This Week in Lake Park

Below you will find the links to this week’s agenda items.

Although it hasn’t been listed on the town calendar, judging by the agendas there will be a CRA meeting this week before the commission meeting.

Here is the CRA Agenda.The minutes of the last meeting are included along with the presentation slides that were discussed. Worth a look over. One of the items up for discussion again is the TIF Interest.

The other item is a discussion of the property at 800 Park Avenue, formerly used as an art gallery. After closing the gallery just a couple of months ago, the town STAFF (according to the summary provided in the agenda), is telling us that it actually accomplished it’s goal (what!?) and so they want to continue that success (so it seems) by leasing the building and restricting it to an arts tenant. Interesting just isn’t the right word. Here is the summary from the agenda:

The STAFF suggests leasing the building for what equates to between $22,000 and about $26,000 a year. The debt service on the building each year is $36,000. They do not recommend selling the building. Why? Where will the remaining $10k to $14k a year come from to pay the debt service? Is our town in the business of acquiring property and being a landlord now? And more importantly why continue with this, especially since there does not seem to be a demand for it? I can appreciate a few individuals’ having the dream and desire for the town to be an arts district, but if the market didn’t support this with their business, and the gallery had to close due to lack of funds, why continue to prop up this up with town’s resources? A lot of time, money and energy seems to be lavished on this. Why?

Commission Meeting

Here is the regular Commission Meeting Agenda.

Several items are on the agenda. Please take the time to look over the meeting minutes for accuracy, esp. if you spoke and made public comments.

The Irrigation Grant Agreement for $52,200.00 will be discussed and is up for approval. This is for Flagler Drive between Palmetto Drive and West Jasmine Drive.

This improvement is more than welcome. This is a main town thoroughfare. However, please read the conditions of this grant. I have only had time to briefly scan the conditions, etc. and will go back today and give it another look.

Whose responsibility is the upkeep of our town?

The concern here is why are we going after grant funds to tackle this basic town project? Why does our town not have the funds to maintain medians? Half the time, much of the problem with the medians is a lack of general mowing and edging. I know the sprinklers are a problem. I just hope that once they take the time and spend the money to fix these up that they follow through and take care of it with the care they give to the Town Hall and Police Department and CRA properties.

Recently the town manager suggested that $40,000.00 was discovered and was being put toward grant money for a new restaurant on Park Avenue. However, long before the issue of the gallery closing and the new restaurant coming in came to the public, these median issues have been a source of town concern. Of course, the manager and her staff had been courting the restaurant all along without our knowledge. The question stands: Why is a restaurant more deserving of town funds than maintenance of a residential town area? Instead of spending our funds, we have to go and ask for grants to do what the town should be doing. Then we have to accept the conditions that come with it.

Mudslinging?

Recently in the comments, someone indicated that a line by line review of what the town is doing is not valuable and that that it is mudslinging. Hmmm. I guess they would prefer that residents be useful idiots. Isn’t that why the agendas and details are provided, so residents can look them over and see what their town is up to? The commenter stated that we do not understand how government works. Actually, we understand quite well how government works these days and we find it unsatisfactory in many ways. When something is wrong, it’s best to take care of it, rather than let the sickness fester. They would like for us to take what they say and just do it without looking into the details. You have to wonder, why?

Case in point: The town STAFF seeks after grants that come loaded down with requirements with all sorts of hidden as well as obvious conditions. This is precisely why we read the items line by line. We don’t buy the premise that whatever is worked into their “free money”  goodies is going to be good for us. All one needs to do is to look at what has been done with grants in this town in the past and see that it is not good for our town overall.

Grant Conditions

This new grant also has all sorts of “low income” stipulations within.

General Conditions 1. Opportunities for Residents states that the project will not discriminate on the basis of race, gender or financial status and yet goes on to insist that the project is for low and very low income residents and that preference (basically) should be given to lower income persons for training and employment on this project and that minority owned/women owned business should be sought for contracts. How is this equal opportunity for all? Sounds like discrimination to me. It’s kind of laughable, except that it’s so sad. Affirmative action doesn’t work. This is the problem with our town’s government and this whole constant grant money grab, it is forcing us into their mold. It needs us to be poor and needy so it can continue its revenue streams.

The particulars are important to watch in each grant, for sure, but it’s the overall idea and premise that are faulty to begin with. This is what we do understand about government. It is trying to pick and choose winners. It is trying to create something unnatural. This is also seen in the CRA. At the last CRA meeting, business owner after business owner paraded in, in a rather fakey-forced show to give the appearance that the CRA is needed and valuable.  Person after person came up and said that the CRA helped them through the process of setting up a business and filling out forms and knowing what to do and how to start a business.

Picking Winners and Losers

What are people doing entering into business without the ability, finances and knowledge to do so? It was unbelievable watching all these people admit they had no idea how to run a business but the CRA brought them in and set them up with grant money and then helped them do what they had no idea how to do. And people wonder why we question what is going on here! Is it any wonder our downtown is not doing well? We had a woman on the board of the CRA wanting restrictions put into place so that only a certain number of types of businesses be allowed there on Park Avenue. Really? Is this the role of government now to stop the free market? Whatever happened to letting the market decide? Competition weeds out the failures and proves what is valuable. Aren’t these the people who believe in survival of the fittest? Then why the constant propping up of those who are not fit?

I think we know plenty about how government works, and we have clearly seen how it is working (or rather, not) in Lake Park. A line by line review of everything this town does is necessary, but again, more than that, we need to remember the premise. Begin with the big picture first. We need to question why we are we even doing these things in the first place.

So far the items in this grant proposal which deserve a look in my estimation are:

The first few general conditions about who should have a part in this project and who it is for are important. It’s interesting that we are an urban entitlement county and city, and these projects are often based on us proving we are low income and needy. There is little incentive for our town to prosper when a great amount of its income is generated by us being “poor”, “minorities”, “women”, etc. They have to continue to coddle what allows them to meet the qualifications to get funds. This seems to be basically at the heart of everything our town does.

The Irony

Does anyone else find it ironic that we pay the town STAFF liberally to ensure that we remain a low-income entitlement area? I guess the key here is “liberal”.

General condition, number 14 . It states that the town will implement a Citizen Participation Plan to keep residents informed about the project. I would be interested to see what this is and how it works.

Exhibit A

1. This states that the town is responsible to hire a consultant (a Florida Professional Engineer)  at our own cost to provide design services and create plans for specifications for the improvements. How much is this going to cost the town?

Exhibit A – section K, I

There is mention here of something called, Section 3 requirements – the exhibit states that information on Section 3 may be requested from HCD. The section 3 clause must be included in all solicitation for every project. This seems to be all about making sure that this benefits low income persons and that it gives preference to low income persons to do the work. So what is it?  

What is 24CFR part 135? All subcontractors must comply with this, but it is not spelled out.

There are requirements about labor organizations being informed about the project.

Section K, II

D. Environmental review costs by the county may be charged to the project budget identified above. How much does that take from the amount awarded?

There is also something else I can’t find at the moment about how they can add other conditions to this later. Be on the look out for that.

That’s all I have time for, so please read this agreement through yourself and know who your town STAFF is and why they find the need to go through all of this to fix some sprinklers and lay some sod in our town medians.

Flagler looking South East from Ilex.

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