By Anne Geggis

In response to Delray Beach residents’ complaints about how the downtown vibe is disrupting their lives, a proposal is advancing to add four new police officers to the area’s current team of 10.

The City Commission, meeting Jan. 23 as the Delray Beach Community Redevelopment  Agency, appeared mostly in agreement when discussing the addition of $640,000 to the agency’s budget to put more police downtown. The actual vote will come at the next CRA meeting, scheduled for Feb. 27, said Commissioner Adam Frankel, the CRA chairman.

It would be the first expansion of downtown police personnel in 10 years, Frankel said. That dates back nearly to a time when he said the city was still known as “Dull-Ray.”

“If you look at 10 years ago versus today, there’s a big difference in the number of people who live downtown, come downtown,” Frankel said.

But Arlen Dominek, a downtown resident who led a parade of neighbors complaining about club and street noise at a Jan. 18 City Commission meeting, doesn’t think there’s much of a mandate from city leadership to quiet the hubbub that’s disrupting the peace and enjoyment of their homes.

While some residents think the added police might help with disturbances attributed to panhandlers and others on the streets, Dominek doesn’t expect the new personnel will address the traffic issues he and his neighbors find most vexing.

“There’s someone who zips down the avenue at 12:45” every night, said Dominek, who came to the city as an IT worker for a health care software company in 1997. “This has been an ongoing pet peeve of mine for a very long time. I don’t think the City Commission has any real conviction to see that its noise ordinance is enforced.”

Claudia Willis, a resident of the downtown’s Marina Historic District for 40 years, says the vaunted “vibe” of the area is giving her a headache.

“Particularly bothersome are the motorcycles that gun it and the cars that seem to be drag racing on Federal Highway at night,” she said.

She said she really doesn’t want to see taxpayers’ money going to fix the problem, though, and is unconvinced that more police will make a difference.

Frankel said noise is just one facet he sees improving with more police dedicated to downtown. He recalled an evening in October spent dining at an outdoor table. Within the space of 30 minutes, he said a stranger aggressively approached him demanding money, another passer-by took the drink from his restaurant table and he witnessed what he believed was a drug deal in progress.

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