Maybe I had a little too much eggnog over the holidays, but as I contemplate a new year of covering our coastal communities, I’m going out on a limb with my Coastal Star wishes for 2014. Here goes:
Boca Raton: I wish the city would regain a sense of community. Boca must find a way to get residents out from behind their gated communities and involved in the future of their city. With a March election on the horizon, I hope Boca is able to bring out residents who seldom vote. Let’s make 2014 the year to get residents involved in the future of Boca Raton.
Boynton Beach: OK, The Coastal Star doesn’t really cover Boynton, but as an Ocean Ridge resident, I care what happens just over our bridges. So, I wish that instead of building more towers downtown, city leaders would embrace the city’s unique working marina and “Everyman’s” inlet and attempt to attract a major downtown anchor built around fishing and recreation. If Delray has the car dealerships on Federal Highway, couldn’t Boynton have the boat dealers? And a complex like the Worldwide Sportsman in Islamorada along with a small hotel would fit perfectly on a couple of those empty parcels downtown.
Briny Breezes: Now that the town has laid the groundwork for evolving the mobile home park into something more storm-worthy, my wish is that they find leadership willing to begin calm, adult discussions on their future. And forget waiting around to sell the park. If someone comes along who wants to buy Briny, they’ll make an offer. In the meantime, move forward and make Briny Breezes the kind of place you’d want to leave for your children and grandchildren.
Delray Beach: Isn’t it time to revisit all of the parking and traffic studies that have been done over the past several years? My wish is for the city and the CRA to put a temporary moratorium on new downtown development until there is a long-term plan for parking and traffic. I love Delray, but have been staying away lately due to the growing amount of traffic and lack of convenient parking.
Gulf Stream: Everyone has rights as a private citizen. Far be it from a newspaper to advocate against the pursuit of individual rights. Unfortunately, in Gulf Stream, the one who takes the brunt of these legal disputes is long-time Town Clerk Rita Taylor. She deserves better. Is there really no better way to resolve disputes? I wish there were.
Highland Beach and South Palm Beach: Yes, I know the two towns are different, but there are similarities. Both towns have an amazing sense of community and civic involvement and both are proud of their individuality. And, both have eroding beaches in front of private condominiums. My wish is that these two towns stay involved with regional beach management planning. Sand doesn’t know boundaries, and I don’t ever want to write about a condo falling into the Atlantic.
Lantana/Hypoluxo Island: Congratulations on your new bridge! My wish is that you’ll work to help the merchants on both sides bring new life to your charming downtown.
Manalapan: My wish is that everyone on the Town Commission (and town staff) stop sending town business-related emails. Not only are you treading the shallow waters of Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Laws, but you’re chumming for trouble. Bring your issues to the meetings. Present them at the appropriate time, listen to each other and discuss disputes with a calm demeanor. Government in the sunshine may not be simple, but it works to build the transparency required for a working democracy.
Ocean Ridge: Public beaches get public funding for maintenance renourishment and storm repair. Private beaches do not. If you don’t like people coming across the bridge to use “your “ beach, talk to Boynton Beach. Work something out. Boynton’s downtown master plan includes a lot more Las Ventanas (and larger) developments. My wish is that Ocean Ridge work with Boynton now to find solutions before little problems become serious problems.
Mary Kate Leming,