By Mary Thurwachter

    Although town staffers were able to clear enough of the mess Hurricane Irma made at the Nature Preserve to hold an annual Halloween party, the park remains closed. Only the front portion of the park was opened to the public for that Oct. 20 event.
    “The back path is still in pretty bad shape,” said Linda Brien, Lantana’s operations director. “There are a lot of trees down. They got a good pruning.”
    Council member Malcolm Balfour, who lives close to the preserve, said he thought a tornado had gone through the 6½-acre parcel at 440 E. Ocean Ave., just east of the bridge. “It really made a mess of things.”
    Brien said she isn’t sure when the entire park will be open. Her staff of eight is currently down to six.
    “We’ve got to do Winterfest [Dec. 2] first and then we’ll attack everything. Some big banyan trees were lost, leaving gaping spaces, and leaves and fronds are scattered across the paths.”
    The preserve was created in 1997 on land previously used for the town dump.
    In other news, the council:
    • Approved a contract with DEH Kingdom Management Inc. for grounds maintenance services for $77,666.
    • Authorized the purchase of a 2018 Ford Interceptor utility vehicle for $47,265 to be used by the police for field training.
    • Learned that the town had won first place for municipalities 20,000 and under in the Read for the Record program. Since the program began 12 years ago, Lantana has won first place 11 times.

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