Emails show how county helped racetrack-to-warehouse conversion

County staff moved quickly to help landowner avoid zoning obstacles but never publicly told the commission or the public why.

Last May, Palm Beach County staff rushed to avoid a legal challenge over the zoning board vote that blocked warehouses at the former Palm Beach International Raceway site on Beeline Highway west of Jupiter.

Top county officials from multiple departments responded to urgent requests from county attorneys for speedy action to get a seemingly mundane item before county commissioners at their May 26 zoning meeting. 

While appearing innocent, the action would clear the way for the conversion of the racetrack to a warehouse complex by removing a potential hurdle for the developer — an action staff never made public or clear to commissioners. 

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After anonymous text campaign, city manager spending threshold cut in half

City Manager Ron Ferris defends proposal: ‘It isn’t about power. It’s trying to find the most efficient and effective way to deliver our services.’

In a debate shaped by an anonymous texting campaign to block “a dangerous plan” that “puts tax dollars at risk,” the Palm Beach Gardens City Council this month sharply reduced the city manager’s proposal to increase his spending authority.

The council cut City Manager Ron Ferris’ proposal in half, putting the threshold for staff to approve contracts for goods and services at 0.25 percent of the city’s budget, which amounts to $590,000, half of the $1.18 million Ferris sought. The threshold is still nearly 10 times the existing $65,000 limit and far higher than neighboring cities.

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Long-awaited State Road 7 project will wait five years longer

West Palm Beach’s litigation prompts state to withdraw $80 million scheduled to be spent in 2023 to build connector between Okeechobee Boulevard and Northlake.

The state had $80 million on hand to begin construction next year of State Road 7 from Okeechobee to Northlake boulevards.

But on Thursday, state officials will slam the brakes on the controversial project by formally asking local officials to sign off on a shocking twist: Delay it at least five years. 

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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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No Gardens election in March: Reed, two new members handed seats

With uncontested elections of Chelsea Reed, Bert Premuroso and Dana Middleton, Republicans will hold council majority.

The March 2023 Palm Beach Gardens municipal election is over without voters casting a single ballot.

Incumbent Chelsea Reed, former Councilmember Bert Premuroso and Dana Middleton will take office in March after no one filed to run against them during the two-week qualifying period, which closed Wednesday.

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Despite Wayne Gretzky, Gardens shot down hockey rink proposal

Internal documents reveal Palm Beach Gardens’ concerns over missed deadlines, bond issue.

Hockey great Wayne Gretzky expressed support for building two hockey rinks in Palm Beach Gardens before the project suffered a devastating crosscheck from city officials.

Gretzky, who recently bought a home in Gardens, had expressed interest in using the $43 million sports complex for his youth hockey school before the city terminated its relationship with the nonprofit behind the project. 

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Gardens cancels $43 million indoor sports complex

Proposal would have brought two ice-skating rinks, gymnasium to North County District Park

City officials have canceled a deal three years in the making to bring a $43 million sports complex with two ice rinks to a Palm Beach Gardens park, claiming that they have better, unspecified offers to pursue.

The termination of the contract with the nonprofit Palm Beach North Athletic Foundation came in private correspondence from the city manager and only became public when raised during the comment portion of the Nov. 3 City Council meeting by Councilmember Mark Marciano.

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Gardens election could be decided without voting

Three candidates lined up to run for three seats; deadline to file is Nov. 30.

The makeup of the Palm Beach Gardens City Council could be determined in the next two weeks without a single vote being cast.

Three seats are open for an election scheduled for March 14. Three people, including Mayor Chelsea Reed, have opened campaign accounts and begun raising money to run. But so far none have drawn challengers.

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Fast fix is no fix for PGA backups at I-95

Work to start Nov. 9 but FDOT engineers concede $10 million project will do little to ease backups on PGA Boulevard by the Gardens Mall.

If you drive west on PGA Boulevard to get on Interstate 95 during the afternoon rush hour, you know the problem.

Cars back onto PGA from the ramp to the highway, starting where the ramp from PGA merges with a ramp from Alternate A1A. 

A $10 million project to improve the southbound traffic flow, set to start Nov. 9 and last more than a year, may make it easier for motorists once they reach the highway. But, as project managers made clear at a launch meeting Thursday, the improvements will do little to ease the backups that bring westbound traffic near the Gardens Mall on PGA to a near standstill every afternoon. 

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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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