Mrs. Muoio goes to Washington

Mayor Jeri Muoio

Mayor Jeri Muoio has been in the nation’s capital this past week, shaking the money tree and the policy tree.

The mayor, along with City Attorney Kimberly Rothenburg, has taken the city’s issues to U.S. Reps. Alcee Hastings and Lois Frankel, to Sen. Bill Nelson and a member of Sen. Marco Rubio’s staff. She’s met officials of the Justice and Transportation departments and the Coast Guard.

If you’re trying to connect the dots between those people and agencies and West Palm Beach issues, here’s the big picture:

The mayor said she went to the Army Corps of Engineers to express her administration’s continued opposition to extending State Road 7 along the western perimeter of the Grassy Waters Preserve, “and our hope they will not grant them a permit.”

“They know us now and they always have been helpful and open to discussion so we talked to them.”

We’ll see how that works out. Word down here is that the state is weeks away from putting shovel to dirt for the project, which would link Northlake and Okeechobee boulevards.

She also spoke with the Coast Guard to ask whether the Royal Park drawbridge can stay down during morning rush hour. When it opens at 8 a.m. every weekday, it tends to lock up downtown traffic.

“They told us there’s an application process and how to do that,” she said, encouraged. The city will have to use data from its mobility study to make a case for the change. “It’s amazing to me they have an application process to do that. Obviously we’re not the first one to ask.”

The West Palm officials also spoke to people at the Department of Transportation, about how to get money for infrastructure, such as a transit hub downtown, a dedicated express bus lane, or even light rail. Light rail is an expensive option, certainly but, “It’s a blue sky goal that I’ve had, but if there’s federal funding….” All the transportation money is hard to get but worth pursuing, Muoio said.

She said she also was urging our congressional delegation to fight cutbacks in block grants for housing, some of which in the past has gone to providing housing for the city’s homeless.

She also pressed for support for the Drone Federalism Act, a piece of bipartisan legislation that would give localities the power to control where and when drones can be used, currently a matter mainly of federal law.

 

 

Hot-button waterfront plan to be discussed by West Palm reps

Materio smiles after being appointed to the commission

UPDATED:

Word that Mayor Jeri Muoio’s staff was moving ahead with a plan that could put an office tower near the waterfront sent city commissioners’ phones ringing this week.

Commissioner Paula Ryan said she’d fielded 700 emails on the hot-button issue. The mayor said she also had a folder filled with inquiries.

Problem was, the commission hadn’t been filled in so there wasn’t much they could say on the matter — the mayor’s Development Services staff had been treating it as an administrative matter* at this stage and planned to bring it to the commission in the months ahead, after going through the Planning Board and Downtown Action Committee.

That’s going to change.

At Commissioner Shanon Materio’s request, Muoio this week agreed to schedule a mayor-commission work session on the plan, which would allow developer Related Cos. of New York to build a 25-story office tower on a site near the waterfront now limited to five stories.

It was Related that came up with the idea, but the city took the ball and ran with it, citing a shortage of first-class office towers with which to attract employers.

Since spot-zoning —  changing the zoning to favor a specific parcel, even if at odds with current zoning — isn’t Kosher, Related proposed that the city create a whole Okeechobee Boulevard business district that would include its site near the First Church of Christ, Scientist.

Materio said the point of her request was to slow the approval process down a bit, so commissioners, the city’s policy-making body, can have a better sense of where the administration is headed before the plan goes to the other boards.

“We have no idea right now of what is being put together,” she said.

*Note: The Mayor’s Office objected to this characterization. Here’s what spokeswoman Kathleen Walter said in an email Wednesday:

“Your blog post states, ‘the Mayor’s Development Services staff had been treating (the Related Cos. project) as an administrative matter.’ That’s not accurate. To clarify, the City has not been treating it as an administrative matter. The City’s Development Services Department stated from the very beginning that the changes that the City was going to require were the creation of a new zoning district and a comprehensive plan change. Neither of these requirements is an administration matter, and public input is required. The matter requires a formal review by the Downtown Action Committee, the Planning Board, and two public hearings with the City Commission. In an effort to publicize and receive input on these proposed changes, the Development Services Department  held a workshop on April 12, 2017 with the Downtown Action Committee and on April 18, 2017 with the Planning Board. Both of these meetings lasted approximately four hours, and the City received a lot of public input. The meeting agendas are publicized and shared with board members and commissioners to inform everyone of what is being discussed in each of these meetings.”

Who’s running for office in West Palm Beach?

Sylvia Moffett

It’s that time of year when campaigns grind into gear for the March 18 city commission races.

Three of the five commissioners are up for re-election: Sylvia Moffett in District 1 in the North End, Paula Ryan in District 3, which stretches roughly from the El Cid area to the Northwest, and Shanon Materio in District 5, in the South End.

Ryan

So far only Moffett faces a challenge, from pastor Martina Tate Walker, who ran unsuccessfully against her in 2016.

Martina Tate Walker

Materio is holding her campaign kickoff at 5:30 p.m. today, June 28, at the Palm Beach Zoo, 1301 Summit Blvd.

 

How do you want West Palm Beach to spend your money?

Mayor Jeri Muoio and City Commissioners are inviting the public to participate in a series of Community Budget Workshops, as they make decisions about which projects and programs get how much money.

The new budget year starts Oct. 1 and the planning process has begun. Time for the public to weigh in.

The workshops will be hosted by Mayor Muoio, Chief Financial Officer Mark Parks, and Budget Manager Linda McDermott. They will be held in each of the City’s five districts:

  • July 24, 6 p.m.: Fire Station #3, 5050 Broadway (District 1).
  • July 26, 6 p.m.: Fire Station #5, 500 N. Congress (District 2).
  • July 27, 6 p.m.: Flagler Gallery at City Hall (District 3).
  •  Aug. 1, 6 p.m.: Fire Station #7, 8011 Okeechobee Blvd. (District 4).
  • Aug. 2, 6 p.m.: Location to be announced, in the Northwest (District 3).
  • Aug. 3, 6 p.m.: Fire Station #2, 4301 S. Dixie Highway (District 5).

    For more information, contact Budget Manager Linda McDermott at 561-822-1342.

Game night 6 p.m. Monday on waterfront green

Aesop’s Tables. (Contributed)

Blogger, Tweeter and international man of mystery Aaron Wormus will host a free community game night at 6 p.m. Monday, June 26, at West Palm Beach’s waterfront green.

Wormus, the “guy” behind the aGuyonClematis Twitter account and blog, will lead the event at the city’s outdoor art exhibition, Aesop’s Tables, where picnic tables are painted with themes of Aesop’s fables.

Equipped with silly games, ice breaker activities and prizes, Wormus will warm us with all things fun while showcasing the exhibition, created by 19 local artists.

For information about Aesop’s Tables and other West Palm Beach summer events, visit wpb.org/events.

Aaron Wormus, fresh from a morning bath at a nuclear waste dump.

 

 

Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County hosts school supply and backpack drive

Members of Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County show off their new backpack donated by Tropical Shipping in last year’s school supply drive. (contributed)

Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County is hosting a school supply and backpack drive, from now through July 21, to benefit club children and keep them on track for academic success.

Every year, Boys & Girls Clubs works with community partners to send disadvantaged children to school prepared with the supplies they need to succeed. Community members can donate school supplies or host a supply and backpack drive in their neighborhood or office.

Suggested supplies include backpacks, composition books (wide rule), spiral notebooks, construction paper, copy paper, pencils, pens, color pencils and markers, crayons, highlighters, post-It notes, glue sticks, tape rolls, student scissors and other office supplies.

Donations of gift cards to office supply stores or retail vendors are also welcomed and will be used by the clubs to purchase needed supplies from school-issued lists.

For information and drop-off locations, visit www.bgcpbc.org or call 561-683-3287.

Nursery for newborn kittens expands

Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League this month is expanding its Neonatal Kitten Nursery, a facility that opened last summer to save lives of more newborn kittens that require 24-hour care.

The expansion is scheduled to open Monday, June 26.

With the expansion, scheduled to open Monday, June 26, the shelter will have additional space for the most at-risk orphans. The nursery can now hold up to 80 kittens and is staffed 24-hours a day, 7 days a week by employees of Peggy Adams as well as  volunteers – all specially trained in bottle-feeding and the unique care that is involved in nurturing neonates.

But Rich Anderson, Executive Director/CEO of Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, urged people who find newborn kittens to resist the urge to take them to a shelter.

“That is actually the last thing you should do,” he said. “Kittens less than four weeks old have little chance of survival if separated from their mothers and taken to a shelter…. No intervention is generally best until kittens can eat on their own.”

For information on what to do if you find kittens, visit PeggyAdams.org/found-kittens-resources.)

After receiving critical care in the nursery, the Peggy Adams kittens are placed with foster families who ready them for adoption. For more information about the Kitten Nursery or fostering, visit PeggyAdams.org or call 561.686.3663.

“Hello Sunshine” theme for West Palm gateway art

West Palm Beach will greet you with rays of morning sunshine, starting next year with the city’s latest Art in Public Places addition.

The city commission this week approved five gateway works of outdoor art, together titled “Hello Sunshine,” by West Coast art collective Aphidoidea.

Each of the city’s five commission districts will get its own cluster of yellow sun rays. Each will include the city’s logo, as well as an individual representation of its district.

The District 1 piece will be at 45th Street and Australian Avenue. District 2’s will be in a new roundabout at Cumberland Drive and Saratoga Road.

District 3’s work will be in the Okeechobee Boulevard median. District 4’s will be on the sidewalk at Northlake Boulevard and Grassy Waters Preserve. And in the South End, District 5’s will be either at Phipps Park or the intersection of S. Dixie Highway and Gregory Road, still to be determined.

Science center to add brain center, thanks to 100k donation

Rendering of the upcoming exhibit, “Journey Through the Human Brain” (Contributed by: Science Center)

This, from the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium:

The Stiles-Nicholson Foundation, headed by Science Center Board member Dr. David J. S. Nicholson, has made a $100,000 gift to the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium to name its recently-completed multipurpose center building.

The new 5,000-square-foot building will be called The Stiles-Nicholson STEM Education Center. It will serve as headquarters for several STEM science education programs as well as host School District senior staff meetings, meetings of the STEM Advisory Council and other related functions. Set between a large park meadow and a pond edge, the Stiles-Nicholson STEM Education Center has been designed to become the “hub of the hub” for the Science Center’s efforts to serve as the anchor coordinating institution for informal science education in Palm Beach County.

The education center features classroom environments suitable for workshops and creative spaces with 3D printers, robotics labs and computer coding and programming spaces.

The funds contributed by the Stiles-Nicholson Foundation to name this center will be added to funds already raised to construct the Science Center’s new permanent exhibit, Journey Through the Human Brain, a $2 million project in partnership with Florida Atlantic University’s newly-created Brain Institute, headed by Dr. Randy Blakely.

The Science Center’s new Journey Through the Human Brain exhibit will take a bottom-up approach to telling the story of the human brain, from the molecular and cellular level to the integrated circuitry that creates hopes, fears and memories. According to Science Center leadership, the goal is to break ground early next year on the exhibit which will be comprised of four galleries.

2) Dr. David J. S. Nicholson and Dr. Robert Avossa, Superintendent of Palm Beach County Schools, pose at a recent South Florida Science Center and Aquarium event (Photo: CAPEHART).

The Stiles-Nicholson Foundation was formed in 1992 in memory of William John Stiles and William Nicholson, the father and step-father of David John Stiles Nicholson, with the mission to improve and enhance the education of citizens to better understand the benefits of the free enterprise system and how best to cope and succeed in the real world.

 

Coming events: 4th on Flagler, block parties and “Forecast Extreme”

Fireworks light up the waterfront. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Fourth on Flagler, one of South Florida’s largest Independence Day events, returns to the waterfront Tuesday, July 4, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.. The free event will feature a military honor ceremony, larger-than-life games like human foosball and giant Jenga, as well as an art exhibition, live music, and an 18-minute fireworks display.

Guests can also tee-off on the tropical-themed Glow-Fore-It, a 9-hole glow-in-the-dark mini golf course along the Intracoastal Waterday.Children can also create their own life-size fairy tale using giant cut-outs of traditional storybook characters in StoryVille or engage in crafts and games. For a complete schedule, please visit: http://wpb.org/events.

Community members will gather for an in-depth discussion on the impact of the local opioid crisis Wednesday, June 28, at 5:30 p.m. Presented by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, featured speakers are State Attorney David Aronberg and Alexa Lee, Director of Programs at the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition. They will discuss the growing issue of opioids use in Palm Beach County and how the community can help.

The event takes place at the Federation, 4601 Community Drive.

The Teens Unite! Summer Block Party Series brings together teens from West Palm’s many neighborhoods to socialize and enjoy the summer in a positive environment. The series, free for young men and women ages 12-to-18, runs every Saturday night from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. through July 29. Teens can enjoy free food, a video game truck, DJ, basketball, talent shows, pool parties, and dance parties.

The June 24 block party takes place at The Salvation Army; 600 N. Rosemary Ave. July 1 it’s at De George Boys & Girls Club; 4105 Pinewood Ave. Student ID is required. A dress code of ‘no hoodies and no hats’ will be enforced. Parents are welcome. For more information, contact Kevin Jones at 561-822-1413.

The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium presents “Forecast Extreme” June 24, in which local amateur radio groups prepare for hurricane season with kid-friendly, interactive activities. Safety and weather experts will give presentations, and children will have the opportunity to make weather-related arts and crafts. Guests will be able to interact with local HAM radio operators and see how these operators communicate. The program is from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. at the science museum, 4801 Dreher Trail North.

All activities are included with paid Science Center admission. Adults are $15, children ages 3-12 are $11, seniors ages 60 and up are $13 and members are free. For information, call 561-832-1988 or visit http://www.sfsciencecenter.org.