By Mary Thurwachter

    Tom Deringer — or more specifically his tire and car repair business — wants to adopt Lantana’s public beach. But Deringer is finding that adopting the 745 feet of sandy shoreline isn’t quite as easy as saying “come to papa.”
    The Lantana councilman shared his desire during a town meeting on Aug. 8.
    “Palm Beach Tire Pros & Auto Repair wants to adopt Lantana beach,” Deringer said. “I’ve been looking for an environmentally friendly project for us for a while.”
That made him think of the beach, which he said needs cleaning.
 “It’s filthy over there,” Deringer lamented. “Someone’s got to clean it up. We’ll have a cleanup party in October and then pay a beach keeper to keep it clean.”
    To acknowledge the effort, Deringer asked that two company signs be placed at the beach entrances.
“We’re just talking about 12- by 48-inch signs to give credit for it at the entrance to the beach,” Deinger said.
    His fellow councilmen had mixed feelings.
    “I’m concerned about public perception,” Mayor Dave Stewart said. He said he wanted to be sure it was ethical for a council member to get what might be considered free advertisement. “I can see people calling me saying that certain people get special treatment.”
Stewart said he wasn’t totally against beach adoption. “But it needs to be open to everyone,” he said.
    Council member Malcolm Balfour said he thought Deringer’s idea was a noble one, but worried that there were already too many signs cluttering the small beach.
    At the council’s request, the town attorney weighed in on the subject at the Aug. 22 meeting.
    “There do not appear to be any bright line prohibitions to a sitting council member’s business being allowed to adopt the Lantana beach and provide beach cleaning services or receiving the recognition contemplated for doing so,” Town Attorney R. Max Lohman reported. “However, it would appear that in keeping with other municipalities’ best practices, it would be advisable for the Town Council to adopt a policy regarding this matter.”
    With that said, the council directed the town manager and Lohman to draft a policy, which would include a procedure for issuing a request for letters of interest, standards for selection, insurance and/or indemnification requirements, recognition-sign criteria and establishing the duration of any such sponsorship or adoption. The council would make final selections.
“I’m willing to go through the process,” Deringer said.

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