The Coastal Star

Gulf Stream: Town keeps under the radar while over the Internet

By Tim O’Meilia

Google “Town of Gulf Stream” and there it is, down at the bottom of the first page of search results:

The town with the “shh, don’t tell anyone we’re here” attitude has joined the 20th century, if not the 21st. 

Now only two of Palm Beach County’s 38 municipalities lack a website — Glen Ridge and Cloud Lake, tiny hamlets near Palm Beach International Airport with a combined population of barely 350. 

Now you can see the Gulf Stream Town Council agenda for the next meeting and read the minutes from the last, learn a little history about the town (it was almost named Phipps Beach), see what homes are up for renovation approvals, even pay your water bill (with a surcharge).

“We needed to be modern, up-to-date, current,” said Mayor Joan Orthwein, who pushed for the town presence in cyberspace. “I’ve been thinking about it for years.”

You can see a snippet about Gulf Stream School, discover that anyone who works in town has to be registered and be informed of the latest news (longtime Mayor William F. Koch Jr. died last July after 46 years in office). OK, maybe not the latest news. 

To be honest, Koch was never eager to advertise the out-of-the-headlines lifestyle of the seaside community known for its canopy of Australian pines. 

That’s the way the town approached this idea of a website. “We wanted understated elegance,” said Town Commissioner Robert Ganger. “Old-fashioned charm in a new world.”

Orthwein gave town planner Marty Minor the task of working with the Green Group to develop the site. “They wanted something elegant but community-minded,” Minor said. “They wanted to tell the story of the town for visitors and let residents get information about what’s going on.”

Orthwein said she’s gotten positive feedback from other commissioners and the town’s planning advisory board.

The site’s been up about a month but she hasn’t heard much from residents. “In Gulf Stream, we don’t get a raft of phone calls,” she said.

“Great photos, good information,” said Commissioner Tom Stanley, who has already signed up to pay his water bill online.

The effort cost about $5,000 and town employees will keep the site updated. 

Gulf Stream is like a number of small towns with wealthy residents. “People like to fly under the radar,” said Richard Radcliffe, executive director of the Palm Beach County League of Cities. “There are a lot of towns that want to be low key.”                               Ú


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