By Jane Smith
    
    Boynton Beach’s long-awaited Town Square project received a cash infusion in mid-June.
    City commissioners began the June 12 meeting in their usual places on the dais.
    Midway through the meeting, they adjourned and switched name plates to their Community Redevelopment Agency positions. After voting on the agency contribution, they ended that meeting and reopened the City Commission meeting.
    When all was said and done, they agreed to pay $4.36 million in the first phase of the Town Square project. About $1.5 million of that will go toward restoring the city’s historic high school.
    In addition to the high school renovations, the money will be used to create plans for the new police headquarters and fire station, and to cover other costs such as architectural, engineering, surveying and permit fees.
    Members of the public will be invited to meetings in late July and early August, said Colin Groff, assistant city manager, to say what they think about uses for the high school and where the project’s parks should be.
    Groff said he hopes to have a contract that the City Commission can vote on in November.
    Town Square’s total estimated cost is $94.5 million, Groff said. The amount will be reduced by land sales to the developer, projects that are already in the budget for the next few years and CRA contributions, he said.
    The 16.5-acre project will create a downtown-like area with a hotel, apartments, condos, townhouses and shops, just south of Boynton Beach Boulevard and between Seacrest Boulevard and Northeast First Avenue.
    A new City Hall, updated city library, renovated Schoolhouse Children’s Museum and restored high school will be part of the mix. Outside of the project area, a new police headquarters is tentatively set for city land on High Ridge Road, while a new Fire Station 1 will sit just east of Northeast First Avenue.
    During the agency portion of the meeting, board members learned from the CRA director that the agency’s share of Town Square will come from the sale of the Magnuson House, leftover dollars from the Marina project and the unused money for a proposed dog park that was not approved.
    “This project is going to take a significant portion of the budget for the next four to five years,” said Michael Simon, agency director. “Then it will be multiple years of payments.”
    The city and CRA expect to pay for their shares of the project by selling land and issuing bonds. The bonds would retire on Sept. 20, 2044, to coincide with the date the CRA sunsets, Simon said.
    “This is sticker shock when you look at the CRA budget,” said Justin Katz, CRA board member. “But the alternative would be to raise taxes.”

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