During the first week in May our City Council Members along with City Managers and Department Heads gathered for a three day “2016 Strategic Planning Session”.

 There Was One Major Miss

That miss was from us, the residents.  It was disappointing to see only a very small handful of citizens show up to observe our city leadership publicly at work.  Watching our staff and elected officials in action puts into perspective the lofty and numerous decisions that they are faced with.  The opportunity to observe this ‘public goal setting’ session provides insight as to how our leadership sets a course for our City’s future. Whether you agree or disagree, it is an opportunity like none other to have a window into personalities and conversation we the residents rarely get to view.

Here is the final priorities/goals that came out of the planning session:

TOP PRIORITIES:

City Campus Master Plan/Evaluation Report – All agreed City Hall, Community Center, Police Department city complex need major updating and expansion to bring it into this millennium and represent our city well.

Wildflower Property Decision – This public owned property has sat vacant and gated off to the citizens close to seven years. The city is currently in negotiation with Hillstone Restaurant Group.  There is a Citizens Petition being circulated to get the future decision for this property on the the ballot for a vote of the public in the August 2015 ballot. Discussion/decision will be forthcoming.

Comprehensive Waterfront Plan – The community leaders will take an in-depth look and consult with outside sources as how to make the most of City owned waterfront property focusing on boating, water activities, recreation, restaurants etc.

20th Street Conceptual Master Plan – Treasure Coast Regional Planning has been hired ($25,000) to analyze and bring forward a conceptual plan. The goal is to create a vibrant ‘college district’ that will have charm that welcomes students and adults alike. It was expressed that a dorm row is not the ultimate goal.

Lake Wyman Park – The waterfront section of this park is presently in disrepair. There is future potential for canoeing, kayaking and boat docks. The possibility for county funds to help renovation is a strong possibility.

Beach & Parks District: Agreement – The relationship with the City and the B & P District has been recently strained. The leadership would like to move forward with an improved relationship. The City hopes to attain a global or master agreement that applies to all Beach & Parks District and City partnership properties and parks (in lieu of separate agreements for each property).

HIGH PRIORITIES:

Downtown Traffic Alternative Study – There were options put forward for consideration of widening NW and SW 4th Ave downtown as well as the possibility of building an overpass at Dixie Hwy. These are the beginning of a discussion relating to options that would help reduce traffic. On June 13, the Council will hear results of the city’s $50,000 downtown traffic study. Considering a parking study is also part of the plan.

Downtown Design Tool/Pattern Book – The Interim Design Guidelines (IDG), originally a six month plan to transition to the Pattern Book for downtown design has now been in effect for approximately six years.  The leadership clearly sees the need to move forward.  The question will be, what does the Pattern Book contribute to our city in  future development?  Can new and updated guidelines be incorporated into the 4035 ordinance, which is presently the ruling ordinance for all building in downtown Boca?

Red Reef Park Master Plan – Revitalizing Red Reef  Park, which they stated as currently being underutilized. Ideas will be addressed for the potential of more water and other activities.

Downtown Open Space Policy – A recent in-depth study of ‘Open Space’ in downtown projects, has led to more conversation of the vision for the appeal of downtown. Going forward there will be details presented on open space and public realm.

Florida Atlantic University Campus – Open communication with the University regarding Town & Gown relationship. FAU provides the City with Campus Master Plan every 5 years. The plan includes data and analysis for the university’s expected growth (new buildings, new roads, expected enrollment etc.) Impacts of the campus growth are then analyzed  regarding city water, sewer, storm water, drainage, fire rescue, solid waste, parks and recreations and traffic/transportation which determines financial impact on the city.

Rental Housing Registration and Inspection – The introduction to the rental registration program will be coming forward this summer. There is a need to have single family rental properties registered with the City.  The concept has been in development and will be presented at a workshop this summer.

Authors Note: With the conversation of open space to enhance the public realm on the table, I for one am looking forward to the opportunity for Public Green Space and Art in Public Spaces to be seriously considered as an addition to downtown development.  Up to this point it seems to have been an oversight. However,  I am hopeful it will be considered as a component.