|Posted by Anne Siren on January 4, 2013 at 2:15 PM|
Deerfield Beach – Five years after encouraging his neighbors to make improvements to their island community, Mark Dreyer can point with pride to some accomplishments.
Garbage cans and bulk refuse that had littered the landscape have disappeared behind hedges and walls, an active Crime Watch program is in place, some potholes have been filled, the pocket park at SE 10 Street has been landscaped, doggie stations installed, and dues from the Deerfield Beach Island Community Association [DBICA] brought Thanksgiving and Christmas to less fortunate families.
Now, with 200 paying members and some money to spend, the DBICA is looking for a beautification project east of the Intracoastal Waterway. Possible projects will be the topic of the Jan. 17 DBICA meeting at the Community Presbyterian Church.
Dreyer and his wife Dolly moved here from Plantation Acres in 2009, choosing a townhome one block from the beach. They had considered both Boca Raton and Delray Beach when they moved east but chose Deerfield Beach for its “village feel” and its diversity.
”You can’t beat the location and we’ve got characters out here. We’ve got surfers, and we’ve got early birds and everyone in between,” Dreyer said.
Almost immediately Dreyer set out to increase his neighbors’ awareness of some obvious problems: garbage cans left for days in the swales, exposed dumpsters.
Most things were resolved through better enforcement of the codes, but changing the code to require garbage cans and bulk pickups be stored out of sight has created a huge improvement. Working with Sgt. Floyd Baker who heads up code enforcement here has been very effective, Dreyer said.
“We live in a beautiful community [and] enforce the codes. Success breeds more success and educating residents about the rules is an important part of the process,” Dreyer said.
Approaching problems with the backing of an association rather than an individual is also more effective, Dreyer believes. “An association has more clout in its relationship with the city.”
He thinks other neighborhoods would prosper if they had a community organization to “reset expectations, raise the bar,” he says of attempts to make improvements.
There are 2,000 residences on the “Island,” the area between the Intracoastal and the ocean. A commercial real estate broker and manager, Dreyer has worked up the profile of his neighborhood: half are full-time residents, half are snowbirds.
Of the snowbirds, half of them come not from out of state, but from western Broward County. More snowbirds are members of the Community Island Association than full-time residents, a fact that surprised Dreyer until he realized that the association offers these part time citizens representation they would not have otherwise.
Dreyer acknowledges the huge contribution of the Community Redevelopment Agency [CRA] which has financed improvements to the beach area: drainage, sidewalk pavers, turtle lighting, the Hillsboro Blvd. streetscape, pedestrian crosswalks and most recently the refurbished fishing pier.
He contributed to the CRA’s development plan, acting as a consultant and identifying potential real estate buys.
Despite the progress that has come to his beach community in the last few years, Dreyer knows there is still much to be done especially in the area north of Northeast Second Street where older, rental units proliferate. A beautification project outside the scope of the association but one close to his heart is to see several old houses on north A1A rehabbed, perhaps as art galleries. “It’s time to step it up there,” he said.
Everyone living on the Island is welcome to the DBICA meetings. City staff including City Manager Burgess Hanson will attend the Jan. 17 meeting. On Feb. 21, the topic will be sea turtle conservation and expert Richard Whitecloud is the speaker.
On Mar.21, diving off shore reefs is the discussion and on Apr. 18, The Rev. Dennis Andrews of Community Presbyterian Church will be the speaker.
The association is not just about serious matters. It is about fun, too. The Dreyers hosted a holiday party in their tropical backyard last month and in April, members will gather for the annual picnic. And for those who love country music, Dreyer has put his own words to Toby Keith’s song, “I Love This Bar.”
“I love this town,” he says.
For more information on the DBICA, and all the words to the song, visit the website DBICA.com.