A boardwalk will replace the former dive shop at the Boynton Beach Marina.
By Jane Smith
Boynton Beach can now move forward with completing its $18 million marina.
County commissioners agreed unanimously May 19 to allow demolition of a vacant two-story building, despite a plea from its former dive shop tenant to renovate it.
The building will be replaced with a shaded park for the public, with a walking path and seating, roadway realignment, extra parking spaces and other features, estimated to cost $700,000.
“We’re very excited,” said Michael Simon, assistant director of the Boynton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency. It needed county approval because of a $2 million county grant received in 2006. The agreement limited what could happen to that 1969 building.
The agency just opened its Harbor Master Building with a small store and restrooms open during marina business hours. The third phase of the marina can now be put out for bid, Simon said.
The agency will put together an invitation to bid, which will include the cost of the demolition. Then the bidders will be reviewed by the agency’s board later this summer.
Lynn Simmons, who ran Splashdown Divers in the building until about four years ago, had sued the agency when it became obvious that the building would be torn down. She ended up settling for a seven-year lease on her boat slip and $18,750 in credit toward the rent on the slip, which was set at market value. She also operates the Marina Bites convenience store in the Marina Village condominium.
Her dive shop occupied the building when the agency bought the marina in 2006. Her lawsuit alleged that the dive shop had been promised a permanent place in the marina once it was finished.
The Boynton Harbor Marina, just south of Boynton Beach Boulevard, consists of Two Georges and Banana Boat restaurants, the Marina Village condominium, and several fishing and diving businesses.
Linda Cross, who lives at Marina Village, commended the agency for moving forward with replacing the old dive shop building. “It has no historical purpose, and it’s an eyesore,” she told county commissioners.
Plus it’s a safety hazard restricting drivers’ views because the building sits at the convergence of three roads, Cross said.
Simmons tried to sway commissioners by citing the cost to renovate compared to the more expensive cost to tear down the building and replace it with a green space. She also tried to make an argument about the lack of public restrooms being too far for mothers and their kids.
But County Commissioner Steven Abrams, whose district covers Boynton Beach, commended the city and the agency for reviving the waterfront and creating “a gathering place for the community.”
He also said the old dive shop building is “beyond repair, in my opinion.”