Delray Beach: Red tape ties up potential assist for beach pavilion

By Mary Jane Fine
A generous offer from Seaside Builders to provide services, labor and material at cost has potentially moved Delray’s back-to-the-future beachfront pavilion one hurdle closer to realization.
    “It is very encouraging,” says Bob Currie, the architect who has donated his own work on the project. “We’re gonna do it. It is going to happen.”
    The pavilion, on A1A at Atlantic Avenue, will be a somewhat altered version of the original 1927 pavilion, which succumbed, not long after completion, to a hurricane.
    Its updated descendant will be built to withstand a Category 5 storm.
    But construction cannot begin until the next hurdles are cleared: “All we’ve got to do,” Currie says, “is get through the red tape.”
    Navigating that red tape involves securing site-plan approval from the city of Delray Beach —  the city included the pavilion in its newest budget — and approval from Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection. Toward that end, Currie has attended a series of meetings and submitted multiple sets of surveys, landscape plans and assorted paperwork to both the city and the DEP.
    It remains to be seen, he says, whether the Competitive Negotiation Act will compel Delray Beach to seek additional bids before deciding whether to accept Seaside’s.
    Mary Renaud, president of Delray’s Beach Property Owners Association, voiced reluctance to cite Seaside’s exact offer but called it “significantly lower” than an initial estimate of $250,000 from another company. The BPOA has been a major player in championing the project.
    Tom Laudani, co-owner of Seaside Builders, was the first to respond to the spate of letters Renaud mailed early in the year, she says, seeking donations for the project. Laudani made the offer, “Because I live in this community,” he says. “I’ve been here for 13 years, and I have a vested interest in the community.”
    The pavilion is phase one of an overall renovation of the beach area that includes landscaping; replacing benches, trash cans and beach showers with updated versions; designing dual paths for walkers and bike riders; redoing signage in the area; and possibly trading coin parking meters for pay-by-numbered-space meters.
    “The whole beach area has to be redone,” Currie says. “The pavilion is the most visible element, to show what the area could be.”
    Renaud is considering putting together a second Delray’s-Got-Talent fundraising event — the first, held in March, brought in $35,800 — to attract additional money toward the completion of the full-scale project.
    The initial talent show was described as “a red-carpet evening of music … headlining many of the best classical, jazz, country and rock ‘n roll performers in the area.”
    “I’d do it again, but not a third time,” Renaud said with a laugh.
    For now, the pavilion project remains on hold pending city and state approvals, a process that could take from three to nine months, Currie and Renaud speculate.
    “The state is the problem child,” says Currie. “You know how our government works. I’ve done things involving the beach before. The day before time is up [to grant approval], they want us to show them something else.”                  

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