Friday, July 9, 2010

Deerfield Beach Cove Shopping Center Still Iffy?????

The pre-bid meeting for the Cove Shopping Center Parking Lot Improvements was held at the Royal Fiesta today. The contractors who passed the initial screening were present to hear about the project. The 3 who were chosen to be there today were picked on the basis of their phase-in plans; this meeting was to give them a look at the center and some oral guidelines.

Keven Klopp, the city CRA director, opened the meeting by saying that after picking the low bid, it would be up to the CRA Board to OK it. He said the bidder would have to convince the residents, businesses and the board that there will be as little disruption to business as possible if the project was going to go ahead.

Oops, I thought, right away there is a red flag. This was a very lukewarm introduction. OMG! THIS PROJECT WAS AGREED ON IN 2005!!! Approved by the CRA Board, the City Commission and the majority of businesses and residents of the area, and NOW we hear it might still not go through. IT SHOULD ALREADY BE DONE!!! What’s the problem? The lot will be done in sections and there will be a shuttle to ferry customers from parking area to the stores or offices. There will be at least 90 parking spots open at all times.

Sure, getting 18 owners and 25 businesses to agree on any plan is next to impossible. Getting Business owners to look past the year long disruption of the lot to the benefit of having a beautiful center seems to be also not possible.

BUT, this is a city owned lot; this is right smack in the eye of every person on the way to the beach. It is a sin it was allowed to get to this point, and because the lot was not maintained by the city properly in the past it will take more time to renovate it. BUT we deserve to have a beautiful shopping center gateway to the beach.

During the meeting there were a few warnings to the contractors that the project might be delayed, and that even though they agree to hold their prices for 90 days it could go to 6 months and might go to bid again. The contractors looked a little sick, probably thinking that they were going to do a whole lot of work with no guarantee that the job would even be done. They were most unhappy campers.

Commissioner Joe Miller was also visibly upset to think that the project might be put on hold. He mentioned complaints he was hearing. He is solidly behind the idea and doesn’t want any delays.

I blame a few vocal and most likely highly connected self serving owners or residents. But, if this is held up or cancelled the commissioners are the only ones to blame. They have the power to get it going, or to drag their feet while making lame excuses about the economy and businesses. The same excuse would be used if business were booming as it is now when business is slow.

This simply doesn’t wash.

If this project is held up it is because certain commissioners are playing favorites, forgetting that it was the MAJORITY of residents in the neighborhood, and the MAJORITY of businesses who designed the future direction of the center in workshop after workshop. Forgetting just who it is they represent.

If a few are unhappy, well that’s life. What is best for the city is what counts. Get it done now in order to attract new business to the center, and to increase traffic to the shops that are there. If that takes some oomph to get the recalcitrant businesses to sign on, so be it. If that takes a few months of making do, so be it, the payoff in the long run will be huge. The faster we get started the faster it will get done.

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