By Dan Moffett
South Palm Beach has 15 of the 16 easements it needs to get its beach stabilization project moving.
But that’s not enough. It will take all 16, signed and returned, Town Manager Bob Vitas says.
“Nothing can happen until everyone gets onboard,” he said. “One holdout stops the project.”
Getting the 16th agreement appears likely to be the most difficult one of all.
The holdout is the Concordia East condominium, 3560 S. Ocean Blvd., whose homeowners board has balked over liability concerns about allowing Palm Beach County access to the beach for 50 years. Gayelord Palermo, the Concordia board president, says the condo’s lawyer hasn’t had a meaningful discussion with the county in months.
“We basically haven’t heard from the county so we’ve abandoned it,” Palermo said of the easement agreement. “My attorney tells me not to sign it, many of the unit owners are against it and so is the board.”
Palermo said county officials have ignored Concordia’s requests for changes in language that might satisfy the condo’s lawyer and many of the 120 unit owners.
“This is a case of government trying to shove something down our throat,” Palermo said. “I think now they’re trying to lay in the weeds and guilt us into going along with everyone else.”
He said his board doesn’t want to stop the project, but “we also don’t want to sign a document like this.” No negotiations with the county are scheduled, Palermo said.
County attorneys have been able to negotiate provisions with other condo groups and property owners to satisfy similar liability worries. About a half-dozen deadlines have come and gone over the last six months because of the missing easements.
Without them, the county can’t legally hire workers to go onto the town’s beaches and install the concrete groins that are designed to slow erosion. The $5 million project is a joint venture of the federal, state and municipal governments.
Kimberly Miranda, the county’s project director, says the target date for starting construction has been moved from this November to November 2018 because of the delays.
“I can’t imagine the county giving up on this project,” Mayor Bonnie Fischer said. “It’s been a long process. It would be hard to be stopped by one building.” Ú
By Dan Moffett