By Steve Plunkett
The feature most wanted at Boca Raton’s Wildflower site by an admittedly unscientific sample of residents is a wide boardwalk along the Intracoastal Waterway, followed by a water taxi and space for paddleboards and kayaks.
City Council member Scott Singer held an “interactive visioning session about what you’d like to see for our waterfront” at the downtown library on Sept. 19.
“This is not rapid-fire questions of Scott. In fact, this is rapid-fire questions of you all,” Singer told his gathering of roughly 130 people.
Participants filled 12 tables with eight seats apiece, each captained by a planner, architect or resident. The overflow attendees took chairs along the edge of the room and could watch and listen but not otherwise take part.
“This is not a typical discussion about the merits of the Hillstone deal, the history of the Hillstone deal, a lot of that stuff. It’s not a typical discussion to vent to the City Council,” Singer said.
He said the results of the session could help guide council members even if a restaurant eventually goes on the property, just northwest of the Palmetto Park Road bridge. He encouraged participants to consider not only the Wildflower site but also Silver Palm Park just south and the area under the bridge, more than 6 acres in all.
“The goal of this exercise is for you to express what you’d like to see there,” Singer said.
The people at the tables tried to quickly answer questions such as what is good about the site and what needs changing. Then attendees ranked more than 80 images of recreational amenities on a scale of 1 to 5 to gauge which 10 were best.
After the boardwalk, water taxi and paddleboards/kayaks, the other most desirable features were a giant checkerboard, space for yoga, a small stage, an interactive fountain for kids, a water fountain/sculpture, a fence along the waterway and a lush hanging garden.
Some participants questioned the value of the session when the city has not begun its comprehensive waterfront plan to guide further decisions about parks on the Intracoastal and ocean. The City Council approved hiring engineering consultant EDSA Inc. to undertake that study. The Fort Lauderdale firm also has been hired to design and oversee construction of a 12-foot-wide promenade along Delray Beach’s beach.
Singer also announced in September that he is running for re-election to the Boca Raton City Council next March.
The council changed the land-use designation and zoning of the Wildflower parcel in July to accommodate the long-planned Hillstone restaurant. But negotiations on a lease were postponed after a citizen initiative put a question on the Nov. 8 ballot to keep the property for recreational use or allow it to be developed.