|Posted by Anne Siren on January 2, 2013 at 2:50 PM|
By Judy Wilson
Deerfield Beach – 2012 brought a new sense of amicability to the city commission and an apparent efficiency in government which led to fewer commission meetings in the last quarter of the year.
Residents also saw the completion of a major upgrade to the city, the new amenities at the fishing pier.
2012 is notable because achievement trumped acrimony and, midway through, commissioners tamped down their criticism of each other and the staff.
When it comes to the year’s successes, the ongoing improvements made by the Community Redevelopment Agency [CRA] take center stage.
The $5 million construction of the fishing pier entrance, restaurant, restroom, bait shop and observation deck was completed earlier this month. This CRA project encountered a few snags and went over its original budget, but the result is public oceanfront space that can’t be matched along this coast.
Securing a vendor for the restaurant, however, proved to be complicated. After the bid proposal was reworked, the potential vendors had their bids opened and rated. Two filed protests, and when that was settled, the commission deadlocked on the lease holder.
Another meeting resolved that question, but the vendor not chosen filed a protest which was denied last week by the commission. Presumably, contract negotiations will now go forward and what promises to be first class food service will be available in a few months. In the meantime, the “T” at the end of the pier suffered damage in Tropical Storm Sandy and awaits repairs which may be months in coming. But most of the pier’s 935 feet are operational.
The CRA put the finishes touches to the parking lot upgrades in The Cove Shopping Center and turned its attention to developing Sullivan Park into a recreational area with a marine theme. The project is being jump started to take advantage of a grant from the Florida Inland Navigational District and will be financed by a $4 million bond issue. Also ready to go are infrastructure improvements – paving, drainage, lighting – in the residential area known as Cove Gardens between the shopping center and the Publix Shopping Center. This too is a CRA project.
One initiative that did not succeed was upgrades to the main beach parking lot. While staff thought a small amphitheatre and some permanent seating would enhance the area’s value as a performance venue, the public wasn’t so sure and those plans have been shelved.
Similarly an enhancement to Constitution Park, a small stage for performances, was shot down by the board that controls the Deer Creek Homeowners’ Association.
The commission spent considerable time early in the year redrawing the zoning rules for industrial acreage in the city’s NW sector. The result pleased residents who live in Independence Bay and The Waterways because certain land uses such as junk yards, metal shredding operations and bio-medical waste facilities were eliminated from the code.
An issue that found wide support this year was the “All In” recycling program which provided homeowners with rolling bins for their recyclables as well as bonus points, redeemable at local businesses.
In the good guys department, the Deerfield Beach Kiwanis Club, collaborating with Scholastic Books, Inc., agreed to fund a reading room at Deerfield Park Elementary School, the first of its kind in the country.
The Broward Sheriff’s Department did its share of good work too. In October it held its first banquet recognizing dozens of “community heroes” whose volunteer efforts make this city a better place to live. And using money from the Law Enforcement Trust Fund, the local BSO partnering with FAU, endowed full scholarships to the university for three worthy Deerfield Beach students. The concept was lauded by FAU President Dr. Mary Jane Saunders for being a first.
Sheriff Al Lamberti came to town in November to announce the arrest of nine youth football coaches on gambling charges. Although one local coach was among those being held, the city was lauded for initiating Level 2 back ground checks for volunteers working with kids on public property which took some other questionable people off the fields.
The city tightened its regulations making it much more difficult for ‘for-profit’ organizations to operate here.
On a positive note, in April this city completed its “stimulus” project, construction of the Dixie Highway Flyover built with $40 million in federal funds. This improvement to Dixie Highway came after 25 years of planning and re-planning by state road department officials stymied each time by lack of money.
In May, the DB Housing Authority Board of Directors filled a vacancy created when longtime director Pam Davis left the city in January to work in Gainesville. Davis’s replacement , Nadine Jarmon who came here from New Orleans, has kept the agency out of the headlines.
As Father Time tears the last page from the 2012 calendar, the New Year Babe has politics on its mind. With the national election and all its SNAFUS in Florida still a vivid memory, voters here will return to the polls in March to decide on two commissioners and a mayor. One seat, District 3 serving Crystal Lake and Century Village, is vacant due to term limits, leading to speculation as to who will run there. Both the mayor and the District 4 commissioner have said they will seek re-election.