Thursday, November 11, 2010

What do the residents want for Deerfield Beach's beach parking lot?

 The Main Beach parking lot is a topic of discussion again. It seems that every time we get new people in the city they just itch to come up with some plan for redoing the beach parking lot. The latest is from the CRA meeting.

Because of the budget problems the only place in the city that has money is the CRA* budget. So, because it is there, I guess it is burning a hole in the city pockets. It seems borrowing against its (possible) future revenue doesn’t faze our commission.

The CRA money has enabled the city to do some nice things; the city redid the beach area, side-walks, lights etc. Hillsboro Blvd and the Cove Shopping Center are getting facelifts, all because of the CRA tax increment money.

Now the city wants to know what “we” would like to do at the Main Beach Parking lot.

The attendees at the CRA meeting Monday were asked what they would like to see happen to the lot, the choices were not solicited from the audience but pre selected and presented as:

No Change – Beautification/Modernization Only

Beachfront Park and Integrated Parking

Low Rise Structured Parking

with Community Facilities

with Governmental Facilities

with Commercial Facilities

Amphitheatre

Other
There was no hint of this being a topic at the meeting but obviously some in the audience knew ahead of time and were prepared to advocate for the parking garage etc. The usual suspects popped up and wanted the city to go into debt for millions on a facility that has not been studied as to need; debt that may well have to be paid for years after the CRA sunsets.

This would have been the only public meeting if Bill Ganz had not insisted on more meetings. Deerfield Beach has a long history of ignoring the wishes of the residents. And here we go again.

From the list I deduce that the commission is looking to go to the public for a referendum to eliminate the restrictions in the charter for the Main Beach Parking Lot which prevents any commercial businesses on the lot. That is the only way they could possibly entertain some of the items proposed.

Make sure to keep an eye out for the next meetings on this and get involved, make sure the commission has the facts and shares them, about the money and the need before any project is approved. And, make sure that your voice is heard as loudly as those who will benefit from whatever is done to the lot.

*What is a CRA? Very simply cities are allowed to designate a defined area which is blighted and needs redevelopment. The plans for the area are governed by the Community Redevelopment Agency, which is a group appointed by the city commission, in our case they are the commissioners acting as the agency.

The year the CRA was initiated is the base tax year. The money that is now in the CRA fund came from money that the CRA improvements generated, Tax Increment Funds, which in other parts of the city go to the county as tax money. For example take a building that generated $100 in county taxes in the base year, from that year on, everything over $100 that the building generates goes into the CRA fund, the original $100 still goes to the county.

Because real estate was zooming before the crash, a lot of dollars went into the fund. This is money the city would have had to send to the county if they didn’t have a CRA. The money has strings on it; it can only be used in certain ways, and only in the defined area.

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