By Mary Thurwachter
The Town Council agreed in May to hire a third-party consultant to create a new master plan for Lantana using information gathered from residents during two recent workshops.
The move follows through on a goal of Mayor Robert Hagerty, who was elected in March. He said during his campaign it was time for a master plan update and that input from residents was essential to the process.
During the workshops, one of the residents who urged the town to hire a third-party consultant for the master plan was J.J. McDonough of Hypoluxo Island. He said the town should focus on utilizing its assets — the beach and Ocean Avenue. Among his suggestions were to add retail space at the beach and increase parking near the beach.
Karen Lowry, also of Hypoluxo Island, said the town needs a more embracing entrance from Interstate 95.
“Let it be welcoming,” she said. “Let it signal that this is a place where businesses want to do business and people want to live.” She suggested planting berms of overflowing lantana, the flower for which the town got it name.
Ted Cook of The Moorings said the town needs to address the empty buildings on East Ocean Avenue that once were home to restaurants and shops. “The restaurants on the avenue do well, but there are not enough,” he said.
Cook likes the idea of installing a gazebo in Bicentennial Park for concerts and gatherings and said the town needs a high-end banquet hall near the beach as a way to draw more visitors.
Developer Steve Dworkin told the council he favors a master plan that implements public art structures, technology, infrastructure improvements and beautification throughout the town. He talked about the unprecedented high level of property investments taking place in the county, the large infrastructure funding bill proposed at the federal level and taking advantage of funding that may become available in the future for these improvements.
Chamber of Commerce President Dave Arm brought up the lack of parking in the downtown/Ocean Avenue corridor. He suggested turning the northern tennis courts at the Recreation Center and the old Development Services Building into a municipal parking lot with a shuttle service to Ocean Avenue.
Vice Mayor Pro Tem Karen Lythgoe proposed adding a water feature at Maddock Park, doing a full review of the Code of Ordinances, working with volunteer groups to organize trash pickups and starting a community garden in Lyman Park.
She proposed providing veterans with free parking at the beach and other places in town, and would like the town to hire a community outreach officer.
Town staff members shared ideas, as well. Among these were adding a water taxi service to attract visitors from surrounding areas to Lantana’s downtown, adding a fitness park to one of the town’s existing parks and building a municipal marina with a small-town fishing vibe.