By Jane Smith

Parking for Veterans Park visitors likely will become less convenient as the massive Atlantic Crossing project next door prepares for a new phase of construction.
The Delray Beach park at the northwest corner of the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Avenue may soon lose all parking spaces that sit adjacent to the Atlantic Crossing site to the west. Those spaces would instead be used as a construction staging area for the project’s second phase on the Atlantic Plaza site if an agreement can be reached.
With a 3-2 consensus at its Dec. 6 meeting, the City Commission directed staff to continue negotiating with Edwards Companies, the owner of the 9-acre complex, about an interim parking plan. Commissioners will be able to review the plan after evaluation by a city advisory board, according to the city attorney.
The developer had suggested using an interim parking lot it owns on the north side of Northeast First Street, but that site was rejected by all commissioners. The street has been torn up for the past five years by heavy construction equipment traveling on it, making the lot problematic for park users, commissioners said.
“We would be mixing heavy equipment with pedestrians,” said Mayor Shelly Petrolia, who, along with Deputy Vice Mayor Juli Casale, was not in favor of the new deal.
Another proposal, to create a new parking lot on the north side of the park, would mean the city may lose its shuffleboard and lawn bowling courts at the park.
Casale objected to that proposal, given the park’s recent designation as a historic resource, saying it would take out historic buildings and replace them with a parking lot. She also did not approve of the request made by the developer to speed up construction at Atlantic Crossing.
The project has nearly completed Phase I construction at the northeast corner of Northeast Sixth and Atlantic avenues, said Don DeVere, Edwards vice president. “We’re not happy with the pace of construction. It’s been far too slow,” DeVere said.
Letting the needed heavy equipment use the western Veterans Park spaces would speed up the construction and allow two underground garages to be “dewatered at the same time,” said Vince Testa, construction manager.
Vice Mayor Adam Frankel said Edwards has gone “above and beyond” what was required. He was in favor of working out an arrangement.
The Veterans Park shuffleboard courts have not been used in six years, said Sam Metott, the city’s parks and recreation director. The lawn bowlers have a group of 25 to 30 people who use the courts seasonally, he said.
Staff could not say exactly how many parking spaces exist in Veterans Park or how many would be replaced by the proposed addition of parking spaces on the park’s north side. Nearby residents estimated the park has 70 to 80 parking spaces.
Delray Yacht Cruises, which operates Intracoastal Waterway tours from the park aboard the Lady Atlantic and the Lady Delray, already advises its customers to use any available downtown parking facilities.
Amid the parking concerns, a monthly event at Veterans Park is being asked by the city to move to a new home because it has outgrown the park’s footprint. The Coco Wellness Marketplace, held the first Sunday of the month, would prefer to stay.
“Veterans Park is the right location for us,” Corey Heyman told commissioners during the public comment section of the meeting. “The shade from the trees and the breeze from the waterway” make it ideal.
She asked for more time to find a different location, saying a Jan. 1 expulsion was too soon, especially given that her group had a verbal agreement with the city to stay at Veterans Park through 2023. The commission agreed to allow the marketplace more time and to be at the park on the first Sundays of January and February.
Atlantic Crossing continues to draw criticism from the Marina Historic District across Atlantic Avenue from the massive project.
“It’s not in the best interest of the city, its residents, its visitors or anybody else, but Atlantic Crossing,” Sandy Zeller, a former historic district resident, said during the public comment portion of the commission meeting.

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