“On this side of the bridge, people wave with all five fingers.”

I laughed out loud when Ocean Ridge Police Chief Chris Yannuzzi said this to help explain why his department was better suited to provide protection to Briny Breezes at its June 24 town meeting. After 25 years with the Boynton Beach police, he knew what he was talking about.

I think we all do.

After much thought, discussion and a hard look at the financial implications of the two contracts, Briny made the right decision by agreeing to return their protection to their neighbors. We can only hope this is the beginning of a return to friendly relations between the two towns.

Boynton Beach’s lack of ability to negotiate a better contract for water, sewer, fire or police protection should have come as no surprise to the Briny commission. Boynton is a big city with big city problems. That’s what drives their financial decisions — not an attempt to thumb their noses at Briny.

Consider Boynton Beach’s willingness to respond to fire-rescue calls in the unincorporated pocket when the county requests mutual aid or when a 911 caller requests Boynton’s response. Boynton Beach Fire Chief William Bingham was the first to step forward to work out an agreement with the county to renew services to this area.

Are there financial repercussions for his doing so? No doubt. But I’ve heard Chief Bingham speak about this arrangement, and believe he genuinely cares about the safety of residents in our area.

When Ocean Land Investments rolled into town with its snake oil of a deal to buy Briny, there was a lot less concern for the residents on this side of the bridge. They pitted good, honest Briny shareholders — with a dream of being able to provide an increased inheritance for their heirs — against good, honest residents of the neighboring towns with a dream of maintaining their existing lifestyle into their retirement years. The proposed sale built a wall between neighbors.

If Briny’s earlier choice of Boynton for police protection was retaliation for Ocean Ridge’s stand against the Ocean Land development, then this decision to return police protection to Ocean Ridge can be seen as an olive branch — finally. Let’s hope so.

Regardless of Briny’s long-range plans for the park, let’s hope they include their neighbors in the discussion. We all want the same thing on this side of the bridge: to live in a place where neighbors smile and wave at each other — with all five fingers.

— Mary Kate Leming, editor


Disclosure: The editor and publisher of The Coastal Star own properties in both Ocean Ridge and Briny Breezes, and did at the time of the proposed sale.

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