolution 30, 2017 sparked the most fireworks at a Council meeting in quite awhile. Mayor Tinsley had asked that the item be moved to immediately following 2nd reading and adoption of Ordinance 9, 2017 and its associated Resolution 20, 2017 which approved the Gardens Corporate Center PUD – with two eleven story office buildings and a three story garage for the NE corner of PGA Blvd and Alt A1A. The corporate center was approved 5:0 with pyramids (shown in the picture). The controversy arose over the applicant’s request to consider the two pyramids atop the office buildings as art, to meet the AIPP (Art in Public Places) requirement for the complex. The City requires that 1% of the cost of the $40 million project be alloted to AIPP. The cost of the two pyramids atop the buildings come out to almost $1 million, thus over twice the amount needed to meet the AIPP requirements. However staff disagreed strenuously that the pyramids were an intrinsic part of the buildings and in the approval of related waivers (eg height) and were NOT art. The disagreement began immediately with a request by the developer’s representative to postpone the Resolution 30, 2017 to the May City Council meeting. This would mean that an entirely new Council would be hearing the request, while the current Council – which had been involved with the project and just approved it, would have no say. After hearing arguments on both sides, Council Member Woods wanted to postpone to the May meeting, and Council Member Marino also wanted postponement as well. Vice Mayor Jablin made a motion to not postpone the discussion. The motion passed 3:2 with Marino and Woods voting nay.
Both the developer and staff then made their presentations. The developer made his case based on lack of functionality of the pyramids, that the Corporate Center’s site was not visible to the public while the pyramids would be seen by those driving in any direction, and that they were designed by an artist. Staff reiterated that the building approvals were obtained with the pyramids there, that one of the requirements of AIPP is that the artwork be unique (but the buildings are inspired by almost identical building pair in Miami where the pyramids were not counted as art), and that a 2007 ordinance specifically rejects architectural features as art. After much discussion, the Council voted 5:0 to reject the applicant’s request. Council Member Woods did offer compromise suggestions saying that perhaps the developer could do something art-related with the water wall. However staff was quick to point out that the water wall itself was not art and that an art element would have to be added. But that is for a future discussion with the new council.
All other Ordinances and Resolutions passed 5:0 with little discussion. Kathryn Gettinger made comments regarding Ordinances 7 and 8 2017 raising her concerns about the regulations with respect to wheel stops and parking on the grass. George Wicker, on the board at Ballenisles spoke in favor of Resolution 21, 2017 amending documents for the development.
There were no City Manager and City Attorney reports.
NOTE: The February City Council meeting will be held on Thursday February 9th – save the date!
The January 5th City Council Meeting had so many topics that two of the most significant items – handling of the expected Sales Tax Surtax dollars and Future Annexation Plans for 26 areas, spilled over until Friday January 6th. Thus some of those 24 or so speakers who patiently waited until the Thursday meeting was adjourned at about 11:20 pm, had to return on Friday.
Thursday’s meeting included:
- Presentation of a check for almost $19K to the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center money raised through the City’s Annual Mayor’s Veterans Golf Classic. The PBG Police Foundation also raised $5K.
- A short video on the Honda Classic by Ken Kennerly and Andrew George, Tournament Staff. The Honda Classic dates this year are February 20-26. Big news during the week was that Tiger Woods would be participating and sales have gone ‘through the roof’!
- FDOT’s Scott Thurman, Project Manager for the I-95/Northlake Interchange project, reviewed 3 alternatives. See more details on the project website.
- Police Chief Stepp and City Attorney Max Lohman gave an update on Sober Homes. The City will participate in State Attorney Aronberg’s Sober Home Task Force. There are regulations that could be customized and implemented by the City that would apply to all rentals but would be useful. The Sober Home hotline for the County is 1-844-324-5463. See Palm Beach Post’s article here.
- Consent Agenda passed 5:0
- 2nd Reading and Adoption of Avenir’s Community Development District passed 5:0. Christine Schwartz, resident of the Acreage, spoke against CDDs in general, describing the process as ‘taxation without representation’.
- Ordinances 1 and 2, 2017 were amending and rezoning what will be Trevi Isles – a 12.5 acre parcel on the North side of Hood Road immediately West of the Turnpike. Mayor Tinsley recused herself as her husband has done work with the developer. Residents and representatives of the Eastpointe community immediately adjacent to the west of the parcel spoke against the development. Eastpointe is not a part of the City. Some of the comments made were: Hood Road safety and traffic, that when the City annexed the parcel it was to be left as wetlands, issues about drainage where Eastpointe’s drainage system and Trevi Isles would be separate. The Council voted 4:0 to pass.
- Ordinance 3, 2017 was the annual Budget amendment reconciling 2016 to 2017 realities. The amendment moves $4.5 million out of the Budget Stabilization Reserve Account with $3.67 in new, not previously discussed spending on Sandhill Crane Golf Course, Clubhouse and a Golf Training Facility. Council Member Premuroso praised the Finance team on their handling of the Budget however thought that the Council should wait until after the election to allow the new Council to decide on new spending out of the Budget Stabilization Reserve Account. Mayor Tinsley felt similarly that some of the bigger items not currently in the Budget should be delayed. However Vice Mayor Jablin, Council Members Marino and Woods were in strong agreement that the decision should be made by the current council, were thrilled with the golf course improvements and the item passed 3:2.
- Ordinance 4, 2017 – The Annexation of Osprey Isles, Carleton Oaks, Star of David Cemetery and West Palm Beach Fire Station #8 will be on the March 14, 2017 ballot so that the residents of those communities can vote on the issue.
- Ordinance 5 established new responsibilities of the Budget Oversight Review Board to include the Sales Tax Surtax and passed 5:0.
- Resolution 4, 2017 amending the site plan for Gardens Mall will allow the new Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant in the area between Macy’s and Sears including outdoor seating. Resolution 7 will allow the development of a gated townhome community and specialty grocery in the area of Midtown at the Gardens just East of Shady Lakes. Residents from Shady Lakes expressed their concerns about traffic and safety in an area already difficult to traverse. Both resolutions passed 5:0.
Friday’s meeting covered the two remaining agenda items:
- Sales Tax Surtax – Resolution 12, 2017 on the discussion of a formal policy and plans on the spending of the expected revenues from the infrastructure Sales Tax Surtax passed in November, 2016. The revenue is expected to be about $35 million over 10 years, however the Council and staff, in less than 3 hours, eagerly and unanimously approved plans to borrow, and spend $30 million in less than 3 years. Many people came out in support of the spending on the park plans, and only two people, Council candidates Joe Russo and Kathryn Gettinger expressed caution. (Editorial comment: When one considers how much time has been spent in past meetings on details of signage, wall height and plantings for various projects, the lack of debate or discussion seems breathtaking.) For more details on the meeting see the Palm Beach Post coverage here.
- Annexation Study and Policy – Last on the agenda was Resolution 13, 2017 – a very long and detailed study of future annexation areas. Twenty-six areas were analysed for potential annexation with the policy whenever possible to be Voluntary (such as the Balsamo property annexed last year); enclaves of 110 acres or less through interlocal agreements (eg with the County), and Involuntary Annexation – such as the Carlton Oaks et al annexation approved in Ordinance 4, 2017 above. “Annexation is part of the City’s sustainable growth strategy. It is a tool to increase the City’s revenue, compact boundaries, utilize tax dollars in most efficient way, and to provide better services for residents.” There was public comment from two individuals – one had suggestions for better itemizing the benefits to annexed businesses and homeowners; the second speaker was the Village Planner of North Palm Beach. A few of the areas listed were also overlapping with future annexation areas of North Palm Beach. Discussions to resolve those overlaps were started in 2010 but were not resolved. The speaker submitted a letter from North Palm Beach to resume those discussions, as well as a letter from Karen Marcus who was unable to attend on Friday. The Council gushed over the report and plan and passed it 5:0.
Note: Not listed on the City’s calendar but of public interest – Vice Mayor Jablin will conduct a ceremony lighting the Menorah for Hanukkah on Wednesday,December 28 at 6pm by the tree at Burns Rd Community Center – all are welcome.
The last City Council meeting of the year was relatively short but covered a range of topics.
Candice Temple, Media Relations Manager, gave a synopsis of November 19th’s Unity Day (Palm Beach Gardens and the Anita Banks Justice for Corey Foundation), and presented a beautiful painting of Corey Jones with wishes posted during the event to Sheila Banks and Terry Banks – Corey’s aunt and uncle. See an image of the painting in Sarah Peter’s article.
During Comments from the Public:
- I-95 Central Blvd Interchange – Don Mathis spoke in-depth on flaws in the FDOT models and assumptions used for the I-95 Central Blvd Interchange. One specific example he cited were the additional trips modeled for Kyoto Gardens Drive – 2600 new jobs but only 100 extra trips in the morning and 200 in the afternoon? Also the PGA interchange had flaws. Don said that staff has not presented an accurate picture of FDOT’s plans. He is doing this on behalf of several homeowners and by himself. Don provided staff with his documents and staff will review it in the future.
- Gardens of Woodbury (along Shady Lakes Drive) Residents Marty Gronek, David Einhorn and Scott Workman (attorney for Gardens of Woodbury HOA) asked for a wall or better noise abatement and traffic calming measures, as were provided along Shady Lakes subdivision. Mr. Workman thanked Council Member Woods for taking the time to meet with the concerned residents. City Engineer Todd Engle then gave a presentation showing the mature trees that line the road, landscaping plans, and explaining why the oak trees make a wall impractical/impossible.
First Reading of Ordinance 17, 2016 was to establish a Community Development District (CDD) for Avenir. (CDD Definition. A Community Development District (CDD) is a local, special purpose government authorized by Chapter 190 of the Florida Statutes as amended and is an alternative method for managing and financing infrastructure required to support community development.) This would be in lieu of an HOA. Council confirmed that the CDD area described excludes any of the land area donated to the City of Palm Beach Gardens. For more information see this article.
Consent Agenda Items and 2nd Reading and Adoption Items all passed 5:0. All on the Council wished everyone Happy Holidays.
Note – The December City Council Meeting will be held on Thursday December 1 at 7pm
There were quite a few items on the November 16, 2016 City Council Meeting – All Ordinances and Resolutions passed 5:0 with the exception of Playground Equipment for Ironwood Park (pulled from Consent and discussed) – 4:1 ( Council Member Premuroso opposed) and Resolution 77, 2016 – Appointment to Police Officers Pension Board (Council Member Woods was not present for the vote) – 4:0
The discussion on equipment for Ironwood Park Playground began when Council Member Premuroso pulled the item from Consent and suggested that the neighborhood expected a passive park, and by putting in playground equipment (including a kiddy zipline), the nature of the park had changed. Mayor Tinsley suggested that perhaps the vote be delayed for a month with signage to note what was planned for the site to solicit neighborhood input. But staff seemed to be adamant that the immediate neighbors that were reached were happy with the plans and that it should go forward without further input. Most on the Council supported the active park and the purchase award was approved.
Changes were made to Alton to add a 256-bed Memory Care Assisted Living Facility (Clarity Pointe) as well as a public park, and convert uses in other areas of the property. There was little discussion by Council and no public comment. Immediately upon second reading and passage of the Balsamo property annexation, the property was rezoned (on 1st reading) and will become, upon approval in January, a 97 single-family unit development named Ancient Tree – between Avenir and Sandhill Crane Golf Course. The council welcomed the owners to the City.
Additional development approved included:
- a 2-story bank with professional offices and drive-through ATM located on the south side PGA Blvd. near Military trail and next to the SunTrust Bank.
- the changes to Prosperity Oaks/Brookdale Palm Beach Gardens to add a memory care facility
Art in Public Places was approved for PGA National Commerce Park featuring the work of Peter Garaj. The stainless steel structure is entitled “Hands of Time”
The final discussion of the evening revolved around a long-standing issue between Frenchman’s Creek, the town of Juno Beach, the county’s Property Appraiser and the City with respect to Frenchman’s Creek Beach Club Property Tax (see Palm Beach Post for an overview of the issue from May 2015) . After debate on whether or not there should be further meetings with the new Property Appraiser, Dorothy Jacks – the council voted to make no changes to the City’s current position, and Mayor Tinsley will inform Frenchman’s Creek.
NOTE: There will be a second November City Council Meeting on Wednesday, November 16th.
The Council Chambers were packed at the Nov 3rd City Council meeting with citizens from primarily the Plat 1 area of Palm Beach Gardens impacted by Sober Homes in their community. City Attorney Max Lohman presented a review of the current definitions, statutes/laws and limitations on local community actions with respect to Sober Homes. His presentation can be viewed here (starting at minute 14:30); you can read a copy of the Powerpoint presentation here (you will need software that can open a Powerpoint file). Sarah Peters of the Palm Beach Post covers the Sober Home discussion. Those making public comment expressed their frustrations as well as dismay at how such rentals were not considered commercial endeavors in residential areas.
The Council began with a presentation honoring former Mayor/Council Member David Levy for his twelve years of service to the City. He was presented with a plaque as well as a crystal gavel and made touching remarks as well.
City Manager Ferris requested that the presentation portion of the Council discussion on the Central Blvd/I-95 interchange be brought to the front of the meeting while the chambers were full. In short, the interchange hs been 18 years in the making. Development orders required a right of way for all impacted subdivisions and new residents had to be informed about the potential interchange. Alton, FPL, Paloma and Cimmaron Cove were all considered in the studies. Staff concluded that they recommended approval as is. During Public Comment which preceded the presentation Elissa Cohen, President of the Paloma HOA, Sandra Abraham also of Paloma and Dave Rebholz of Old Palm all expressed support for a new traffic study, or to put the project on hold. Don Mathis suggested that it’s the PGA/I-95 PGA interchange needed to be factored more into the plans. The Council, when discussing the topic towards the end of the agenda, praised Andrea Troutman, consultant from Pinder Troutman Consulting, the traffic engineer for Palm Beach Gardens, on her clear explanations of the studies and status of the I95/Central Blvd interchange. The Council had several questions for staff which were addressed. In related discussion, FDOT will be having “An Alternatives Public Workshop will be held on Thursday, December 8, 2016, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Marriott Palm Beach Gardens, 4000 RCA Boulevard, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410.” about the Northlake/I-95 interchange. For more details see http://www.95northlake.com/public-notices.php
All Ordinances and resolutions passed 5:0. Other comments made by the public included Jervonte Edmonds of Suits for Seniors, thanking Council Member Marino, plus a member of the City’s Police department for speaking at his Career Day; Kevin Dalton, who owns 3 business in Palm Beach Gardens, suggesting that Central Blvd be renamed for either Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus. (Council replied that Central is a County road). Mr. Dalton also said that he has employed people from 1/2 way homes (eg Sober Homes) and they do have to hand in their cell phone when having their group meetings so perhaps those meetings could be considered ‘treatment’ – which is forbidden in Sober Homes.
Council, during items of Resident Interest and Board/Committee reports commended staff on their outstanding preparation for Hurricane Matthew.
Update – All Items in the 2nd Hearing and City Council Meeting on 9/22 passed 5:0. Public Comment on a non-agenda item was made by Mary Ott regarding the City’s towing contract and her filed protest.
Mayor Tinsley remarked that City Attorney Lohman will be responding to the protest, following protocol.
The first of two 2016/2017 Budget Hearings was held on 9/8. Most in the audience, however, were there for the presentations of the 9/11 Remembrance Essay Recipient and the Sandhill Crane Juniors Golf Team – Winners of the SFPGA Summer League. Congratulations all!
City Manager Ferris announced more awards for the one-man Purchasing Department – 2016 Excellence in Procurement award and UPPCC award for Km! Ra – Congratulations! Ferris also showed an animated video of the traffic on 117th Ct – comparing traffic on 8/17/15 vs 8/17/16 highlighting the City’s improvements.
Public Comment included:
- Mark Marciano complementing the City’s sports fields and requesting higher fencing at Gardens Park.
- Jervonte Edmonds of Delray Beach speaking about his innovative non-profit Suits for Seniors – preparing HS Seniors on proper behavior and tips for job interviews. After an 8 week program, Seniors get a nice fitted suit for their job interviews. He currently has a program in Dwyer HS and was asking the Council to participate in Career Day.
- Joe Russo congratulated Keith Bryer on his appointment to Fire Chief.
The Consent Agenda passed 5:0
The first hearing of both the 2016/2017 Proposed Budget and the total Impact Fee Revision passed 5:0. The only public comment was by Fred and Iris Scheibl on the budget – pointing out that this is an 8.3% ad-valorem revenue increase, that this will hit non-homestead properties very hard, and to please consider splitting the difference and giving some relief to the tax-payers. Joni Alias had not planned to speak, but felt she had to counter the comments by the Scheibls, in support of the tax increase. See here for a short article on the increase.
All on the Council supported the budget as did the Budget Oversight Committee. Council Member Premuroso, who also advised the Budget Oversight Committee, spoke about the strategy during the hard times, and the current strategy of 5 years of flat millage based on revenue projections. He did not mention, however, that the Ad Valorem revenue expected in 2017 is significantly higher than projected, and almost matches the ad-valorem taxes projected for 2018… The following chart is from page 51 of the Fiscal Year 2015/2016 Budget.
The second hearing for the Proposed Budget and the Impact Fee Revisions will be held on September 22 at 7pm. See the agenda here for any changes. Expect it to be a short meeting. The Consent Agenda includes one Purchase Award for a 3-yr contract/lease for a fleet of golf carts with GPS for Sandhill Crane Golf Club. The item was competitively bid and is valued at $330K.
NOTE: There will be an FDOT Hearing on the Central Boulevard I-95 Interchange on Wednesday, September 28th at City Hall. See the Notice.
The FY2017 Budget for Palm Beach Gardens will be discussed at the first public hearing on September 8.
Property valuations are up significantly this year, and some jurisdictions are reaping large windfalls by leaving their millage flat. The county for example, will see a tax increase of over 8%, which will be their largest budget in history, growing by $60M in new taxes – bigger than the entire budget for PBG.
The Gardens Council is apparently as greedy as the county and does not propose to return any of the valuation windfall to the taxpayer. It should be noted that this year’s proposed $55M in revenue is the largest budget to date (an increase of $5M), far exceeding those of the boom years of 2007-2008.
As the included chart shows, when the valuation bubble burst in 2008, PBG increased the millage to maintain flat tax revenue around $50M, then relented in 2009 and let revenue decline below $45M as the economy remained stagnant. Now that there is an increase in valuation (over 8% this year) the proposed flat millage will produce a proportional rise in revenue (on top of 5% last year).
Keep in mind that the proposed sales tax surcharge will return a further windfall to the city if it passes, yet that is hardly mentioned. It would be appropriate for the city to reduce the millage this year and keep the tax increase to a more reasonable level.
The ‘new’ Council was finally complete, 5 months after the Municipal Elections. Council Member Woods, while sworn in a couple of weeks ago, formally took the Oath of Office at the beginning of the meeting and made a short, heartfelt and humorous statement.
EMS Division Chief James Ippolito described, and others spoke about the City, first in Palm Beach County, receiving the American Heart Association 2016 Mission Lifeline EMS Gold Award. Kudos to Fire/Rescue.
All Public Hearings/Resolutions and the Consent Agenda passed 5:0, with discussion on two Consent Items:
- Resolution 60, 2016, approving the crossing agreement with the City, FEC and All Aboard Florida (AAF), was described by the City Attorney. Changes to the existing agreement primarily was caused by the addition of AAF, and the construction/maintenance entailed by the addition of a 2nd track.
- Resident Vito DeFrancesco expressed concern with wording in the Settlement Agreement Alexander V. The City of Palm Beach Gardens, Et. Al., which sounded like the agreement was not being publicly recorded and thus avoiding Freedom of Information requests. City Attorney Lohman replied that the entire text of the settlement was in the City’s records (and in the agenda details) and that the wording of the phrase which concerned Mr. DeFrancesco, was commonly used to mean that private suits are not recorded with the County Clerk.**
Comments from the Public resulted in the most discussion:
- Sid Dinerstein, of the Palm Beach County Term Limits Committee, and initiator of the lawsuit challenging David Levy’s eligibility for office, challenged the new Council to resolve and take two votes that night:
1) Get the people’s money back from the City Attorney for the Term Limits lawsuit
2) Start paying for the Inspector General
City Manager Ferris replied, during his report, that the City Attorney acted at the behest of the City. He did not address the IG Lawsuit. Nor did the Council pursue either subject later in the meeting.
- Cynthia Medley, raised an issue regarding construction of the new City Park. Her property is adjacent to the park and construction has made lights fall in her kitchen, construction seems to be happening on the weekend as well.
- Shady Lakes was the topic for Kathy Beamer and Jeff Hiscock. Ms. Beamer stated that the construction contract for the 3 parts of the project was issued in November, 2015 – several months before the plans were approved, and that her FOIA requests went unanswered on the contract. She also pointed out that each of the 3 portions of the project came in under $2 million, which is the point at which a project must go out for public bid. Was that to avoid public scrutiny? Beamer also asked once again that the 117th project be completed before starting Shady Lakes, and re-assess. Mr. Hiscock also added, ‘why the rush?’ – delay the Shady Lakes construction until next year and re-visit the vote when the new council is seated. (Note – 3 seats are up for election in the March 2017 Municipal Election). The subject resulted in immediate responses from Mayor Tinsley, Mr. Ferris and Mr. Lohman – each pointing out different aspects of the project including:
- Fire/Rescue need for second entry
- Shady Lakes tied into agreement for 117th with School Board
- Traffic reassessment still resulted in need for the Shady Lakes component
- Access to the City Park/Tennis Center via Shady Lakes Drive is both shorter and avoids the schools
- The project was voted on over a year ago, each part having separate Council votes with estimates under $2 million.
At this point, Comments from the Public resumed. Other Comments made before and after the Shady Lakes ‘interruption’ include:
- Resident Vito DeFrancesco pointed out that Mr. Woods should have been seated in March, and was denied so due to a misinterpretation by staff of the Charter. He also said that all votes taken since March should be reworked. (Note – since the Council has voted unanimously 4:0 or 5:0 on all items since that time – no different outcome would have resulted – although clearly had Council Member Woods had a strong argument differing with those votes, he could have swayed the remainder of the Council, changing the results.)
- Barbara McQuinn (candidate for School Board District 1) and Tony Bennett (Candidate for County Commission District 1) both introduced themselves.
- Tom Murphy, President of the PBG Police Foundation, reminded the public that the deadline for the 9/11 essay contest is coming up. See details here.
- Michael Marsh, of Vero Beach – who has spoken several times on his friend Corey Jones as well as use of body cameras, thanked the City for how fast it implemented the cameras and changed Policy and Procedures.
- Troy McDonald, on the Council of Stuart, came to congratulate Mr. Woods and to offer advice on attaining public office.
- Barbara Grossman read parts of a letter she had sent to the Council detailing safety issues with All Aboard Florida.
During Items for Council Action/Discussion – Mayor Tinsley asked that there be a Proclamation drafted to honor and thank former Mayor and Councilman David Levy at the next Council meeting in September. All were in agreement.
**PBGWatch has a different issue with the Settlement between Mr. Alexander, Avenir and the City. Mr. Alexander is NOT a resident of Palm Beach Gardens. He lives in IBIS. So should a Charter Review Committee be assembled, our position is that it should consist of Residents of the City. We will raise the issue when the subject arises before the Council in the future.