10165261264?profile=RESIZE_710x(l-r) Chamber president and moderator Dave Arm at the Feb. 24 forum with candidates John Raymer, Lynn Moorhouse, Joe Farrell, Media Beverly, Ed Schropshire and Kem Mason. Mary Thurwachter/The Coastal Star

 

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By Mary Thurwachter

Six candidates for two seats on Lantana’s Town Council discussed several topics — agreeing on many of them — during a forum hosted by the Lantana Chamber of Commerce at the Palm Beach Maritime Academy on Feb. 24. They showed enthusiasm for the master plan, want beach restoration, and are interested in attracting good, taxpaying businesses.
But when moderator and Chamber President Dave Arm asked if any of them would be open to a public/private partnership for adding restaurants and a hotel at the public beach, the majority answered with a resounding “no.” Such a proposal has not been formally made, but rumors have swirled about it since early last year.
“I don’t want a hotel at the beach,” said Lynn Moorhouse, the only incumbent running. Moorhouse, a retired dentist, said that traffic flow is already bad over the bridge and if a hotel were built at the beach, traffic “would be nuts.”
Traffic was also a concern for Media Beverly, a longtime council watcher who successfully advocated to keep medical marijuana dispensaries out of town.
“Hotel? No,” she said. “I’ve talked to a lot of people during this campaign in all of Lantana and I’ve asked them and it’s a resounding ‘no.’ Our beach is only 750 feet; that’s all we have. For a lot of people in this town, that’s the only recreational source they have. To put a hotel up there, even with incorporated parking, you’re still talking about traffic. To add any traffic in that corridor would not be sustainable.”
Former council member Ed Shropshire, a retiree who lost his bid for reelection two years ago, said the beach is a treasure and should be treated as such. While not in favor of a hotel, he said the beach “could be utilized a little bit better, without crowding out the people.”
Kem Mason, a retired firefighter and former lifeguard and surfer, was also against the idea.
“No hotel, that’s one of our jewels,” he said of the beach. “I can speak for all the surf rats, and, no, no hotel.”
Newcomer John Raymer, an Army veteran who manages Ace Rental Place, and Joe Farrell, a flooring distributor who has run for office before, said they would be open to looking at it. Raymer said it would be “up to the residents to decide,” and Farrell said adding a hotel could be a way to bring in new revenue.
When candidates were asked about how they would bring more revenue to the town, Farrell said the town needs to “make things happen that we didn’t think about before.” He said that 10 years ago one of his neighbors suggested selling Bicentennial Park for condo development and having the town buy the Cenacle property for a waterside park.
“The Cenacle property’s gone so we don’t have to worry about it,” he said. “But we have to look at ideas like that.”
Beverly said the town needs to rein in some of its expenses and add businesses, “but we have to be careful, very prudent and we have to be strategical about it. There’s very limited commercial space here in Lantana.”
She said code revision and zoning need to be tackled to attract business and there is grant money the town hasn’t tapped into that could help with many projects.
Shropshire said he thinks the town needs to do a better job of vetting contractors.
“For example, the major contractor for the library bailed because he didn’t have the correct certification.” The library will “sit there another two months before they even start again. We’re losing money like that,” Shropshire said.
Mason said as someone who worked for the government as a lifeguard and firefighter for more than three decades, he has seen a lot of waste.
“We need to instill in our employees not to waste. And we need to work with businesses to come to town, we cannot discourage businesses from coming to the town — they pay taxes and help support us.”
Moorhouse said a lot of money would be coming in from Water Tower Commons, a retail and residential project on the site of the former A.G. Holley hospital, and from Aura Seaside, an apartment complex on the former Cenacle site.
Moorhouse and Raymer said they would look to the new master plan for guidance in bringing in revenue.
In a related matter, candidates learned that all campaign signs on Lantana Road had been removed in the middle of the night on Feb. 23. Police Chief Sean Scheller reported that a video captured by a camera outside of Arm’s gym showed a nondescript man putting signs in a pickup truck.
Scheller said the rightful owners of the signs, the candidates, had not filed any police reports yet, but several said they planned to do so.
The election is March 8.

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  • Good morning Coastal Star.  Campaign signs are still on the Town of Lantana's public property 2 days after the Mar. 8, 2022, election.

    I got plenty of mail solicitations from the candidates up to the Elections, including a robocall, which tells me that the candidate got, well, alot of financial backing.  One of the candidates even called to me from his truck while I was walking on West Pine Street with my dog the morning of the election.

    Not one of these campaigns can bring it upon themselves to remove their campaign signs, though, and they will probably not do a thing.  They'll leave it up to overstretched facility Town employees to do, who are paid from my property taxes and the like.  I'm pretty sure these needed to be down within 10 days as per the Town's municipal code, which it only selectively enforces.  Let's see if the removal even happens.    

    And by the way, the Town of Lantana took upon itself to remove pet waste signage and various other signs because it considered them to be polluting our wonderful Town environment.  Yet here these campaign signs are, which frankly, are likely all around the Town's open lots and on public land.  Their failure to be removed will reek of hypocrisy, but hey, as long as the public is paying for their removal, who in the candidates' campaigns would care?10200033694?profile=RESIZE_930x

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