Power of the purse: Gardens council to give city manager more control

Final vote upcoming on proposal to raise threshold for Palm Beach Gardens City Council review of contracts to $1.18 million from $65,000.

The Palm Beach Gardens City Council is on the verge of giving its city manager far more purchasing power than other top administrators in the county.

The proposal backed in October on first reading by the council would empower City Manager Ron Ferris to approve contracts for goods and services worth $1.18 million without council review, up from $65,000. 

Palm Beach County’s threshold is $200,000. In Jupiter, it’s $50,000. In Boca Raton and Boynton Beach, it’s $100,000. Delray Beach is $65,000.

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Appellate ruling favors county over Gardens on road-building

At stake: Who controls money developers pay for road improvements, Palm Beach Gardens or Palm Beach County?

An appellate court has rejected Palm Beach Gardens’ arguments in its fight with Palm Beach County over how to pay for growth from new development.

The ruling forces the city to resume collecting impact fees from developers for the county, which decides how to spend the money. 

It imperils the city’s new mobility fee program, which was designed to collect money from developers for projects determined by the city. 

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‘A launch pad for science:’ Wertheim’s $100 million gift to ignite UF Scripps

‘Not one dollar … will go up north,’ UF board chair Mori Hosseini says; aim is to raise $1 billion over 10 years.

When Dr. Herbert Wertheim was a young engineer working for NASA in the 1960s, he saw miracles take flight. 

Now he’s a billionaire who just gave $100 million to the University of Florida. And he sees Jupiter as the next Cape Canaveral.

“We have what I call ‘sciencenauts,’” he told dignitaries and scientists gathered Oct. 12 at the UF Scripps campus in Abacoa. “They’re going to help us solve health-care problems, not only when you’re sick, but my number one emphasis has been how do we keep people well.

“So let’s think about Jupiter as a launch pad like we think of Cape Canaveral. And this is gonna be a launch pad for science.”

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Proposal paves way for warehouses at former racetrack

Palm Beach International Raceway owners seek County Commission’s blessing on Jan. 11 for updated 2.1 million-square-foot warehouse plan.

The conversion of a beloved local raceway to warehouses is back on track after the property owners eliminated a major hurdle that forced them to make an unscheduled pit stop in April.

The owners of the shuttered Palm Beach International Raceway west of Jupiter are moving forward on their own, without construction giant Portman Industrial, which pitched a 2.1 million-square-foot warehouse development before angry racing fans packed a meeting April 7 to block it.

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Northlake widening study pits county vs city. Again.

Palm Beach Gardens City Manager tells council that Palm Beach County engineer abruptly backed out of a meeting to share information about county’s $400,000 study of eight-laning Northlake Boulevard east of the Beeline.

Palm Beach County wants to spend $400,000 to study eight-laning Northlake Boulevard from Military Trail to Beeline Highway. 

Palm Beach Gardens and its many homeowners associations along the six-lane roadway want no such thing. 

But the potential to talk out their differences blew up publicly last week when County Engineer David Ricks refused to attend a meeting with Palm Beach Gardens City Manager Ron Ferris.

“I got a phone call from David Ricks, who said he was advised from higher ups at the administration level he is not to meet with the city of Palm Beach Gardens,” Ferris told City Council members Thursday night.

Continue readingNorthlake widening study pits county vs city. Again.

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. 

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Trump Corner yields to DeSantis Depot amid costly turn-lane construction

County to shell out $1.17 million for about a fifth of an acre and to reconfigure Publix parking lot.

The county has agreed to pay more than $1.1 million for the narrow strip of land needed to add a right turn lane on the well-known Trump Corner rally spot at PGA Boulevard and Military Trail, nearly doubling the project cost. 

Meanwhile, the Trump rallies that thrust the corner into the spotlight both before and after the 2020 election have been silenced by dirt mounds and barricades, but not for long, organizer Willy Guardiola vowed. 

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New race track? Rejected PBIR bidder to announce Martin County site

Formula Race Promotions, with Indy champ Danny Sullivan, says it will reveal location of massive complex in early June.

A racing group that includes one time Indy 500 champion Danny Sullivan says it will unveil plans in June for a massive racetrack complex on 900 acres in Martin County to replace the now-shuttered Palm Beach International Raceway.

The group, Formula Race Promotions headed by Al Guibord, tried but failed to buy the 175-acre PBIR, which is under contract to warehouse-builder Portman Industrial. 

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Judge puts brakes on Gardens mobility fee

Judge Gillman grants injunction requiring city to turn over millions from developer payments; appeal possible and full trial awaits.

Palm Beach Gardens’ effort to pay for growth through a mobility fee suffered a setback Thursday when a Palm Beach County Circuit Court judge ruled that the city’s approach violated state law. 

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Who will represent Palm Beach Gardens? Are two state House members better than one?

Is it better to have two state House members and two state senators answering to the same community? Or does that water down representation? Gardens will soon find out.

Some of the biggest western communities in Palm Beach Gardens, including PGA National, Mirasol and Avenir, would be severed from the city and lumped into a sprawling state House district spanning the Glades and The Acreage, under a House map approved Feb. 3. 

Those same communities, plus Old Palm and Ballenisles, would be separated from the city in a Senate map change that would replace the city’s lone state senator, Bobby Powell, with two. 

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