By Jane Smith
The East Coast Greenway path along the ocean was reconsidered recently by the full City Commission and deemed fitting with the image Delray Beach wants to convey.
“It’s not a design effort but a recognition of Delray for what it is,” said Jim Chard, chairman of Human Powered Delray, a group that promotes walking and cycling in the city. “It’s very similar to the Tree City USA designation, the All America City … calling attention to [us] that we are a special city.”
At the Aug. 16 commission meeting, the Beach Property Owners Association board said it supports the concept of the 3,000-mile-long Greenway from Maine to Key West, according to Andy Katz, board vice president.
“It’s a feather in the cap for what we are doing,” said John Morgan, environmental services director.
In December, the Greenway was approved on the consent agenda. Some community members objected to the path, sometimes called a trail, as something that would bring undesirable people who would camp on the city’s beach and clog traffic with their bicycles. They even appealed to state Rep. Bill Hager, who wrote to Mayor Cary Glickstein asking for community input on the item.
The use of the word “trails” might have confused people, Glickstein said. In an urban area such as Delray, they’re really sidewalks along the beach because they satisfy the criteria, he said.
“I got zero negative feedback from other cities,” he said. “And I even asked the people who complained to provide specific examples of negative impact around the state, but I never heard back.”
In Delray Beach, the path would begin at the north on Federal Highway and travel south to George Bush Boulevard, where it would turn east to A1A and then south to Highland Beach.
Delray Beach has 1.3 miles of sidewalk that is 9.6 feet wide along the ocean and will be recognized as the Greenway.
In nearby Boca Raton, 4.7 miles along A1A were dedicated in 2012 to the route. Highland Beach, which sits directly south of Delray Beach, does not have the wide sidewalks required for the path. The organization that runs the Greenway wants sidewalks of at least 10 feet, but it will accept sidewalks that are 8 feet wide.
The coastal communities north of Delray Beach — Gulf Stream, Ocean Ridge and Manalapan — do not have the required wide sidewalks. This means the path likely will stay on Federal Highway through Boynton Beach and Lantana.
At the Delray Beach City Commission meeting, no one spoke against the Greenway. The commissioners all agreed the designation was beneficial for the city.
“I think it’s the right thing to do when we did it, and I still think it is today,” the mayor said.
In other business, the commission unanimously approved a resolution affirming its commitment to beach renourishment and paying its share with a matching amount from Palm Beach County.
City Manager Don Cooper also gave an update on the beach master plan: The bid notice was published Aug. 22 with proposals due by Sept. 15 and evaluated by Sept. 20. Cooper has commission approval to award the contract, provided the amount is within the budget. He will report to the commission within five days about the contract award.
The construction work is expected to take 60 to 90 days, Cooper said. The bid document will give the contractor the option of nighttime work to reduce the construction time. The night work can occur after turtle-nesting season ends Oct. 31.