By Rich Pollack
Hampered by the need for Town Commission approval for many actions and by Florida’s Sunshine Law, members of Highland Beach’s Beaches and Shores Committee are asking that the group be dissolved as an official town board in order to reorganize it as an independent body.
At a meeting last month, members agreed that the current structure limits the group’s ability to to have a substantial impact on beautification in the town and, in particular, on its beaches, according to Commissioner Elise Riesa, a former chair of the Beaches and Shores Committee.
“This isn’t a negative; it’s a positive,” said Riesa, who met with committee members last month. “They felt that as a club they could do so much more.”
Members, according to Riesa, believe that with the change they would no longer be bound by the town ordinance that established the committee and be able to enlist more people to help with beautification and beach cleanups. Currently, the group is limited to seven members.
“As a club, it would mean that they could go beyond the limits of the original ordinance,” she said.
Members of the committee — which is scheduled to meet quarterly but until the May meeting hadn’t met since December — also felt they can’t currently communicate with one another due to the Florida Sunshine Law, which limits private conversations among members of governmental bodies regarding issues that might come up for a vote.
The group, Riesa said, felt that as a club they could be more proactive and transform into a more effective and active team focused on ensuring a healthy and safe environment for the town’s beaches and shores.
Members are hopeful they would have more opportunity to organize monthly or weekly beach cleanups, communicate more effectively with residents and possibly host education seminars.
Town commissioners are expected to vote this month on the committee’s recommendation to disband.
If the proposal receives commission support, Beaches and Shores Committee members will take the lead in helping to form the club, Riesa said.
“To have an active club working on beautifying the town together — that’s where we should be,” she said.
By Rich Pollack