By Larry Barszewski
Ocean Ridge commissioners are considering turning over more than 150 town-owned streetlights to Florida Power & Light, which would then take over the cost of replacing them and charge the town a monthly fee for their use.
Town Manager Lynne Ladner included $1 million in her proposed budget for street lighting that may be needed on Ocean Avenue to replace about 40 aging decorative lights there, but the town would not need to spend that money if it works out a deal with FPL to take over all the town’s lighting. The town would be required to maintain four lights on its end of the Ocean Avenue bridge itself.
Resident Victor Martel, who has been in touch with FPL officials, told commissioners if the town were to turn over its lights to FPL, the Ocean Avenue fixtures could be replaced by lights the company has available, though they would not match the lights on the Boynton Beach side of the bridge.
Commissioners said they would need to discuss the proposal with FPL and get a better idea of what LED lighting it offers that would be appropriate for residential areas. The company does have lower intensity options suitable for neighborhoods, Martel said.
Final vote on beach signs
The commission will take one more vote before a new beach sign ordinance is enacted. The commission agreed to add language that would also permit “No Trespassing” signs that are strung across private stairways over the dunes. The revision is expected to be voted on at the commission’s Sept. 5 meeting.
Iguana removal questioned
During the commission’s Aug. 7 meeting, Ladner said the contractor hired to remove iguanas from town property has removed 1,868 iguanas in the past year, an average of almost 156 a month — or about 20 every twice-a-week visit. But Vice Mayor Steve Coz questioned the veracity of those numbers and commissioners asked Ladner to implement steps to check that the numbers reported are accurate.
“These iguanas are huge and I’m told this guy has a car the size of Volkswagen bug,” Coz said. “I want proof of this. I don’t believe it.”
Deal sought on building site
Commissioners are still working out the details of a permit extension for construction work that has been going on at 6273 N. Ocean Blvd. for eight years. They temporarily extended the permit until their Sept. 5 meeting to give Town Attorney Christy Goddeau time to work out the details of a fee the town would assess property owner Andrew Rivkin in exchange for granting an extension until February 2024.
Because the work isn’t expected to be finished until next year, that’s another year when the new construction won’t be included on the tax rolls. Commissioners want Rivkin to cover the town’s lost property taxes for the project’s not being completed this year.
“We’ve forfeited six years of taxing it on its value because it wasn’t completed,” Commissioner Carolyn Cassidy said. “I think that we’ve forgone almost a million dollars in tax revenue in Ocean Ridge.”
Manager disputes quotation
In a memo to commissioners read at the Aug. 7 meeting, Ladner questioned a quote attributed to her in The Coastal Star’s August 2023 edition about buried water valves in town.
In the quote, she said Public Works Supervisor Billy Armstrong “wanted to bring this issue forward for a couple of years and has been unsure of whether he should or not because of the potential cost of the project, so he opted not to.”
The Coastal Star confirmed the quote through a recording of the meeting.
Ladner said: “I do not believe that this is a correct quotation of what I said, however, if it is I apologize to Supervisor Armstrong for misstating the situation.” Ladner went on to say Armstrong had raised the buried valve issue with his direct supervisor and the town attorney even before he was promoted to supervisor.
The article also contained information from Armstrong that was included in an email sent to The Coastal Star. The email was sent by Ladner, not Armstrong, but included Armstrong’s responses to questions by The Coastal Star.