By Dan Moffett
When he interviewed for the mayor’s opening in February, Gene Adams told Briny Breezes council members he would bring energy to the job and improve relations with the town’s neighbors.
“Overall, I think I’ll be an active mayor,” he said.
It took Adams only a month to make good on his word.
The new mayor spent his first weeks in office representing Briny at a League of Cities meeting, introducing himself to Ocean Ridge officials and discussing with them common problems such as drainage and sea rise.
“It’s about building relationships and listening,” Adams said.
The council on Feb. 28 unanimously selected Adams to fill the unexpired term of Roger Bennett, who died unexpectedly earlier this year. Council members then reappointed Adams to a full one-year term in March.
At 54, Adams is one of the youngest mayors the town has had. Gerry Devine was 38 when he was appointed to the position in 2013, but he held the office for only five weeks. In 1963, Hugh David, Briny’s first mayor and the town’s founder, was 41 when he took the job and then held it for 34 years.
Adams, whose wife, Christina, has served on the council since 2015, has lived in Briny for five years and served as vice president of its board of directors for two years.
“For me, being mayor comes down to two key areas,” Adams told the council. “Since it’s a non-voting position, you don’t make decisions. But it comes down to leadership and it comes down to representation.”
Adams said he wants to help guide council members through difficult issues the town faces. He said 30 years of working in the corporate world — he currently oversees dozens of employees as a senior director at Target stores — has developed his leadership abilities.
Adams said he has learned about representation through service on several civic boards, and through work with the Broward County Emergency Operations Center and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“I’m used to leading people through tough decisions,” he said.
Keith Black, another Briny board member who led a council committee that wrote the job description for town manager, also applied for the mayor’s position. The council appointed Black to a position on the Planning and Zoning Board.
In other business:
• On March 28, the council voted 4-0 (with Kathy Gross absent) to shut down Briny’s website at least until June to protect the town against lawsuits over compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
During the past two years, hundreds of governments throughout the state have faced suits over aging sites that didn’t accommodate screen reader software for visually impaired people.
Town Manager Dale Sugerman said the town will track residents’ reaction to the shutdown over the next few months, and then council members will decide whether to invest in upgrading the website or eliminate it.
Said Town Attorney Keith Davis: “There’s nothing that requires a local government to have a website.”
• Sugerman said construction has resumed on the Gulf Stream Views townhouse project south of town.
Palm Beach County building officials have approved developers’ permits on a conditional basis after stopping construction earlier this year. Developers still need FEMA to sign off on a flood map for the site. Completion of the six-building, 14-unit project is targeted for early next year.