The Coastal Star

    There was a time I’d stopped going because the checkout line sometimes smelled like urine and the parking lot hosted panhandlers. Still, the location was convenient and there were a few items I preferred over the Publix across the street. So I will miss the Winn-Dixie just across the Woolbright Road bridge, on the Intracoastal in Boynton Beach.  
    I have fond memories of the place when my mother was alive. While she lived in Briny Breezes, she could push her small cart over to do her shopping. Without a car (she hadn’t driven in years), this gave her a sense of freedom that she cherished. She loved the walk across the bridge and the lovely, friendly cashier who was always singing church songs.
    They looked after Mom there. When her memory began to fade, they would help her with her debit card or call to say she’d forgotten a bag of groceries or her wallet. It was a neighborhood place and they knew their regular customers.
    Of course, that’s been a long time ago, and as much as I would love to see a friendly, neighborhood Whole Foods take its place, I suppose a grocery store on the Intracoastal doesn’t make much sense. The Boynton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency and the property owner say they are looking to “optimize the water views” as they attract a new tenant. I interpret that to mean more restaurants or residential.
    If those are the only options, I hope they’ll pursue more restaurants. I still drive and hope to for many, many more years. But when the time comes for me to trade in my car keys for a shopping cart, I hope there’s someplace I can reach by foot to buy groceries or a sandwich.
    A bunch of single-family homes does not make a neighborhood. Neighborhoods require essential services. As our small barrier island towns consider the future, we should think about this. Let’s not become a string of gated communities.
    I know it can seem frightening to have so little control over what happens on the west side of the bridge, but let’s keep talking with each other and considering plans that will allow us all to grow old here — with the freedom to walk down the street for a haircut, a pint of ice cream or tomorrow’s dinner.

Mary Kate Leming,

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