By Dan Moffett
Weeks of lingering rain in May have delayed construction and pushed back the opening of the new Publix store at Manalapan’s Plaza del Mar from early June to late July.
But the good news is all that rain will help a revised landscaping plan to take root and grow dozens more palm trees and even beds of graceful, flowing breeze grass and some lovely potted Crinum lilies.
The influx of areca palms behind the stores — 77 of them from Pahokee — comes in response to residents’ complaints about the 20-foot water tank workers installed on the plaza’s south side to raise water pressure enough to satisfy fire code requirements.
The plaza’s developer and landlord, Crossman & Co. and Kitson & Partners, believe the long row of 20- to 25-foot palms will go a long way toward concealing the tank from next-door neighbors at La Coquille Villas.
Mayor Keith Waters agrees. “I think it’s going to very adequately deal with this problem,” Waters said during the Town Commission meeting May 22.
The substitution of the Crinum lilies for pygmy date palms in the front planters and the addition of beds of breeze grass are aesthetic changes to the plan.
Last year, Kitson talked about a June 8 target date for the Publix grand opening. Vice Mayor Peter Isaac says the word from the landlord now is that the target opening is July 28, but that could easily slip into August should tropical rains continue.
In other business, after a spate of car thefts, commissioners in January unanimously approved a plan to expand the Police Department’s number of full-time sworn officers to 12. The expansion is proving more difficult than expected.
Chief Carmen Mattox said the town has “had two setbacks to obtaining full staffing.” One veteran officer has resigned, and Mattox said another was let go after he “failed to perform at an acceptable level” during the department’s field training program.
He said the town has nine full-time officers and three open full-time positions. Despite the staff shortage, Mattox says he is still able to keep three vehicles on patrol during night shifts.
Last year, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office donated a used 21-foot flat boat to Manalapan police for patrolling the Intracoastal Waterway, particularly the area around Bird Island at the Boynton Inlet. Waters said the boat patrols have drawn praise from residents.
“I’ve had a lot of good comments,” the mayor said. “People are glad to see that Manalapan is in the water.”