City Wildflower Survey Scoring Misrepresentation

4

And the story continues…

 

From June, 2011 to October, 2011 the City accepted citizen input regarding preferred usage of the Wildflower property, but the City’s scoring of the survey’s results misrepresents the intent of most of the responses. A large number of responses were not scored by the City and most of the responses that were scored were incorrectly categorized. These two problems allowed the City Staff to present results of the survey as favoring a restaurant on the Wildflower site; whereas the survey results actually favor a public park on the site. Furthermore, now that the problems are made visible, some City Council members and City Staff are trying to dismiss the importance of the survey. This article describes these problems and provides an updated status. The problems are individually discussed to assist with understanding.

 

Problem 1 – Citizen Responses Not Scored

The City Staff’s scoring of the survey failed to include a relatively large number of citizen responses. Independent scoring of the responses indicates that about 20 valid citizen responses were not counted by the City Staff. Considering that the City presented the results of 61 responses, the 20 not counted represents an error of over 30%. In reviewing the type of responses not counted, the majority favored a park on the Wildflower site.

The short video in the following link describes this problem in more detail. The first video clip is from June, 2011 and is the City Staff inviting the citizens to respond to the survey. Note that the citizens were encouraged to provide input to the City through a number of different methods.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=No-i9MmTghU&feature=youtu.be

In the second portion of the video clip, the City Staff is disclosing that it only counted citizen responses provided through the City’s Wildflower web site. The only apparent reason for the City Staff misrepresenting the number of citizen responses submitted was to tilt the survey results to make it look like the citizens favored a restaurant on the Wildflower site when the survey results actually favored a park.

 

Problem 2 – Citizen Responses Not Scored Correctly

The categories the City Staff used when scoring the 61 responses was inappropriate and resulted in most of the citizen responses being misrepresented as favoring a restaurant on the Wildflower site; whereas, the intent of most of the responses actually favored a park. Following is what the City Staff presented at the October 18, 2011 Wildflower Workshop.

Passive Recreation (11)

Restaurant/Active Destination (45)

General Comments (3)

Sell Property for Residential Use (2)

 

The problem with this categorization is that it is impossible to determine how many citizens prefer a restaurant versus another use of the Wildflower site. Some of the Active Destination citizen suggestions in this category included: concessions, amphitheater or open stage areas, rental facilities, art shows and events, food trucks, boat and trailer parking, roller rink, shops and bike rentals. Bundling these uses with the category “Restaurant” gives the false impression that citizens favor a restaurant on the Wildflower site.

 

A public record request was made to the City in March, 2015 and resulted in 151 citizen responses to the City’s Wildflower Survey. Two independent citizens then scored the responses to check the City’s results and arrived at a much different conclusion than the City Staff. The last slide in the short video in the following link highlights in yellow the City Staff’s scoring of the responses as well as the scoring by two citizens.

https://youtu.be/b3uOBuXcOy0

The results of the citizen responses scored by intent (park versus restaurant) in the City’s Wildflower Survey clearly do not favor a restaurant on the Wildflower site.

 

Problem 3 – The Survey is Now Being Positioned by the City Staff as a Non-Survey

At the January 11, 2016 City Council meeting where the problems with the Wildflower Survey misrepresentation were discussed, the City Council circled the wagons around the City Staff and downplayed the importance of the survey. At the same meeting, the City Staff stated on the record that the Wildflower Survey is not a survey since the results are not “statistically tabulatable.” A problem with this statement is that the same City Staff member presented the statistically tabulated Wildflower Survey results at the October 18, 2011 City Wildflower Workshop. Following is a link to a brief video that includes clips of both presentations.

https://youtu.be/czZCAHxwCrs

Rows two and three in the last slide of the video include the statistical tabulation by two citizens in 2015. The citizens along with the City Staff in 2011 had no problems with calculations. It wasn’t until the misrepresentations by the City Staff were made visible in 2015, that the City Staff decided that the results were not “statistically tabulatable.” This plays into the hand of the City Council who is also now downplaying the significance of their Wildflower Citizen Survey, because of the misrepresentations.

 

 Summary

The City Wildflower Survey results presented by the City Staff clearly misrepresent the intent of the citizens who responded to the survey. Also, a significant number of responses favoring a park at the Wildflower site were not included in the City Staff’s statistical tabulation. Instead of acknowledging these problems and correcting them, the City Staff is declaring the survey to be something other than a survey because the results are not “statistically tabulatable.”

Most of the City Council seems willing to ignore the problems and is moving forward with plans for a Houston’s restaurant on the Wildflower site. While this is obviously a quid pro quo to campaign contributors, it also continues a bad precedent of providing no consequences for malfeasance or misfeasance by the City Staff.

 

 

 

 

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Jim Wood is a 25-year citizen of Boca Raton. Upon arriving in Boca from Arizona, Jim and his family had a house built in Broken Sound in the western section of the City. After the last of their three children left for college Jim and Trish downsized and relocated to east Boca, where they have lived for 18 years. His volunteering activities include serving eight years on an advisory board in the City. Jim is a computer engineer who advanced into executive positions with telecommunications companies Siemens and Lucent. He holds undergraduate degrees in mathematics and management, a master’s degree in computer engineering and an MBA. He is also a veteran who served four years on active duty with the United States Air Force. His interests include cycling (A1A), guitar (acoustic) and cooking (healthy comfort food). He is a member of the Boca Raton Bicycle Club and the FAU Alumni Association.

4 COMMENTS

  1. The following is an update summary from the City on the traffic study ordered for E Palmetto Pk Rd & NE 5th Ave

    – The Consultant, Calvin Giordano Inc. (CGI) has provided a summary which captures the public comments at the initial public meeting and categorizes them based on issue type relevant to this intersection. We have posted that information on the City’s website at http://www.myboca.us .

    – During the public comment collection, it was requested that the City perform a new set of traffic counts during peak season and for more than one day (to validate the existing traffic data). In response, we have scheduled the traffic counts to be taken during the next few weeks. This will ensure that we were past the holiday season, that school is back in, and the majority of people back into their routine.

    – Once CGI reviews the evaluates the new traffic counts, reviews that compiled comments, and analyzes the other information, they will generate some possible alternatives. Those will be brought forward to the City Council at a workshop.

    Overall, based on the holiday season and the capturing of the additional traffic counts, although the project continues to move forward, the project completion date anticipated in the scope of services for this project has been pushed back. At this point, we are anticipating that the discussion with the City Council will be scheduled in March. We anticipate a successful process that involves an opportunity for residents to review and make comments. We will continue to provide updates on the City’s website.

  2. The following is an explanation from the City regarding installation of new cyclone fencing around the Wildflower Property:

    Wildflower Fencing –

    The City’s fencing vendor is repairing the existing fence and replacing several gates for to better secure the property from the people and vehicles that have been entering and using the property. Specifically, the fencing vendor is: 1) replacing the broken gate at the 5th Avenue driveway, 2) replacing the gate on the Palmetto Park Road driveway and reinstalling the missing fencing between that gate and the bridge wall, and 3) repairing the holes/gaps in the fencing under the bridge (as well as reinstalling a missing gate and replacing some missing fencing sections.) The vendor is installing the same type of fencing as the existing fencing (black-colored plastic coated chain link fencing). The installation was started this week and should be completed next week. The cost for the installation of the gates and fencing is between $9,000 and $10,000.

  3. Wonder why the ‘Wildflower’ parcel has been off limits to the owners for so long, then it would behoove us to start thinking like a developer.
    Developer and realtor Glen Gromann, currently a member of our Planning and Zoning Board, brought forward the initiative to rezone the entire parcel to B1.
    Mr.Gromann’s comments to residents attending the meeting were, “It doesn’t mean it can’t be a park”. So why was the rezoning necessary, perhaps it was just ‘house cleaning’ … not unusual when it comes to B1 zoning.
    A developer would look to all available land when considering the Big Picture. We have the corner of NE 5th Ave, once home to Maxwell’s Chop House and we also have 1.25 acres of residential intracoastal property at 120 NE 5th Ave. Taken together, that’s quite an impressive chunk of land. I don’t doubt that potential purchases of these parcels have played into the stall tactics we have seen in the past six years – and not for the benefit of the residential community but for the development community.
    However, residents and visitors attempting to exit the barrier island using East Palmetto Park Road know how difficult that can be during much of the year and once over the bridge we become part of a conga line trying to make a right onto NE 5th Avenue.
    A third lane comprised of sections of the Wildflower and Maxwell’s Chop House could be used as a turning lane to ease congestion. Sadly that bites off much of our potential for urban greenspace, but for the welfare and safety of those attempting to exit the barrier island this might be the best solution.
    However, recent history of decision making on the part of our City Council would indicate that the welfare and safety of the community is not the first concern.
    It is interesting to note the obligations of and duties of city officials listed on the City website:
    ‘Implementation of the policies set by the City, and the enforcement of all City regulations and ordinances are the responsibility of the City Manager. The City Manager recommends to the City Council adoption of policies that the City Manager believes will benefit the health, safety and welfare of the community’.
    It might be time to add to the verbiage ‘residential community’ in place of the obvious deference shown to the ‘development community’.

  4. Why not have a place to launch non-motorized water craft, it is city property. The tax payers paid for this land, not Houston’s restaurant! I want to know who is getting the kick back, from Houston’s?

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