The long awaited Comprehensive Waterfront Study’s resident Visioning session was held at the downtown library Monday night.  The study is being performed by EDSA, a Fort Lauderdale consulting firm specializing in community land use relating to parks.  Interested residents brought energy and thought to the event proving the value of much needed citizen expression.

In a brief overview, EDSA has a proven track record having provided services to neighboring cities along our coast and nationally https://www.myboca.us/DocumentCenter/View/6258.

As planners, landscape architects and architects with environmental sensitivity, they strive to provide the best result with some sociology thrown in. Theirs is a logical approach:  In Boca’s case they listed our waterfront park inventory outlining each park’s attributes. After their initial physical inspection and evaluation, they developed a list of potentials for each park waiting to include the most important element – resident input.

Audience participants were taken through a few exercises providing the opportunity to identify individual wants and needs regarding use of our waterfront parks.  All aspects for recreation and boating were considered to include: sports, fishing, picnicking, civic events, boating and more.  Collection of interests was quick and easy netting out the most popular activities.  Additionally, each resident was given a card with four questions asking for a written responses.  Lastly, residents were asked to respond to: WHAT DOES COMMUNITY MEAN TO YOU?  Each person’s response was read aloud. This set an important objective – getting residents to focus on COMMUNITY. All questionnaires were gathered up for further analysis in support of EDSA’s assignment.

The Community question might seem to be a disjointed one when taking about parks, but parks are an expression of and a necessary element of a Community.  I would like to dwell on this one facet of the study.  Parks are a catalyst bringing us together in a natural and inviting setting where we can “SHARE” and further develop a significant element of Community and togetherness.  Responses were compelling: working name calling in newspapers and in direct mail pieces before the election is destructive.

Community comes from Latin word COMMUNIS meaning: “COMMON, PUBLIC, SHARED BY ALL OR MANY”.  Where did our community go, we had it at one time?  Why don’t we have it now?  Is it lost forever?  Boca suffers from the dysfunction of not taking stock in what we can and should do for each other.  Certain elements are one sided refusing to listen to residents.  Examples: those wanting to lease (sell) and develop ALL of our waterfront parks, a stated objective of our business leaders. And the worst example, those business people suing the City for allowing the public to vote 68% for how they want waterfront parks used.  It was the spirit of Community that allowed us to buy the land for our many parks back when we had a united community,  We have gone off the rails and it’s time to get back to moving forward together.  Perhaps more will come from the waterfront study than we imagined possible. Well designed, imaginative, inviting parks are a vehicle for promoting and preserving what we need at this moment, to once again be a COMMUNITY.