By Dan Moffett
South Palm Beach council members are going to take a second look at plans to renovate their aging Town Hall.
They unanimously agreed June 12 to hire North Palm Beach architect John Bellamy to review the structure and the renovation proposals the town received from another architect last year. The review will cost the town $5,000. Town Manager Mo Thornton recommended Bellamy to the council. He worked with Thornton to renovate the Atlantis Town Hall years ago when she served as town manager there.
“He will be able to tell if this is renovate-able and what it will take to do it,” Thornton said.
Bellamy, of Island Designs Inc., told the town he will review the work of Alexis Knight Architects of West Palm Beach from March 2017. The firm gave the town a $6 million plan to replace the Town Hall with a five-story structure, but council members quickly rejected it as too extravagant and too costly. Knight’s report and proposal cost the town about $49,000.
The existing Town Hall was constructed in 1976 as a public safety building and has evolved as a hodgepodge of additions, renovations and repairs that no longer satisfies the town’s needs, officials say.
Thornton said she expects Bellamy to have a report ready for the council’s meeting on July 24, a date that was rescheduled to accommodate officials’ summer vacations and absences.
The overriding decision waiting for the council is whether to try to improve the existing building or whether to tear it down and build a structure from the ground up.
“I don’t know which way we’re going to go,” said Vice Mayor Robert Gottlieb. “We’re going to have to decide.”
In other business:
• Council members are divided over how much to fine dog owners who violate the town’s new ordinance and take their pets onto the public beach.
Gottlieb and Councilman Bill LeRoy support $250 fines for violators with repeat offenses. Mayor Bonnie Fischer and Councilwoman Elvadianne Culbertson have balked at setting the fines that high. Councilwoman Stella Jordan was absent during the council’s June meeting, so a resolution to implement the $250 fines deadlocked 2-2.
In April the council passed an ordinance that allows police to cite and fine dog owners who bring their pets onto the beach. But without resolution of the fine debate, the ordinance has little impact. The council will take up the issue again July 24.
• Thornton says the town has received 21 responses to ads for the police chief position, vacated when Carl Webb retired in May. Council members have said they’re hopeful the new chief can be hired and on the job by the end of the summer.
By Dan Moffett