Transportation panel picks interim director, rips ‘tortured’ selection process as ‘debacle’

Just seven viable candidates apply for $200,000-a-year job after national search.

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Thursday July 21, the full board of the Transportation Planning Agency voted unanimously to hire Valerie Neilson as executive director. Commissioner Maria Marino was absent.

It’s not often that a public-sector job paying nearly $200,000 attracts just seven viable candidates after a national search. It’s even rarer that two of the three finalists are dismissed outright after vigorous, public questioning.

But that’s where the five-member panel selecting the next person to head the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency, which oversees billions in transportation projects countywide, found itself Thursday afternoon.

The panel, featuring two north county representatives — Palm Beach Gardens Mayor Chelsea Reed and Palm Beach County Commissioner Maria Marino — waffled between selecting the agency’s interim director, who almost got the job in December without a search, or leaving the agency in limbo for months by reposting the job. 

Continue reading “Transportation panel picks interim director, rips ‘tortured’ selection process as ‘debacle’”

$350 million at stake: County to consider borrowing for affordable housing, the environment

Are residents willing to put up $200 million to correct the housing imbalance? Would they support $150 million for water resources? County commissioners to discuss Tuesday.

Palm Beach County has never been reluctant to spend large sums of taxpayer money to tackle huge issues. 

Voters approved $100 million bonds twice in the 1990s, once to buy environmentally sensitive land and a second time to buy south county farmland. 

Without voter approval, county commissioners shelled out $269 million in 2006 to land The Scripps Research Institute and $87 million more to bring Germany’s Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience to Jupiter. 

But borrowing $350 million in one fell swoop? That’s what commissioners will contemplate at a 9:30 a.m. March 29 workshop.

Continue reading “$350 million at stake: County to consider borrowing for affordable housing, the environment”

Fix for PGA flyover logjam on fast track

A $7.2 million infusion from the American Rescue Plan moves up construction at PGA Boulevard and Interstate 95 by two years.

View post to subscribe to site newsletter.

The daily traffic snarl on PGA Boulevard at Interstate 95 took a significant step toward easing Thursday with the act of a local transportation planning agency.

State plans to improve traffic flow on the perpetually stalled southbound I-95 entrance ramp moved up two years with an infusion of $7.2 million from the American Rescue Plan approved by Congress in March.

Continue reading “Fix for PGA flyover logjam on fast track”

North county growth: UF now holds key to 70 acres at Alton

Palm Beach County donated the land to Scripps Florida in 2006 to cement deal to bring Scripps to Abacoa.

View post to subscribe to site newsletter.

Second of two parts

It started as a deal-sweetener to ensure that Scripps Florida would be built at Abacoa.

Now the vacant 70 acres at Alton in Palm Beach Gardens could become a key piece of a deal worth hundreds of millions to convert Scripps Florida into a branch of the University of Florida.

Continue reading “North county growth: UF now holds key to 70 acres at Alton”

County stops stopping Gardens’ stoplight

Lawsuit could be averted as Palm Beach County agrees to accept Bay Hill Estates stoplight, with conditions.

Palm Beach County relented Wednesday in its opposition to a stoplight on Northlake Boulevard outside Bay Hill Estates.

A week after Palm Beach Gardens threatened to sue, the county said it still didn’t believe the light is warranted but it acknowledged a 2016 agreement “inadvertently” gave Gardens the power to decide, as Gardens City Attorney Max Lohman had insisted.

Continue reading “County stops stopping Gardens’ stoplight”

Railroad quiet zones two years away in north county

Faster Brightline trains raise specter of more deaths even as quiet zones two years away.

Railroad quiet zones are coming to Palm Beach Gardens and north county. 

But not until 2023, at the earliest. And not without some risk.

The sounds of silence won’t break out over north county any earlier than 2023, officials say, even though the $2.2 million needed to pay for more gates and other safety features at 26 crossings is in hand. 

That’s because the final testing of safety measures can’t start until the Brightline passenger service completes construction on a second set of tracks, not just in Palm Beach County but all the way to Orlando. That $2.7 billion job is not scheduled to be done until the final months of 2022. 

Continue reading “Railroad quiet zones two years away in north county”

‘County to the left of me, Gardens to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you’ – Song of the Developers

Palm Beach County’s threat to go after developers ups ante in road impact fee dispute with Palm Beach Gardens.

A long-simmering city-county feud spilled into the business community Tuesday as Palm Beach County commissioners weighed a proposal to slap liens on Palm Beach Gardens developers for failing to pay fees they say they’ve already paid. 

At issue is continued growth, business representatives said. If developers following city rules are punished by the county, they’ll go elsewhere. 

“This will create a black eye for us,” said Michele Jacobs, president and chief executive of the influential business group, the Economic Council of Palm Beach County.

continue reading