Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Delray Approves Bond Program and Reaches Police Union Agreement

Delray Beach will ask voters in March to approve a bond program that would finance major public improvements.

Mayor Shelly Petrolia and city commissioners Ryan Boylston and Adam Frankel provided the majority at last Friday’s goal-setting meeting for City Manager Terrence Moore to start work on the plan. It has been more than 30 years since Delray Beach’s last taxpayer-financed bond to build and upgrade public facilities.

The principal projects will include a new City Hall, a new police station and upgrades to parks. Other priorities could emerge during staff review of the needs. Moore told me Wednesday that he and top administrators will meet next week to start that review of “goals and objectives.”

Boylston noted that the commission will restrict the bond program to items that can’t be financed any other way. A separate bond for the water plant, he pointed out, will be financed with customers’ bills. The city hopes that a public-private partnership will provide money for renovating the municipal golf course. During Friday’s meeting, fire department officials said upgrades to stations can be paid for over the next decade as part of annual budget allocations. Sustainability grants could pay for the new station to replace the one in Highland Beach that Delray Beach will lose when that town begins operating its own department in two years.

There’s no way to tell at this point what the price of the program might be. The city will have to determine construction costs at a time when global supply chain problems are pushing up prices. In addition, the staff and commission will have to decide what they want in each project.

Example: City Hall. Boylston said the city may not need to have all employees work there, which would affect the size. Boylston cited plans for the human resources department to work at the former train depot near Interstate 95.

Moore, however, said, “There is some justification for centralizing” all employees. That’s what happened when he oversaw similar projects in Sebastian, near Cape Kennedy, and Las Cruces, N.M. Moore suggested that the city’s wellness center could go at the depot, which would eliminate rent the city now pays for its facility.

Though interest rates are rising, Moore said these projects are “overdue and long deferred.” Once the city compiles a list of projects and their cost, Moore will work on a campaign to “educate the community on why we need this.”

Delray reaches agreement over police contracts

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Delray Beach and the Fraternal Order of Police finally have reached tentative agreement on a new contract.

Officers had been working without a new deal since October. Terms were not disclosed, but Moore said he will bring ratification to the commission at its June 7 meeting. In an email to the commission, Moore said the city’s negotiating team expects “an overwhelming favorable ratification vote” by the union before the commission meeting. Any agreement would be retroactive to Sept. 30, when the last contract expired.

Changing plans for Park Square ALF?

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Proposed ALF Property in Boca Square

What Boca Raton had approved as a 151-bed adult living facility (ALF) may become a different kind of senior center.

On tonight’s planning and zoning board agenda is a request to change the plan for five acres at 8250 North Congress Ave., near the Delray Beach city line. Five years ago, the city approved a rezoning that allowed the ALF. The property had been zoned for industrial use.

The new application is for a facility with 150 rehab beds and just 50 in the ALF category. Though there would be more beds overall in a larger building than the first plan, city planners note that current rules allow a maximum of 374 beds.

As was the case in 2017, the staff is mainly concerned about emergency medical calls, which tend to be higher from senior living centers. But the developer believes that the number of calls would be lower because this project would be more of a convalescent facility where residents get treatment from staff.

According to the application, the facility would have 10 certified nursing assistants and six licensed practical nurses on site. “The analysis,” the staff memo states, “also indicates that there is a more recent trend for both skilled nursing facilities and ALFs having fewer EMS calls than older ALFs as newer ALFs have shifted their operational standards to having staff on-site that can address more emergency medical situations, thereby significantly reducing the need to call for these services.” The staff recommends approval of the project with conditions, one being the requirement that the facility have those 16 professionals available at all times.

There has been a push in recent years for more senior living centers in Boca Raton. A developer wants to build an adult living facility near Addison Mizner School. That project is now the object of a lawsuit. The developer alleges that the city said the project needs a comprehensive plan amendment, requiring four votes on the city council, after saying that an amendment was not necessary.

Boca approves new building inspection fee

At last week’s meeting, the city council approved the $500 fee for the 191 buildings that come under Boca Raton’s building safety recertification program. Notices have gone out to the first 14 buildings on the list.

Boca Raton prioritized the reinspections by geography, starting with those on or closest to the ocean. The city created the program after the collapse last summer of an oceanfront condo in Miami-Dade County.

Reinspections require review by a structural engineer and electrical engineer. Buildings that require work must submit a plan to the city and a deadline for completing the work. The deadline for those first 14 reinspections is February 2023. The next group of 14 must be completed by May 2023. The city expects to get through the backlog in four years.

Boca Bash alleged assailant pleads not guilty

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Cole Goldberg; photo from Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office

The man charged with attempted murder from an incident at last month’s Boca Bash has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors formally will file charges against Cole Preston Goldberg, a city resident, on May 26. Witnesses said Goldberg held Caroline Schlitsky underwater after an argument.

In an unusual twist, Schlitsky has hired her own attorney. In her filing, the attorney says Schlitsky invokes 13 rights under Florida law. Among other things, she seeks protection from “intidimation, harassment and abuse” and from “the accused and anyone acting on behalf of the accused.” Goldberg is out on bail. A judge ordered him not to have contact with Schlitsky.

Randy Schultz
Randy Schultz, a native of Hartford, Connecticut, has been a South Florida journalist since 1974. He worked for The Miami Herald until 1976 and for The Palm Beach Post from 1976 until 2014, where he served as managing editor and editorial page editor. Since 2014, he has written a politics blog, commentaries and other articles for Boca magazine. His writing has earned first-place awards from the Florida Magazine Association and the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. Randy has lived in Boca Raton with his wife, Shelley Huff-Schultz, since 1985. His son, daughter-in-law and their three children also live in Boca Raton.

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