Boynton Beach town square report far from final

Palm Beach Post (FL), 2014-08-06

Aug. 06 -- BOYNTON BEACH -- The Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council presented proposals on Tuesday for Boynton Beach's town square re-development with the old high school building as part of the plan, just like most residents that partook in a May workshop hoped for.

But some commissioners still wanted to know: What would the area look like without the historic building?

"I'd like to compare apples to apples and oranges and oranges," said Commissioner Mack McCray .

"I think what we heard from the community is let's give this one more shot," said Marcela Camblor , a consultant with Treasure Coast , as to why her plans only included the building.

"The best way is to give us something to shoot for," McCray said. "I need something to compare it to."

The presentation was held at a public City Commission/Community Redevelopment Agency workshop at City Hall . The planning council will hold another public workshop on the 17-acre town square and then present a final report, which the city paid them $58,000 to do.

The 50 or so residents that attended a workshop in May held by the planning council all seemed to agree to save the 1927 high school and re-purpose it somehow. Camblor said that could be done in several ways: keep the entire building; keep the facade and rebuild a structure behind it; or reconstruct it to resemble the historic character.

Whatever is done to the building -- either to save it or knock it down -- will cost money.

Well, everything the planning council proposed will cost money.

To offset some of that, Camblor recommended a mixed use development of retail and residential with plazas and parks.

In addition, Camblor mentioned multi-level parking structures, buildings, on-street parking, relocating City Hall , relocating the police department, relocating the fire station, creating an Arts District and a Civic Campus and a walk-able area connecting all four blocks of town square.

She called it a "complete redo of this entire area."

The presentation brought attention to some outstanding issues besides the old high school: Is the police department going to be moved to High Ridge Road ? Where is the fire rescue station going to go? And what about Boynton Beach Boulevard and a need for wider sidewalks?

"It is your front door and what we say by front door is that your front door is the first impression for many people. Whatever you can do to improve those addresses that are your front door that are what project to others what the city is about," Camblor said. "I'm not saying here what you need to do, but anytime you are looking for retail, particularly looking for retail with (a) restaurant component, you want sidewalks."


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