Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sell the Hillsboro Boulevard Fire Station Property? NO WAY!

To paraphrase Hamlet: To sell or not to sell that is the question.

The answer is simple, NOT! 

This should never have come up, and the reason it did was to lamely justify closing the current fire station and building a new one as part of a municipal complex which would be part of the envisioned revitalized “downtown” Pioneer Grove. 

Do you see the problem here?  This is not a single issue. 

Close the fire station – is one issue. 

Build a new fire station - is a different issue.

Whether to build a municipal complex could be the same or different issue depending on the level of chutzpa of the parties involved. 

Sell the current fire station and land – a completely separate issue NOT dependent on the others. 

The fire station is on a prime corner property.  Developers are certainly salivating over the chance to turn it into a commercial cash cow.  Jim Rosemurgy could hardly contain his eagerness, at a recent commission meeting, when he was talking about buying the property to put a gas station and convenience store on it.  He didn’t see the horrified faces on the audience when he described his envisioned eye-sore. 
Some saner voices were heard at the last commission meeting, voices from the Florida International University Metropolitan Center regarding their preliminary findings of the City Economic Development Strategy Analysis. 

The picture they presented for Deerfield Beach was rosy, they pointed out the wonderful array of businesses and industry we already have, unlike other nearby towns. 

They pointed out how valuable the appearance of our “gateway” roads was and how the improvements to the beach and Hillsboro Boulevard will only enhance the desire of businesses to make Deerfield Beach their home.

They used the word “gateway”. 

It is very important to make a good first impression.  Redoing Hillsboro Boulevard from Federal Highway to the beach was huge!  Plans to improve the road from Dixie to Federal are underway.

With this in mind, it only makes sense that we would keep our only sliver of property on the four corners of Hillsboro and Federal and make it as attractive as possible.  Picture four corners of gas stations and drug stores.  Is this the “gateway” the city wants to present to tourists and possible businesses?

We, as a city, own this important property.  What we do with it will determine what the gateway to our beach looks like from now on.  Do not allow the land use change.

 A new fire station, if needed, must not be contingent on the sale of valuable city property.  Go ahead, if absolutely needed, build a new station wherever the city determines it is needed.  But do not think that the old station property needs to be sold to make that happen.  I am not convinced we need a new one, and all the talk brings to mind that boys love new toys, not that they need them. 

Selling the fire station, whether or not a new one will be built, will NOT give the city anything but a miniscule drop in the bucket worth of money to put toward the new facilities.  As we well know, in Deerfield Beach, new buildings are not cheap, they are not even expensive, they are massively costly boondoggles (remember the MOC center) and to think that a new fire station, at the least, or an entire municipal complex will come in at budget is magical thinking.

Renovate the old station, or turn it into a municipal center, and keep the PAL program there, we don’t have a center on the east side, or something else that will be attractive and serve the public purpose.  BUT! Don’t sell it; your grandchildren will blame you for your shortsightedness.