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By Jane Smith

Delray Beach city commissioners unanimously selected Terrence Moore to be their new city manager on June 8.

City Attorney Lynn Gelin will negotiate the terms of Moore’s employment contract instead of the city’s outside labor counsel, Brett Schneider.

“I’m confident the process will go smoothly,” Gelin said when Schneider was supposed to be involved. Schneider had suggested Commissioner Ryan Boylston as the commission liaison, but Vice Mayor Shirley Johnson wanted Gelin to do the negotiating.

Gelin agreed and thanked Johnson for her vote of confidence.

Moore impressed the commission during morning interviews when he said he would move into Delray Beach if selected as city manager.

“You only feel the impact of the decisions if you live here,” Mayor Shelly Petrolia said during the interviews.

Moore most recently served as the city manager of College Park, Georgia, home of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

That city, he said during the interviews, offers only one-year contracts to its city managers. Instead of concentrating on getting his ninth, one-year contract, Moore said he made a concerted effort to separate from the city.

Originally from the South Side of Chicago, his first break in city leadership came in 1995 when he became the assistant city manager in Deerfield Beach.

The two other finalists for the Delray Beach position were Michael Bornstein, former city manager in Lake Worth Beach, and Leonard Sossamon, former interim city manager in Port Richey.

Read more…

By Mary Hladky

Boca Raton officials have canceled a planned July 4th “Fabulous Fourth Celebration” that would have been held at Countess deHoernle Park.

The announcement on the city’s website said the cancellation was a “difficult decision” and thanked residents for their “patience and understanding.”

The city indicated a virtual event would be held instead but did not announce specifics.

The city has sponsored numerous virtual events since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Most recently, the Recreation Services Department hosted a Memorial Day ceremony that residents could watch on the city’s YouTube channel and the recreation department’s Facebook page. The May 31 event also was recorded and could be viewed on YouTube, Facebook, and Comcast Xfinity Channel 20, Hotwire Channel 395 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 99.

Read more…

 

9026569884?profile=RESIZE_710xState Road A1A at Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach often is jammed with vehicles, and the county Transportation Planning Agency labels it a ‘high-crash corridor’ for bicyclists even though it has bike lanes. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star BELOW RIGHT: Steve Barry, needed extensive rehab after a crash in Manalapan. Photo provided

9026570683?profile=RESIZE_400xBy Joe Capozzi

The Jeep SUV struck Jerry Mandello first. Its side mirror sheared off a piece of his left ear and launched Mandello and his bicycle into the hedges outside an estate along State Road A1A in Manalapan.
Steve Barry, pedaling south in front of Mandello, was hit next. The SUV smashed into the rear wheel of his black S-Works bicycle, split the bike in two and dragged Barry several yards along the pavement as two other cyclists in their group of four watched in horror.
Mandello, before fetching the severed chunk of his ear from the side of the road (doctors would sew it back on), ran to his friend.
“His bike was a pretzel and his legs were shredded,’’ he recalled. “I’m shaking him. He’s not moving for a while. I thought he was gone.’’
But Barry, a former Navy officer who did reconnaissance river patrols in the jungles of Vietnam before becoming a successful West Palm Beach accountant, might be the epitome of resiliency. A devoted cyclist, he also climbs ice walls in Montana and snowboards from helicopters on unbroken British Columbia powder.
“One tough dude,’’ said Mandello, who snapped a photo of Barry sitting on the curb after he regained consciousness, his legs black and bloody, a slight grin on his face.
When Barry came to, he looked at his legs and saw gashes with exposed bone and shredded muscle.
“It wasn’t pretty,’’ said Barry, who had his football-damaged knees replaced in 2013.
“As I got thrown off the bike, my pedal and shoe stayed on my foot and separated from the bike. The whole frame was broken in half and there were ragged pieces of carbon everywhere. My legs got sliced and diced on the inside because as I went off the bike I must have hit these carbon pieces that were split sideways.’’
9026584494?profile=RESIZE_584xThe driver of the 1995 Cherokee, an 80-year-old Briny Breezes man, tried to leave the scene, but Barry’s companions blocked his vehicle with their bikes until police arrived.
He was cited for careless driving that day, Feb. 11, 2020. He said he was headed south at 5 p.m. “behind a large line of vehicles when he suddenly heard a thud on the side of his car,’’ according to a Manalapan police report.
He pleaded not guilty. That summer, a judge dismissed the case because the officer who issued the citation failed to attend the driver’s traffic infraction trial, which was held on Zoom, court records show.
By then, Barry was in Big Sky, Montana, going through grueling physical therapy sessions that helped him regain his strength after his wounds were closed with 400 staples and 300 stitches.
“I won’t go back onto the road,’’ said Barry, who mounted the mangled pieces of the bike on the wall of his garage as a reminder. “It’s not worth the risk.”

A1A seen as dangerous
Avid cyclists like Barry have long known that Palm Beach County, in particular the scenic coastal stretches of A1A, can be a dangerous place to ride. But recent statistics show a disturbing trend in fatalities.
Eleven bicyclists were killed in 2020, more than double the number of such fatalities recorded in 2019, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
And with three fatalities through March, the county had been on pace to exceed 2020’s deadly toll. There were no fatalities in April and none through late May.
Legislation awaiting Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature may help keep those numbers down. If signed, the proposed law set to go into effect on July 1 will add several safety initiatives, including a requirement for drivers to stay behind bicyclists if there’s no room to pass.
The rise in bicyclist as well as pedestrian deaths is probably part of a national trend related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“You have a lot more people that are using bicycling and walking as their escape from the pandemic lockup,” said Ocean Ridge Police Chief Hal Hutchins. “When you put more folks on the roadways, it becomes more important for everyone to be careful and follow the rules.’’
But following the rules is not something drivers and bicyclists do on a consistent basis.
Though bicyclists and pedestrians represent just 2% of commuters in Palm Beach County, they made up 30% of all transportation-related fatalities on county roadways from 2018-2020, according to the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency.
“These are our most vulnerable users and they’re a large, disproportionate share of the total fatalities,’’ Andrew Uhlir, the agency’s director of program development, said at a TPA governing board meeting in February.
“We are not heading in the correct direction when it comes to safety.’’
Among the deadliest states for bicyclists, Florida has consistently ranked at or near the top. In 2019, Florida’s 161 bicycle deaths were the highest in the nation, 28 more than No. 2 California had.
In Palm Beach County, a 2017 Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Study by the Palm Beach TPA identified 10 “high-crash corridors.’’ Only one was an area frequented by road cyclists — Ocean Boulevard from Thomas Street (just north of Atlantic Avenue) to Linton Boulevard in Delray Beach.
The other nine “high-crash corridors” were in areas where people ride on generally slower bikes.

Riders can be at fault
It’s not always the motorist’s fault.
Bicyclists don’t always wear proper safety gear and don’t always obey traffic laws, taking chances by crossing busy streets against red lights.
“A lot of it we see is no helmet, safety gear missing, no lights at night. Improper clothing, the color of clothing when you ride your bike and dusk or dawn hours,’’ Delray Beach police Sgt. Hannes Schoeferle said.
And on State Road A1A, cyclists sometimes ride in packs, taking up the travel lane. This can happen even if they abide by the law and ride no more than two abreast.
In South County, Delray Beach and Boca Raton have designated bike lanes on A1A, whereas other municipalities have only shoulders of varying widths. The Gulf Stream and Manalapan shoulders are the narrowest.
“Right or wrong — wrong, obviously — at some point the motorist is really getting worked up,’’ Schoeferle said. “It’s an emotional issue, and they’re going to start passing in a reckless manner. This is when we see crashes.’’
In Ocean Ridge, town officials included in a May newsletter for residents a list of bike safety tips in observance of National Bike Month.
“It is incumbent on all of them to do their part to share what’s available for safe travel and according to the law,’’ Chief Hutchins said.
“Are the bicycle packs of particular concern? I would say some of them are. But so are motorists who don’t follow the rules of the road pertaining to sharing the traffic ways with bicyclists.’’
Many bike clubs remind their members about the rules and how cyclists are supposed to obey the same traffic laws that apply to motor vehicles.

Road design a problem
A big problem is the fact that just about all roads were designed for motor vehicles, not for cyclists.
On most parts of A1A, the predominant place for road cyclists on the barrier island, there are no bike lanes. Cyclists are forced to ride on the shoulder, potentially inches from motor vehicles and often over hazards such as sewer holes and traffic reflectors.
“The road is just not built for cyclists,’’ said Kristy Breslaw of Boca Raton Triathletes. “There is a lot of distracted driving. There’s a lot of people not paying attention when they’re driving.’’

9026577662?profile=RESIZE_584xCut off suddenly
On the morning of July 6, 2018, Sandra Prestia was enjoying “a beautiful ride” as she pedaled south on State Road A1A in Manalapan.
Without warning, a white construction van heading north turned in front of her to enter a condo building on the west side of the road.
“I saw white and then I was in an ambulance,’’ said Prestia, a triathlete who has been riding competitively for 11 years.
The impact snapped her bike in two, but that wasn’t the only damage.
“I T-boned him. It was like my face made an imprint in the van,’’ said Prestia, 41, who was rushed to Delray Medical Center with a concussion.
“My top lip was in three pieces. A plastic surgeon had to sew my lip back together. I had bruises on my knees and legs for at least six months.’’
She didn’t break any bones. But the crash resulted in $70,000 in medical bills, most of it paid by her insurance.
The driver of the van stopped to offer help and, according to what the police told Prestia, “he apologized profusely.’’
Still, she can’t understand how he didn’t see her.
“It was 8 a.m. The roads were completely empty,’’ she said. “There was nothing to take his attention away and not to see me. He just turned in front of me.’’
Six weeks later, she was back on her bike.
“Am I overly cautious now? Oh, yeah,’’ she said. “But to stop doing what I love, cycling, I don’t want to live like that.’’

Rules to change in July
Florida bicyclists will get some added layers of protection in the form of safety changes expected to become law in July.
A bill approved by lawmakers in the recent session would require drivers to change lanes when approaching a bicyclist or pedestrian in the travel lane and, if they cannot safely change lanes, wait at a safe distance behind the bicyclist or pedestrian until there is room to pass.
The current law, section 316.803 of the Florida Statutes, requires drivers to be at least 3 feet from a cyclist when passing, but it makes no provisions for waiting if there’s no room to pass. Safety advocates note that few roads in Florida are wide enough for drivers to obey the 3-foot rule, which is why drivers often ignore it and pass dangerously close to cyclists.
The new law — sponsored by Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, with a companion bill sponsored by state Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, D-Parkland — has an educational aspect. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will be required to launch a public awareness campaign informing motorists about required safety precautions when passing bikes and pedestrians.
The department also will have to include the precautions in driver’s license educational materials and to devote 20% of the questions for the driver’s license tests to bicycle and pedestrian safety.
“This legislation is probably some of the most progressive we have seen,’’ said George C. Palaidis, a Plantation-based attorney and avid bicyclist who often rides from Key Biscayne to Palm Beach.
“For the first time there is a definition of a bicycle lane in the statutes. And the educational aspect of it is huge. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done but it’s a giant step in the right direction.’’

A similar incident
Pedaling north on A1A with another cyclist, Rhonda Wright saw a white car pass them.
“I was in the lead position,” recalled Wright, who was about a mile south of the Lake Worth Beach pier on the morning of July 7, 2019.
“And he just turned straight in front of me to go into a driveway.’’
9026582693?profile=RESIZE_400xWith nowhere to go, Wright slammed the brakes. “I tried to pull my bike down to the right to get out of his way and I went straight into the side of him,’’ she said.
Her bike’s aero bars — an extension mounted close to the center of the handlebar that cantilevers out over the front of the wheel — got caught under the car’s front wheel. Wright was dragged 25 feet across the asphalt before the car stopped.
“My left arm got dragged along the side and I was half underneath his car. I turned onto my bike and thought, ‘I’ve got to get out of here.’ As I flipped myself around, my hand got caught under the car.’’
Her right hand was broken. Her left shoulder dislocated and the labrum was torn. Her helmet was smashed.
“My broken helmet saved me from severe head trauma,’’ said Wright, 66.
She missed two months of work as a home health care aide. She had hand surgery and racked up close to $80,000 in medical bills.
“I can’t hold weights and things like I used to because I have permanent screws and pins in my hand,’’ she said.
She said the driver, “an elderly guy” who worked as a condo security guard, was cited for reckless driving.
“He said he didn’t see us. He was probably in his 80s and I don’t think his peripheral vision was very good,’’ Wright said.
Wright, a triathlete who lives in Boca Raton, still rides competitively but only in races where the roads are closed to motorists.
“I will not ride on A1A because it’s not safe,’’ she said. “You have people out there who have no respect for bikers at all. It’s really a sin.’’

9026618493?profile=RESIZE_400xVision Zero: Safety for all
The Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency is working on ways to protect bicyclists and pedestrians. For one, most new roads in the county are now built with bike lanes.
The Florida Department of Transportation led with changes to its design manual for state roads in the early 2010s and Palm Beach County followed, including bike lanes in its county roadway standards in 2018.
“The TPA Board has also adopted a Complete Streets Policy and a Vision Zero commitment to ensure that all transportation projects funded by the TPA include safe and comfortable facilities for transportation users of all ages and abilities,’’ said TPA Executive Director Nick Uhren.
But more needs to be done, said Robert Weinroth, the Palm Beach County Commission’s vice mayor whose district includes the coastal communities from South Palm Beach to Boca Raton.
He called on local leaders to take “a more proactive approach” aimed at preventing bike and pedestrian accidents, similar to the intense focus investigators give to airline crashes.
“We know statistics don’t fully represent the pain that’s being inflicted on the victims and families of these tragic events,’’ Weinroth said at a recent TPA governing board meeting.
“We need to drill down into these incidents to figure out what it is that is common about these accidents that are causing the carnage on our roadways and what can we do in fixes rather than just continually look at the wrong direction of these trends.’’

Death is a cautionary tale
Steve Brown loved his family, his friends and his bicycle.
He enjoyed back-road biking adventures with his wife, Dana, and riding around his Boca Raton neighborhood and to the beach for exercise. And as the affable co-founder of Brown’s Interiors, he took any opportunity he could to leave the car at home and pedal to a client’s house with a swatch or sample.
On the morning of April 9, 2014, Brown strapped on his bike helmet and set off to see another client. He was bicycling north on the shoulder of Lyons Road around 9 a.m. when a 68-year-old woman driving a minivan lost control and struck Brown from behind. Brown hit the windshield and was thrown onto the sidewalk. He was pronounced dead at the scene, less than 3 miles from home. He was 58.
More than 1,500 people attended his funeral. His death inspired congregants at Temple Beth El in Boca Raton to launch an annual charity bike ride in his memory.
But seven years later, his family remains scarred from the tragedy.
“It affects us every day,’’ said Andrew Brown, a son. “He was head of the family. Head of the business. My mom and him had been happily married for many, many years. They were high school and college sweethearts. My sister was pregnant at the time of the accident, so he never got to see his first grandchild. It was devastating on the family.’’
The driver, Marion Rosenstein, pleaded no contest and was found guilty of unlawfully overtaking and passing a vehicle. Her driver’s license was permanently revoked and she was ordered to complete 120 hours of community service.
In 2011, Rosenstein was cited for running a red light and causing a crash, court records show.
“South Florida can be a hard place to live because it’s so beautiful and you want to bike all day every day, but it’s just … these cars,’’ said Susan Brown Siegel, a daughter.
“I just can’t handle distracted drivers on the road,’’ she continued. “Listen, I know every single person checks their cellphones, but you never think it’s going to be you. I never thought it would happen to my dad. He rode his bike but he wasn’t one of those cyclists on A1A. It was just awful.’’
Brown’s family has been speaking out about the need for better safety measures such as more dedicated bike lanes or even barriers separating cars from bikes.
As for the trend of bicycle fatalities, the Brown family is not surprised.
“The numbers will keep going up because not enough preventive action is being taken and more and more people are using bicycles, especially during the pandemic,’’ said Andrew Brown.
“Unless measures are taken on the safety prevention side, the numbers are going to keep going up. There’s just no way around that.’’

Read more…

9026522096?profile=RESIZE_710xJim Gammon keeps a filled bucket in his bathroom so he can flush in the mornings, when water pressure is worst. Gammon lives on the top floor of the four-story Gulfstream Shores condomium building (below right). Photos by Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star

 

9026533701?profile=RESIZE_400x

 

 

 

By Rich Pollack

Jim Gammon keeps a bucket full of water in the bathroom of his fourth-floor apartment so he can flush the toilet when the water stops flowing through the pipes at Gulfstream Shores condominium.
His wife, Margo Stahl-Gammon, fills a pitcher of water each night before they go to bed to have enough to make coffee in the morning.
Not too long ago, Jim Gammon left the apartment in the wee hours, went to the ground-level hose spigot and, armed with a flashlight, put a couple of gallons in a bucket.
“I was able to get enough water so Margo could take a sponge bath,” he said, explaining that his wife was preparing for an early-morning doctor’s visit.
Since late March the Gammons and the other residents of the 54-unit oceanfront community have been struggling to get by without running water or with just a trickle coming out of the faucets almost every day — primarily between 4 a.m. until about 6 a.m.
The inability to take a shower, flush the toilet or even wash hands has become a source of frustration for residents and something that stumps Gulf Stream town officials as well as those in Delray Beach, which provides water to the town.
“This is not a good way to live,” says Harvey Baumgarten, a member of the board of the Gulfstream Shores Owners Association. “We have got to get it resolved.”
Finding the source of the problem and fixing it have been elusive but not because of a lack of trying.
Residents have been working with Town Manager Greg Dunham and Water Maintenance Supervisor Anthony Beltran, who have spent hours trying to figure out what’s causing the low pressure.
“It’s a mystery to us and we’re trying to get to the bottom of it,” Dunham said. “We’re taking this seriously.”
The town, he said, is using the process of elimination to determine what is causing the problem and has reached out to its engineering consultants, who are investigating.
Also involved are the interim city manager and utilities director from Delray Beach, which sends drinking water to Gulf Stream through two interconnects but is not responsible for the pipes inside town limits.
At the same time, the residents of Gulfstream Shores are exploring the possibility of spending more than $40,000 on booster pumps to increase their water pressure.
“We have an obligation to the people in the building that they should be able to get water,” Baumgarten said.
Questions that have town officials scratching their heads include why the problem is limited primarily to Gulfstream Shores and why it occurs at almost the same time every day.
Although the town has received a few complaints about water pressure from some of the residents in single-family homes, officials say the three other multistory residential buildings in town are not seeing a problem.
One theory for low water pressure that residents suggested was that perhaps Delray Beach reduces water pressure coming out of the plant early in the morning. Delray officials say that’s not the case.
Instead they think increased usage caused by early-morning irrigation could be the culprit.
In a written response to questions from The Coastal Star, the city pointed out that water use at one of the two interconnects has risen dramatically.
“Water usage for the Town of Gulf Stream has increased significantly, doubling or tripling at times, when comparing the months of January through April 2021 to the same period in 2020,” the city wrote.
Delray Beach said it is working closely with Gulf Stream to look at irrigation schedules and to determine if the increase in demand has put a strain on the town’s water mains and thus reduced pressure.
One suggestion from Delray Beach is to consider implementing an alternating schedule based on odd or even addresses, but Dunham says Gulf Stream already has those restrictions in place.
The increase in water usage, he says, could be the result of a recent upgrade in which the town increased its water mains from 6 inches to 12 inches, thus requiring more water in the system.
Although the town has not ruled out irrigation as a cause of low water pressure, Dunham says that the two golf courses in town — high-volume users — do not use potable water for irrigation.
For its part, Gulfstream Shores runs its irrigation system between midnight and 2 a.m., prior to the arrival of the low pressure.
The possibility that leaks in the Gulf Stream system are causing the problem is also something town officials are skeptical about.
“There’s no way a leak would cause problems only four hours a day,” Beltran said.
Dunham says the town worked with Gulfstream Shores in the past to help with water pressure issues that were not quite as severe.
In the past, the town replaced one service line off the main going into two lines at Gulfstream Shores with two lines directly off the mains.
That helped residents like the Gammons until late March, when the pressure fell again.
Baumgarten says that most of the residents of the small condo units — valued at between $400,000 and $500,000 — have gone north for the summer but that a sense of urgency still exists to get the problem fixed.
“We want to get it remedied before people come back in October and November,” he said.

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By Steve Plunkett

A couple of dozen Comcast customers are holding up completion of Gulf Stream’s tortured project to bury overhead utility lines.
Town commissioners were stunned to learn on May 14 that the cable TV/internet provider needed more time to pull down its overhead lines.
“Another three months and we should pretty much have this wrapped up,” Comcast representative Steve Rosa told them.
Mayor Scott Morgan was clearly frustrated, noting that Rosa said five or six months ago that his crew was almost done.
“AT&T, which was far behind Comcast, has totally completed their work and removed their lines,” he said. “Comcast has been dragging its feet ever since you told us you were about ready to finish.”
The agreed-upon schedule called for Rosa’s workers to disconnect customers who had not set up new underground accounts by March 31. Instead, Rosa said, Comcast had continued efforts to get them to switch from their old overhead-line accounts.
Also, unexpected problems occurred.
“I found a fiber optic that goes to the police station that nobody has a record of,” Rosa said.
Commissioners told Town Manager Greg Dunham to insist that Comcast disconnect the lines from the homes of the laggards and finish removing its lines as soon as possible.
Dunham said he also has to coordinate with Florida Power & Light Co. to take down the telephone poles once Comcast is done.
As recently as mid-March, Morgan said he was “hopeful that sometime in May — or June at the latest” the overhead wires and poles would be gone. Residents originally thought the utility lines would be buried and the poles removed in 2012.
In other business, Dunham said he would revive a “tree farm” behind Town Hall to nurture Australian pine seedlings. Once the seedlings are at least 3 years old they could replace any of Gulf Stream’s treasured Australian pines that become diseased or damaged, he said.

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9026406693?profile=RESIZE_710xA group on the shore of Lake Worth around 1905. Front, Sarah Hazelwood, Lizzie Gardner, Mabel Tedder and Myrtle Miller. Back, Elizabeth Hazelwood, Arthur L. and Thomas Hazelwood, owner of Hazelwood & Co. store.

All photos courtesy of the Boynton Beach City Library Local History Archives

 

9026408860?profile=RESIZE_710xThe Pierce home on Hypoluxo Island, circa 1889. From left, Margretta M. Pierce, Hannibal Pierce, A.W. Garnett, Ed Hamilton, Lillie Pierce and Charles W. Pierce. Hannibal Pierce was the island’s first white settler.

 

9026423677?profile=RESIZE_710xMen work on the first bridge to connect Hypoluxo with Lantana, circa 1925. The bridge spanned Lake Worth.

 

9026430695?profile=RESIZE_710xMary Gilette Chaffin (1857-1925) reads a newspaper around 1920. She died before the 1928 hurricane damaged the area’s homes.

 

9026434261?profile=RESIZE_710xStudents with their teacher, Mabel Wiley, at the Lantana-Hypoluxo School in 1926. Not all the names of students in the photo are included in the archives. But they include, standing, Ruby Sleeper, Hattie Owens, Frances Wickline, Walter Voss, Agnes Neu, a Hathaway child, Melvin Hathaway, Vivian Kitlinger, Harold George, Lewis Ronk, Roscoe Williams and Wayne Smith. Kneeling and seated group includes Lester Geyer, Virginia Frye, Agnes Cafferty, Billy Jenkins, Olin Todd, Bernie McCorkle, Georgia Richner, Marjory Ronk, Thomas George and Tommy Lyman. Two years later the 1928 hurricane destroyed the building.

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Lantana Centennial Celebration

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Lantana Centennial Celebration

When: 3:00--9:35 p.m. July 4

Where: Bicentennial Park, 321 E. Ocean Ave.


Schedule

  • Food and craft vendors (3-9:05 p.m.)
  • Stilt walkers in July Fourth costume (3:30-7:30 p.m.)
  • Sportsman’s Park carnival activities and bungee trampoline (4-8 p.m.)
  • Unveiling of public art, a 16-foot sailboat sculpture (4:45-5 p.m.)
  • Professional band (5-8 p.m.)
  • Water balloon, hula hoop and watermelon-eating contests (7-7:45 p.m.)
  • Special presentation to former Mayor Dave Stewart, followed by most patriotic baby contest conducted by Mayor Robert Hagerty (8-8:15 p.m.)
  • Professional band (8:15-9 p.m.)
  • Massing of the Colors presentation, Pledge of Allegiance and national anthem sung by the band (9-9:05 p.m.)
  • Fireworks show (9:05-9:35 p.m.)

Fireworks display details

  • Opening — 430 shells; main body — 770 shells; finale — 2,523 shells; total shell count — 3,723
  • Total of 6-inch shells (largest shells) planned in display — 196
  • The location of the barge will remain the same as in previous years.
  • Spectator parking available at the Kmart lot, with shuttle to South Oak Street and to East Ocean Avenue at Lantana Beach.

9026396272?profile=RESIZE_180x180Commemorative book To commemorate Lantana’s centennial, the town contracted with StarGroup International of West Palm Beach to create 5,000 copies of “Lantana, A Small Fishing Village, 1921-2021,” a 143-page hardcover book filled with color photographs, history and memories.
Lantana residents can pick up a free copy at Town Hall, 500 Greynolds Circle, or at the July 4 centennial celebration. Books can be purchased for $20.21 each by nonresidents or residents wishing extra copies.

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9026300481?profile=RESIZE_710xAnglers at the Keese boathouse, in Lantana’s south cove, display sharks they caught around 1940. Photo provided by Local History Archives

 

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By Ron Hayes

On July 20, 1921, the town of Lantana was officially born.
The community covered 1 square mile at the time and was home to 100 residents, 22 of whom voted to incorporate.
Today, the town has burgeoned to 2 square miles, and this Fourth of July, many of its 11,695 residents will gather in Bicentennial Park to celebrate the first 100 years.
Allegiance to the flag will be pledged, the national anthem sung. There will be stilt walkers and fishing lessons, a professional band and a patriotic baby contest, ending with the longest, loudest, brightest fireworks display the town has ever seen.
Happy 100th birthday, Lantana.
That’s the official history, anyway.
But as with so many official histories, the truth is an older, murkier, even better story.

***

“We had a good 50 years prior to 1921 in which pioneers worked to build it,” Michelle Donahue says of the town.
Donahue is a passionate apostle for the history of Hypoluxo Island, the eastern portion of Lantana. She and her husband, Sean, live in Casa Lillias, the island’s oldest house, built in 1927. She writes the Brown Wrapper, a local history newsletter. She hosts the island’s free Happy Hour History Tours every month.
On May 7, as about 20 residents on folding chairs in McKinley Park listened, Donahue introduced them to the first settler of European descent in what is now Palm Beach County — and Lantana.
“Our beginning was really in 1873,” she began.
On Oct. 20, 1872, Hannibal Dillingham Pierce was 37, a Maine transplant working as an assistant lighthouse keeper when the steamship Victor shipwrecked just south of Jupiter Inlet.
The crew and passengers were rescued, and the next year Pierce converted one of the Victor’s abandoned lifeboats into a small sailboat and headed down Lake Worth with his family, to settle on a small island at the south end.
He built a cottage with a thatched roof, raised tomatoes and eggplants for shipping to Jacksonville, and homesteaded on the island.
When Seminole Indians told him hypoluxo meant “water all around, no get out,” he knew what to name his homestead.
You might call Hannibal Pierce Lantana’s founding father.
But then came E.R. Bradley.
No, not that E.R. Bradley.


***

“I live on ‘old man’ Bradley’s property,” Janet DeVries Naughton will tell you with pride.
A professor of U.S. history and faculty librarian at Palm Beach State College, Naughton is the author of numerous books on the county’s history. She lives in The Moorings, a condo community that sits on land homesteaded by E.R. Bradley.
You’re probably thinking of Edward Riley Bradley (1859-1946), who ran the legendary Palm Beach gambling casino and lives on in spirits at E.R. Bradley’s Saloon, the popular West Palm Beach bar.
Edwin Ruthven Bradley (1842-1915) arrived in 1877 to become, with his wife and children, the first documented white settler on the west side of the lake in what is now Lantana.
Mail delivery was patchy then, and the Jupiter Lighthouse the end of the line, but in 1885 rural mail routes were established and Lantana’s E.R. Bradley was the first to walk the stretch from Lantana to Lemon City, known today as Miami. He was paid $600 a year.
Alas, the original “barefoot mailman” probably never heard the title, coined by Theodore Pratt for his 1943 novel.

***


9026354871?profile=RESIZE_710xThe original 126 acres might have become known as Lyman, had owner Morris Benson Lyman not named the fledgling area Lantana.

9026373466?profile=RESIZE_180x180“I would love to have been there in that time and have met him,” Cindy Jamison says. “I’m proud that my family had a part in settling the area.”
She is Cindy Lyman Jamison of Boynton Beach, daughter of Kenny Lyman, granddaughter of Walter Lyman, and great-granddaughter of M.B. Lyman.
Lantana is called Lantana because Morris Benson Lyman (1860-1924), a carpenter from Canada, homesteaded 126 acres where the west end of the Lantana bridge stands today.
Lyman Point, it was called, until M.B. renamed it Lantana Point, after the bright yellow, red and orange flowers native to South Florida.
In 1889, he built a house on the property, still standing and very much alive as the Old Key Lime House seafood restaurant.
You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s the oldest house in mainland Lantana, but that honor belongs to the home his father, Morris Kennedy Lyman, built two years earlier. It’s still standing, much altered, at 122 S. Lake Drive.

“Later, M.B. Lyman opened general stores in Lantana, Boynton Beach and Lemon City,” Naughton says. “You could say he had the first chain store in Florida.”
When the town celebrates its centennial in Bicentennial Park, today’s residents will be partying on M.B. Lyman’s former homestead.

***

By the time the man who named Lantana died in 1924, the town was already incorporated, and Florida was booming.
“People came initially because this was America’s last frontier,” Janet Naughton says. “It was unexplored, and then when the real estate boom came, people just poured into South Florida.”
In 1925, the first bridge linking the town to the barrier island was built. Beachgoers no longer had to take a boat and then trudge through mangrove swamp for a day at the beach.
In 1931, 40 acres on the south end of Hypoluxo Island seceded from the town to become part of Manalapan.
During that decade, Finnish immigrants arrived in Palm Beach County.
The 2000 census tallied 4,879 in Palm Beach County, but that was a 10% drop from the 1990 count.
“Today, I’d estimate we have about 1,000 Finns in Lantana alone,” says Peter Makila, the honorary consul of Finland. “The older ones are dying, and the younger ones may not be coming because it’s difficult to get a visa. A lot of the young professionals are going to Silicon Valley.”
In 1948, construction began on Finlandia House, the local Finns’ still very active community center.
On July 16, 1950, the Southeast Florida State Sanatorium opened on Lantana Road, the second of four state tuberculosis hospitals. After the state tuberculosis board was dissolved in 1969, it was renamed the A.G. Holley State Hospital after the retiring chairman.
The hospital was closed in 2012, and the building demolished in 2014, to make way for more condos and a shopping center.

***

“I was in charge of Christmas,” Malcolm Balfour boasts, “until I had the usual firing.”
From 1972 until his death in 1988, Generoso Paul Pope Jr., publisher of The National Enquirer, added a touch of holiday magic to the tabloid’s customary scandal and sleaze by erecting “the world’s tallest Christmas tree” beside Lantana’s railroad tracks.
Thousands came from miles around to ogle the 7,000 twinkling lights, 400 ornaments, and 50 3-foot candy canes adorning the towering balsam fir. From 1972 until he was fired in 1980, Hypoluxo Island resident Balfour, 83, was the Enquirer’s articles editor, a job that also entailed making sure the world’s tallest Christmas tree was indeed the world’s tallest Christmas tree.
“Well, Pope came down one day during the first year, and he had a picture in The New York Times that said the tree at Rockefeller Center was 76 feet tall. Ours was 74,” Balfour recalls.
“So I pointed out that the Rockefeller tree was on a 6-foot pedestal.
“He seemed satisfied.”

***


In the past 100 years, Lantana has seen 26 mayors come and go, including three women, but none lasted as long as Dave Stewart.
First elected in 2000, he served the town for 21 years, until his defeat in the March 2021 election.
“But I was president of the Hypoluxo Island Neighborhood Association in the late ’80s and chairman of the planning and zoning board for six or seven years,” he says, “so I can say I’ve been active in this town for a third of its history.”
Stewart arrived in 1977, settled on the north end of the island, and never left.
But he tried: In 1989, when their son was born, the Stewarts realized they were living in a neighborhood with lots of elderly residents but no small children.
“We looked from Boca Raton to Sewall’s Point and found nothing with the same amenities and hometown feeling. That’s why we stayed,” Stewart says.
“It’s more busy now, it’s more congested, but it’s also gotten better. The first 100 years are over, and now we’ve got the next 100 to look forward to.”

***


In 1892, Morris Benson Lyman, who had given Lantana its name, also gave it a cemetery — 2 acres at the southeast corner of Arnold Avenue and Lantana Road.
A year later, his 9-month-old daughter, Rachael, was among the first to be buried in Evergreen Cemetery.
In 1909, his father, Morris Kennedy Lyman, arrived, and in 1924, he joined them there.
In all, 18 marked grave sites remember the town’s eight pioneer families.
But not Edwin Ruthven Bradley or Hannibal Dillingham Pierce.
Bradley moved south after his time in Lantana and was buried in Miami’s Woodlawn Cemetery in 1915.
Pierce, the first white settler on Hypoluxo Island, died in 1898 and was buried in Lakeside Cemetery on the waterfront in West Palm Beach.
After Henry M. Flagler donated land to the west that became Woodlawn Cemetery, most of the early, lakeside graves were moved there.
But not all.
Along with about 40 other reluctant pioneers, Hannibal Pierce still rests today somewhere beneath the Norton Museum of Art.

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Every month from November 2008 through most of the coronavirus pandemic, our readers have been treated to free delivery of The Coastal Star. Our high-quality local news coverage is paid for almost entirely by advertising income from businesses in our community.
Please be grateful to them for their support of community journalism.
Last summer the economic slowdown related to the global pandemic slammed the nation. In addition to killing more than 575,000 Americans, it forced the closure of many small businesses and sent millions into unemployment lines.
That economic downturn has turned into a 34% drop in advertising income for this newspaper. Last summer we made the painful decision to skip the June, August and October editions just to make sure we could keep publishing.
This summer the lingering effects of the pandemic slowdown mean we will skip the July and September editions.
Why?
Just as many of you have focused this past year on your household budgets, many of our advertisers have done the same and continue to pause their advertising, or to cut back on overall spending.
Our most loyal partners have stayed in the paper and continue to reach our community. We hope you will continue to give them your support.
Arts-related advertising took an especially deep dive after the pandemic forced the closure of most entertainment venues. And now we’re into the summer months when most wind down their live performances to prepare for the season ahead.
The good news is that most arts venues are telling us they will return full force in the fall with exciting programming scheduled for the 2021-2022 season. So, I am happy to say we plan to resume our every-month schedule in October. Look for our ArtsPaper Season Preview to return in that edition.
Even as our print newspaper skips a couple of months of publication this summer, we will continue to keep an eye on our communities at town meetings, in our neighborhoods and along the coast. We’ll post “need-to-know” news on our website, www.thecoastalstar.com, and site members will receive alerts when breaking news events warrant. The site is free to join.
We plan to keep our online community calendar continuously updated.
Just the basic printing and delivery of The Coastal Star cost us almost $20,000 each month. If you would like to contribute to help cover this expense and assure the continuation of this community news publication, you can donate to our nonprofit journalism fund, a 501(c)(3), at https://fpf.column.us/the-coastal-star.
Have a great summer!

Jerry Lower
Publisher

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9026267266?profile=RESIZE_710xPeg Anderson says the Fuller Center, which serves kids from economically challenged homes, is ‘my happy place. When I go there it fills me with joy.’ Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

By Sallie James

Longtime Boca Raton resident Peg Anderson loves peeking into the classrooms at the Florence Fuller Child Development Centers and seeing the teachers and children interact. She’s thankful the scene will continue in months to come as the agency prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Anderson is co-chairing this year’s Wee Dream Ball — the nonprofit’s largest fundraiser — while helping to celebrate its golden anniversary. The Dec. 3 event at the Boca West Country Club will recognize all the Fuller Center, as it’s informally known, has survived, accomplished and plans to do. Simone Spiegel, the center’s board president and chairwoman, is also a co-chair of the Wee Dream Ball.
“It’s my happy place. When I go there it fills me with joy,” said Anderson, a board member for 10 years and currently a vice president. “It is just magic that happens. It is so touching to know these little kids there are having this wonderful experience. When they get finished with our program they are going to go toe-to-toe with every other kid.”
The pandemic made it especially challenging this year to keep the doors open, but extra help from donors made it happen, Anderson said.
People who know Anderson say her devotion to children and her dedication to the agency made her an obvious choice to co-chair the ball.
“Peg is a dedicated board member who is committed and passionate about the children served by Fuller Center,” said Ellyn Okrent, chief executive officer for the nonprofit. “She wholeheartedly believes in making an early investment in children and preparing them for lifelong success.”
Anderson’s enthusiasm for helping out seems endless. She recently took the lead in guiding the organization through an ambitious strategic planning process and rebranding. She is also the chair of the Fuller Center Foundation, the entity created to ensure the long-term stability of the center.
Her dedication does not go unnoticed.
“She is one of those people who is really involved for the right reasons,” said Mary Coleman, director of advancement for the agency.
Anderson, who did not wish to share her age, is a former Midwesterner who spent her youth as a flight attendant with United Airlines. She later attended Le Cordon Bleu School in New York and opened a French restaurant on the east side of Manhattan.
She subsequently served as director of non-patient dining services at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital; was director of employee dining services at Chemical Bank World Headquarters; and was vice president and general manager of the Rockefeller Center for eight years.
Anderson and her husband moved to Boca Raton in 1995 and Mizner Village in 2004. She’s been involved in a range of organizations ever since.
Currently she is a board member at the Boca Raton Museum of Art and president of the Cultural Arts Center in Mizner Park.
“I am a community-minded citizen,” Anderson said.
She got involved with the Fuller Center in 2006 after someone urged her to attend the Wee Dream Ball. Anderson was invited for a visit and the rest is history.
“They said you have to come for a tour and that is kind of like when I really fell in love,” Anderson said. “It is the most compelling kind of an experience.”
The children’s parents “are the essential workers in the service industries, restaurants, groceries and hospitals. It is a whole kind of holistic community where we are relying on each other for support.”
She said the Wee Dream Ball will be a gala event. “It’s really all about fundraising but we do it in a kind of gift-from-the-heart kind of way. We make it very festive — it is going to be very elegant, this 50th-anniversary celebration,” Anderson said.
The Fuller Center serves children ages 6 months to 12 years from economically challenged households. Programs range from infant care to early childhood education to summer camp. The agency operates two campuses in Boca Raton.
“There is just something really wonderful, the karma, you feel the love,” Anderson said.

Nomintate someone to be a Coastal Star. Send a note to news@thecoastalstar.com or call 561-337-1553.

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In the first four months of 2021, deaths reached 723; in all of 2020, 637 died in the state. There’s not enough sea grass to support all of them

We love manatees in Florida.
We put them on license plates. We name our school mascots after them. We brag about the beloved sea cows to out-of-state friends.
But Florida’s decision-makers aren’t showing the love, putting economic interest over the preservation of manatee habitats. They have allowed urban development to spread without enough safeguards, defunded environmental agencies and imposed water-quality standards that are friendly to polluters. And even when those standards are stringent enough, Florida has failed to enforce them.
“Now the bills are coming due,” Patrick Rose, executive director of the Save the Manatee Club, told the Miami Herald’s Editorial Board.
We’re paying a high price. 
Manatee deaths in 2021 have reached such an alarming number in Florida that the federal government declared it an “unusual mortality event.” In the first four months of the year, manatee deaths reached 723, surpassing the 637 deaths reported in all of 2020 and the 607 reported in 2019, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 
The cause of death in most cases is unknown because necropsies were done on only one-quarter of them, Rose said. But the available data shows that many died from a combination of cold winter temperatures and starvation.
Freshwater springs were historically a warm-water refuge for manatees during the winter, but most have either been blocked by dams, altered by construction or are subject to declining water levels because of groundwater pumping for human or agricultural use. That has caused manatees to migrate to power plants along Florida’s east coast for warm water during cold months.

Shrinking habitat
There is not enough sea grass to feed them in those spots because of the toxic algae blooms that have plagued our rivers, bays and lakes. Nutrients found in fertilizer, septic tanks, sewage spills and urban runoff are feeding those blooms.
Florida’s environmental disasters have been decades in the making, and it took several governors and legislatures to get us to where we are. But never was there as much disregard for natural resources as during former Gov. Rick Scott’s tenure from 2011 to 2019, Rose said.
“Those eight years were terrible years for Florida,” he told the Herald board. 
Scott made it easier for businesses to obtain environmental permits at the expense of water quality; he pushed out experienced scientists from the Department of Environmental Protection and, to add insult to injury, forbade them from using the term “climate change” in official communications. 
He dismantled the Department of Community Affairs, which oversaw urban development — and he got help from the Legislature’s chipping away at growth-management laws. Scott also imposed drastic budget cuts on water management districts, which oversee many restoration projects. Many of these cuts were necessary during the Great Recession, but the state didn’t recover from them even as the economy rebounded.
Scott, now a U.S. senator, isn’t the only culprit. Lawmakers have done their share by siding with powerful industries such as agriculture, which has fought stricter water quality standards and enforcement.

DeSantis raises hopes
Environmentalists are more optimistic about Gov. Ron DeSantis. He appointed a chief science officer and created an algae-bloom task force, but it can only make recommendations. The DEP, which answers to the governor, has resisted calls to create water quality criteria for the bacteria that’s in algal blooms. That’s an irresponsible failure that DEP should correct.
Let’s not forget the role of cities, counties and utilities.
Broward County has the second-largest number of manatee deaths — 56 — which is three times more than last year. Broward is home to a Florida Power & Light power plant and has seen several sewage spills in recent years. Boating also played a role in manatee deaths there.
More than half of all manatee deaths in the first four months of 2021 occurred in the Indian River Lagoon, the 156-mile estuary that stretches along the Treasure and Space coasts. The lagoon’s northern portion, which accounts for nearly 300 deaths, has lost 60% to 90% of sea grass thanks to urban pollution and leaky septic tanks, Rose said. The lagoon’s southern tip in Stuart gets hit every year by Lake Okeechobee discharges, which carry agricultural pollution that’s behind putrid, guacamole-thick algal blooms.
Similar issues are plaguing Biscayne Bay, which had a fish-kill last year, but Miami-Dade hasn’t been a spot where manatees normally congregate in the winter. The county had 18 manatee deaths through April this year. 
Rose said manatee deaths could reach 1,000 by the end of the year. The alarming loss of Florida’s most beloved mammal should serve as a warning that the state needs to do better by its natural resources.

— Miami Herald Editorial Board

The board is a group of opinion journalists who operate separately from the Miami Herald newsroom.
“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.

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By Jane Smith

Delray Beach city commissioners voted unanimously June 1 to keep the same structure of the city Community Redevelopment Agency board.
That means the commissioners will continue to sit on the CRA board and the two independent community members will remain.
The commission chambers were packed for discussion of that issue, which was moved from the last agenda item to the first to accommodate the crowd.
“I pulled my support for this item,” said Commissioner Ryan Boylston, who wanted to remove the independent members two weeks earlier.
He also attacked CRA board member Angie Gray from the dais about her personal Facebook posting, which talked about removing her and Kelcey Brooks, another Black voice, from the board.
Boylston said the statement wasn’t fair. Gray, though, could not respond to him at that time because of commission rules.
Nine of the 10 people who talked during public comment spoke about the CRA board structure.
Yvonne Odom was the lone supporter of removing the two independent members.
“This is not racism. It’s political patronage,” said Odom, a retired teacher who also runs youth athletic teams in the Black community.
Three pastors and a mother, an elderly woman who belongs to a church, spoke at the meeting. Their message: “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.”
One pastor, the Rev. Howard B. Barr Jr. of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, thanked the CRA board for making “West Atlantic neighborhoods part of the progress of Delray Beach.”
Gray and Brooks live in the West Atlantic neighborhoods. Pam Brinson, former CRA board member, said, “It’s not about race but about doing what’s right and wrong” when she spoke in support of the current composition of the CRA board.
During Gray’s remarks at the public comment section June 1, she said, “For 41 years, we made the promise to the Northwest and Southwest and Osceola neighborhoods, your time is coming. And now we are adding sidewalks, alleys and streetlights. There’s more to do.”
Mayor Shelly Petrolia thanked the public for the positive messages. “It’s not about racism but where the money goes.”
For the previous two weeks, the CRA board makeup was a hot topic on Facebook.
“It is all about the money,” Gray, a former city commissioner, wrote on her personal Facebook page on May 24.
“We have moved 80% of the CRA dollars back to where it is supposed to be and doing what we are supposed to be doing. … And now they want to stop that by removing the two Blacks, Angie Gray and Kelcey Brooks, from the CRA board that have been getting things done,” the post read.
The CRA has more than $26 million in tax dollars to spend on eliminating blight this financial year in an area that includes Atlantic Avenue east of the interstate. About 20% of the city lies within the CRA district. When budget carryovers are included, the agency has about $45.7 million available.
Boylston, re-elected in March, had campaigned on making the CRA board totally independent again. He asked the city attorney to investigate the issue.
That is not possible legally, City Attorney Lynn Gelin said at the May 18 commission meeting. Of the 222 CRA districts in Florida, 153, nearly 70%, are run by city commissions only.
One of the assistant city attorneys found a Florida Attorney General 2019 opinion that said the City Commission cannot transfer its authority to an independent board after it has designated itself as the CRA.
After learning of the legal constraints, Boylston had a change of heart and the consensus was 3-2 at the May 18 meeting to bring up the CRA board composition for a vote, with Juli Casale and Petrolia against moving forward.
“There would be considerable repercussions for all of us if we remove the two independent board members,” Casale said May 18. “We need input from residents who live there.”
Petrolia said most of the things the CRA does benefit the community. “I like the fact that two community members are on the board. That gives us a true connection with them on the board,” she said May 18. “We will lose that.”
The City Commission installed itself as the CRA board in April 2018. Two months later two community members were added to the board.
At the time, Commissioner Shirley Johnson was frustrated at the slow pace of development in the West Atlantic neighborhoods, while properties east of Swinton Avenue were thriving.
Johnson then nominated her campaign consultant and former commissioner, Gray, for a four-year term on the CRA board. Gray also had served on the CRA board before her election as a city commissioner.
Commissioner Boylston was the lone no vote against her appointment in 2018.
Commissioner Adam Frankel then offered Brinson to serve a two-year term. Brinson had run against Gray in 2014 when she lost her re-election bid to Jordana Jarjura.
Brinson was appointed by a 3-2 vote with former Commissioner Bill Bathurst and Boylston voting no.
Last year, the commission gave Seat 1, Frankel’s spot, the option to fill a CRA board member seat. Frankel picked Brooks to serve a two-year term.
This year, Gray backed Petrolia in her re-election to the mayor’s seat.

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By Jane Smith

Delray Beach will have two fireworks displays to mark Independence Day, city commissioners agreed in early May.
“Wherever you are in town, you will be able to look up and see fireworks at 9 p.m.,” Sam Metott, Parks and Recreation director, said about the July Fourth plan.
The fireworks will be set off from two undisclosed locations. One will be west of the interstate, one east.
“That’s how it should be,” said Mayor Shelly Petrolia. “People in their backyards can see the fireworks show. Some may figure out the locations, but most probably won’t.”
Delray Beach last celebrated Independence Day with fireworks in 2019.
When East Atlantic Avenue was closed at the Intracoastal Waterway and State Road A1A that year, about 80,000 people came to enjoy the evening festival, Metott said. The event started with a community flag-raising at 5 p.m.
The city offered live music, games, food and fireworks that were shot off from a barge in the ocean.
Last year, no outdoor gatherings were permitted in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
This year, the city will not have any bands or a July Fourth festival because of pandemic restrictions. At the time the decision was made, wearing masks and social distancing were required outdoors in crowded conditions.
Because the Fourth falls on a Sunday this year, Metott said parks staff will offer arts, crafts and games Saturday morning in Pompey Park. “We don’t want to offer them on Sunday morning and conflict with church services,” he said.
At the beach this year on Sunday morning, the city will host its volleyball contest, followed by a sandcastle-building contest.

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By Jane Smith

Before the next sea turtle nesting season, the busy beachside intersection of State Road A1A and Atlantic Avenue will be lit with amber LED lights that can stay on throughout the year, even during the turtles’ eight-month nesting season.
The rest of Delray Beach will switch to white LED lights as a sustainability measure — the equivalent of taking 172 cars off the road — Missie Barletto, Public Works director, said at the May 18 Delray Beach City Commission meeting. The lights will be brighter than those on Christmas trees and likely will improve public safety, she said.
The five commissioners gave their consensus to proceed.
The A1A change has been about three years in the making.
The city had its amber lights on Florida Power & Light poles for years. But the utility decided in 2018 that it would no longer allow customer-owned fixtures on its poles between George Bush Boulevard and Casuarina Road.
That’s when the city scrambled between the safety of nesting sea turtles balanced against the concerns of residents and visitors near the bustling intersection.
The Beach Property Owners Association had asked FPL to work with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to approve amber LED lights to quell concerns about darkness on the 1.1-mile municipal beach. In addition to meeting the FWC standards to protect nesting sea turtles March 1 through Oct. 31, FPL has its own technical and reliability standards.
Instead of choosing red LED lights that could stay on during the turtle-nesting season, the city opted for white LED lights that would go dark for eight months. It will take another five months until the amber LED lights are installed.
“Thank you to the city, FPL and FWC for making our streets more safe for residents and traffic,” said Bob Victorin, BPOA president, “while preserving the safety of nesting sea turtles.”
The city will pay about $7,300 to switch out the lights on 34 poles along A1A.
For the rest of the city, FPL will change the 3,800 sodium halogen lights to white LED lights at no cost to the city.
“Some streetlights are not working in the Northwest and Southwest neighborhoods,” said Vice Mayor Shirley Johnson, “so it will be bright” after the white LED lights are installed.

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By Rich Pollack

As Highland Beach leaders methodically move toward starting a town-operated fire department, they know that some skeptics believe they might be in over their heads.
Their message back: Don’t underestimate us.
“I think people will be surprised by where Highland Beach is now compared to where we were before,” says Town Manager Marshall Labadie.
In the past 21/2 years, he says, Highland Beach has shed any remnants of its reputation as a sleepy small town with simple solutions to simple problems.
9026209275?profile=RESIZE_180x180Labadie, who almost three years ago came to Highland Beach from Michigan with an extensive knowledge of municipal management, has overseen the growth of the town’s governmental operation, which includes 48 full-time and several part-time employees.
Since his arrival, the town has brought its building department in-house, has added a full-time planner and has upgraded its finance department.
As it breaks away from receiving fire and rescue service from Delray Beach, which will come within three years, Highland Beach has a Town Commission and management team that is already overseeing an 18-person police department, a 10-person water treatment plant, a full-service library and a small contract post office.
That’s in addition to a town clerk’s office, a public works department and the building and finance departments.
The town also has a strong financial position, with a fairly low tax rate and about $6.1 million — or about 52% of the annual budget — in unrestricted reserves.
“We’re in the process of becoming a full-service community with growing expectations from our residents,” Labadie said.
Labadie and Mayor Doug Hillman say those factors — and the town’s ownership of a fire station, a truck and a rescue vehicle — put Highland Beach in better position than most towns to start its own fire-rescue department.
“We continue to find ourselves showing we are unique in this county,” Labadie said.
The town estimates that transitioning to its own fire department will include implementation costs of $8 million to $10 million but says that it will save about $2 million a year in operational costs.
Hillman and Labadie don’t underestimate the challenges of starting a fire-rescue department — something that hasn’t happened in Palm Beach County for at least three decades.
Still, they say that providing many services that most other small towns contract out gives Highland Beach an edge as well as additional independence.
“The addition of a fire-rescue department, although more complex, will be yet another addition to our self-governance,” Hillman said.
The ability to control the operations of a fire department was one of the factors involved in the town’s decision to break away from Delray Beach. Cost savings and improved efficiency, Hillman says, were always the driving factors.
Under the current contract, Highland Beach covers the cost of 22.5 personnel assigned to the fire station in town but has no say in how much Delray Beach pays its firefighters.
Each year, Delray Beach gives Highland Beach a bill for the fire service it provides, with Highland Beach having little or no input in how much that bill will be or how the firefighters in the station will operate on a day-to-day basis.
“We’re in a life-safety relationship and we don’t have the ability to manage the system more efficiently to meet our residents’ service needs and demands,” Labadie said.
Resident John Ross, a former Town Commission candidate and the author of a blog that comments on the town’s operations, says that Highland Beach’s lack of a seat at the table with Delray affects the overall town operations.
“The amount of money Highland Beach pays to Delray is entirely up to Delray, and that impacts what Highland Beach can spend on other things,” Ross said. “The choice of where to spend the money is the definition of sovereignty.”
In previous comments, Delray Beach Mayor Shelly Petrolia said that Highland Beach is a customer of her city and is treated like a customer of a business.
“You don’t get to come to the board of directors and tell them how to run the company,” she said.
Ross and others counter that customers of private companies can do business elsewhere. For Highland Beach commissioners the choices were limited, especially after they discovered contracting with another government agency wasn’t feasible.
Recognizing there may be some truth in comments from skeptics who say Highland Beach leaders “don’t know what they don’t know,” the town has set out to hire experts to help with the transition.
During a meeting last month, Labadie detailed a time line of steps to be taken as the town moves forward.
He said the town has already moved ahead with hiring a medical director, a forensic accountant and possibly a marketing and public relations firm to help craft a branding and messaging plan.
Commissioners agreed that public education is one of the highest priorities, along with hiring a local fire consultant and a fire chief.
The education component is critical, Hillman said, since the town will be going to voters in November to get funding authorization because the project exceeds the town’s $350,000 spending cap.
Labadie said that as the town continues to move forward it will keep its focus on the needs of the residents.
“Public safety is at the forefront of every decision we make,” he said.

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By Dan Moffett

The hard feelings and divisions that grew out of the March election are festering within the Ocean Ridge Town Commission.
During a contentious and sometimes angry three-hour meeting on May 3, the commission fought over filling a seat on the town’s Board of Adjustment — in other times, an obscure panel most residents don’t know exists.
The issue arose from a last-minute withdrawal by Polly Joa for a regular position on the board. Her withdrawal came shortly after Cassidy delivered a letter of application for a board seat to town hall. The deadline was 3 p.m. on April 21.
9026206883?profile=RESIZE_180x180Ultimately Cassidy and Robert Sloat were appointed unanimously to the five-member panel, which is charged with resolving code disputes between the town and residents.
But in discussions beforehand some commissioners saw political meddling. Cassidy missed unseating Kristine de Haseth by 16 votes in the election and is an ally of two commissioners, Steve Coz and Geoff Pugh.
“The time line is critical,” said Commissioner Martin Wiescholek, a supporter of de Haseth, the mayor. “That all happened on the very, very last day, within hours of the deadline.”
Wiescholek said it had the look of “backroom dealing.” Vice-Mayor Susan Hulburt proposed taking the seldom-used step of suspending the town’s rules and filling the board seat by promoting an alternate.
Coz and Pugh, both former mayors, vehemently protested against suspending rules and said Cassidy should get the seat.
“I’ve been on the commission for years and I’ve never seen a moment like this,” Coz said, arguing it was ill-advised to circumvent the rules.
Pugh called the idea of overriding procedures and rejecting Cassidy “wrong and wrong-spirited.”
“It’s a very bad precedent you’re setting,” Pugh warned. “That’s something that’s been around for years and you (would be) changing it for something that’s not forthright.”
He said suspending the rules would leave the “perception of underhanded dealing” and create “division and drama” that the commissioners have said they are trying to eliminate.
Hurlburt said she thought the board’s alternates should be considered for the regular seat because of the eleventh-hour developments. De Haseth lamented that the rancor of the election had spilled over in to the town’s business.
“I’m a little taken aback by this last-minute resignation,” she said. “It’s very difficult because it’s coming on the tail end of a difficult campaign for all candidates, not just one or two.”
De Haseth said that, despite reservations about the last-minute changes, she would support seating Cassidy, in the hope of quelling the discord.
“This has to stop,” she said. “We have to end the divisiveness and put this in the rear-view mirror.”
De Haseth was the deciding vote in the commission’s 3-2 decision to reject re-advertising the BOA seats. After that, Hurlburt moved to appoint Cassidy and Sloat to the regular seats on the board. Joa moved to an alternate seat.
In other business, by unanimous consensus, the commission decided to direct the Planning and Zoning Commission to look into code changes the town made last year concerning building along the Coastal Construction Control Line.
Coz said recent ordinances the commission passed have created hardships for some homeowners, especially those building decks or walkways.
“These homeowners are being unnecessarily penalized,” Coz said. “One homeowner was told by the previous town attorney to wait for the unity of title ordinance before commencing work and then was told since the resident had waited, the CCCL ordinance would now cause the deck to require going through the variance process.”
The commission hopes to receive guidance from the P&Z board on amending the ordinances by the next regular town meeting on June 7.

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By Dan Moffett

Manalapan has its own version of the building boom that is raging throughout Florida, and it comes with its own rather special complications.
People who are moving to the town are intent on building bigger homes, which necessitates the need for bigger boats to park behind them, which in turn necessitates the need for bigger docks to accommodate the bigger boats.
This is where a problem begins for Manalapan’s Town Commission.
Building permit requests for boat docks are backing up in Town Hall while commissioners and officials wrestle with old code restrictions that new homeowners hope to circumvent.
During their meeting on May 25, commissioners considered the case brought by Charles M. Adams, a tech entrepreneur from Waldorf, Maryland. Adams bought a property on Churchill Way on Point Manalapan four years ago and started building on it two years later.
The town’s code allows Adams to build a 5-foot dock into the Intracoastal cove behind his house. His attorney and engineer told the commission that in order to reach water deep enough to float his boat, the dock would have to go out about 34 feet — about 29 feet beyond the current limit.
Because of protected mangroves along the property, the dock can be located in only one spot.
Adams asked commissioners to give him a variance, an exception from the code restriction. They unanimously rejected the request, with no shortage of reasons why.
Mayor Keith Waters said a variance would be “a special privilege that would set a precedent,” opening the door for more variance requests and disruption of the town’s building rules.
Mayor Pro Tem Stewart Satter said the homeowner should have known about the cove’s shallow water when he bought the property and should have known about the 5-foot dock limit.
“The people who bought the lot should have done their due diligence,” Commissioner John Deese said, echoing Satter.
“It’s extremely shallow back there,” said Vice Mayor Simone Bonutti. “I don’t know if you can even get a boat back there.”
Waters said he had received correspondence from about 15 residents in the neighborhood, all of them opposed to allowing the variance. He said a longer dock would obstruct the neighbors’ views of the waterfront.
“We’re not getting one person who says, ‘Yeah, this is a good idea,’” the mayor said.
Manalapan residents figure to hear a lot about dock-building regulations in the months ahead. Waters wants the commission to look at the code to see what changes might be necessary for the town to respond to evolving boating and building trends.
The mayor said the town wants to be as amenable as possible to what homeowners want.
“We’re all neighbors,” Waters told Adams’ representatives.

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By Dan Moffett

Boynton Beach Fire Chief James Stables has been on the job for only five months, but already he’s making a difference in Briny Breezes.
That’s the conclusion of Hal Hutchins, the Ocean Ridge police chief and Briny’s marshal.
“I’ve already started to notice that the response times have been coming down,” Hutchins told the Town Council on May 27. “We’ve seen it.”
Stables, 54, explained his philosophy to the council on getting responders to Briny quickly. He said the idea isn’t to focus so much on driving faster, but rather to emphasize getting fire-rescue and firefighting personnel loaded into their vehicles more rapidly.
“A lot of times people don’t understand about emergency response,” Stables said. “In a small response zone, you can’t add a whole lot of speed and make a meaningful impact. What you can do is get to the apparatus quicker and get out of the station quicker.”
He told the council the goal is to get responders into their fire truck or ambulance 30 seconds quicker because that’s time saved in the response. “It’s a meaningful savings of time,” he said.
Boynton provides fire services for Ocean Ridge, as well as Briny.
Stables has some 35 years’ experience in fire departments. He came to Boynton from Johnson City, Tennessee, where he served as chief for 31/2 years. Before that, he was the chief in Palm Bay and Ormond Beach.
He has a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Barry University and is working on a master’s there.
In other business:
• The council gave unanimous approval to a contract and work order to replace the town’s aging water mains.
Town Manager William Thrasher said the project should cost the town about $301,000, and he hopes that Briny can pay much of the bill with federal money from the pandemic-relief American Rescue Plan. The corporation has committed to contributing $80,000.
The town was able to piggyback onto an existing Boynton Beach contract to avoid seeking bids for the work. Thrasher said the project will take months to complete and is likely to run into next year.
• The council set its first budget workshop for July 22, beginning at 3 p.m. Council members decided to return all meetings to Town Hall, beginning with the regularly scheduled session on June 24. The council has been meeting in the Briny community center since last year because of coronavirus social distancing requirements.

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County has weathered pandemic ‘very well,’ appraiser reports

By Mary Hladky

Undeterred by the coronavirus pandemic, the taxable value of Palm Beach County properties has increased for the 10th year in a row.
Estimates released by the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office on May 28 showed countywide taxable property values increased by 5.05% from 2020 to 2021, less than last year’s 5.9% jump but still a strong showing.
Last year’s numbers did not reflect any impact from the pandemic because they were based on market conditions as of Jan. 1, 2020.
9026187072?profile=RESIZE_584x“We will probably look back at COVID and see it was a health crisis but not an economic crisis, at least for Palm Beach County,” Property Appraiser Dorothy Jacks said. “We actually have weathered the storm very well.”
The taxable values are preliminary and will be revised at the end of June, when they will be submitted to the state Department of Revenue. While the numbers will change as the Property Appraiser’s Office adds more properties to the tax roll and makes final calculations, the estimates give a general idea of how taxable values fared.
Last year, for example, the countywide taxable values were estimated to have increased by 5.5% but jumped to 5.9% after additional number crunching.
With the exception of Palm Beach Shores, taxable values rose in every municipality in the county as of Jan. 1 this year.
Taxable values were estimated to increase by 2.8% in Boca Raton, 4.9% in Boynton Beach and almost 5% in Delray Beach.
The estimates also showed taxable values up 9.5% in Briny Breezes, 2.5% in Gulf Stream, 2.8% in Highland Beach, 8.8% in Lantana, 7.1% in Manalapan, 4.5% in Ocean Ridge and 4% in South Palm Beach.
Countywide, the 5.05% hike translates to a total taxable value increase of $10.5 billion, up to a whopping $220.5 billion, including $3 billion in new construction added to the tax roll.
As of mid-June last year, Jacks expected that the taxable value of commercial properties such as hotels and restaurants would take a hit from the pandemic.
But since 70% of the county’s taxable value comes from residential properties, a solid residential market would offset commercial market losses, she said at the time.
While Jacks cannot yet place a number on how commercial properties will fare this year, the upswing in the residential market at the end of last year has made up for declines elsewhere, she said.
“The fourth-quarter really strong residential market offset the commercial losses to a great extent,” she said.
She anticipated taxable value reductions for hotels and entertainment venues such as movie theaters and bowling alleys, but warehousing remained strong. Restaurants were a mixed bag, with some hard-hit by the pandemic. Yet fast-food restaurants with drive-thru did well, she said.
Local governments use taxable values to calculate how much property tax money they can expect in the coming year so they can set their annual budgets and the 2021-2022 tax rates.
The fact that the pandemic had a modest impact on taxable values is good news for municipal leaders who otherwise would have to make difficult budget-cutting decisions.

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9026134279?profile=RESIZE_710xKristin and Frank Augustine were among several South Palm Beach customers in a matter of minutes to buy drinking water on Memorial Day at the Publix in Plaza del Mar. Right after they did, an employee restocked the supply with 14 cases of bottled water. Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star

By Dan Moffett

South Palm Beach Mayor Bonnie Fischer says the city of West Palm Beach has to do a better job of notifying the town’s water customers when problems arise.
It took West Palm officials about eight days last month to announce that the city’s water had an unacceptably high level of the blue-green algae contaminant cylindrospermopsin and posed a risk to physically vulnerable customers.
“It’s very concerning,” Fischer said. “It was happening long before we knew about it and people had been drinking it for days. That’s the most concerning thing.”
West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James defended the city’s response during a news conference on May 30, saying it took eight days to confirm the problem with testing.
“I’m aware of the concerns expressed that the city should have informed the public sooner,” he said. “We stand by our decision to test to confirm the initial high test results, those supplemental confirmation tests, and we could not tell the public until we received guidance from the Florida Department of Health.”
James said not all utilities test for the toxin and that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t list it among the worst contaminants. He said the advisory applies only to people with health conditions and children. He expected the advisory to not drink the water to last until the first weekend in June.
“This is uncharted territory for not just the city, but also for the state,” said Poonam Kalkat, West Palm Beach Public Utilities director.
Even after West Palm Beach officials disclosed the problem on May 28, South Palm Beach’s residents were left in the dark. Fischer said they didn’t receive text messages or robocalls from the Palm Beach County Health Department, though West Palm Beach residents did.
“It’s disturbing,” she said, “and it’s happened before.”
Over Thanksgiving weekend in 2019, a water main break in the town necessitated a boil-water order from health officials. To notify South Palm Beach residents, Fischer had to print out flyers and take them to each condo building. This time, sheriff’s deputies distributed the flyers.
South Palm Beach and Palm Beach get their water from West Palm, which opened several distribution sites for bottled water but none of them on barrier islands. Customers emptied the shelves of water products at the Publix at Plaza del Mar once they got word of the contamination.
South Palm’s Town Council has been looking for better ways to communicate with residents by phone or internet alerts, and the water problems figure to intensify the effort.

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