• NEW VIDEO: The Everglades Used to Have a Heartbeat – It Doesn’t Anymore
  • This Week in Palm Beach - March 24, 2017
  • Undergrounding Utilities Task Force Chairman Updates Civic Association Directors
  • Former Palm Beach Police Chief Warns of Possible Threats to the Island with the President in Residence
  • Video: Palm Beach Presidential Traffic Jam at Mar-a-Lago

 

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NEW VIDEO: The Everglades Used to Have a Heartbeat – It Doesn’t Anymore
By: R. Michael Brown, Civic Association Communication Director -- Directors and members of the Civic Association took an airboat tour of the Everglades with their corporate partner The Everglades Foundation. The purpose - learn about restoration of this national treasure.
This Week in Palm Beach - March 24, 2017
Get the news that is important to you in This Week in Palm Beach. March 24, 2017 edition. Click Here To See Original Full E-Newsletter
Undergrounding Utilities Task Force Chairman Updates Civic Association Directors
By Michele Dargan, Special for the Civic Association -- The projected construction costs of burying the town’s utility lines have gone up close to 10 percent from the $90 million project approved in a town referendum last year, said Jeffrey Smith, chairman of the town’s Undergrounding Utility Task Force.
Former Palm Beach Police Chief Warns of Possible Threats to the Island with the President in Residence
By: Michele Dargan, Special for the Civic Association -- The use of Mar-A-Lago as President Donald Trump’s Southern White House dramatically increases the attraction of Palm Beach for ideological motivated terrorists, security expert Michael Reiter said Thursday.
Video: Palm Beach Presidential Traffic Jam at Mar-a-Lago
The presidential roadblock is setup at Mar-a-Lago. Wondering what the traffic looks like? See the video - it's ugly!
This Week in Palm Beach - March 17, 2017
Get the news that is important to you in This Week in Palm Beach. March 17, 2017 edition. Click Here To See Original Full E-Newsletter
Town Residence ID Cards Will NOT Allow Access Thru Mar-a-Lago Security Zone
The Civic Association received a memo today from the Town of Palm Beach Police about Town Residence ID Cards. The cards are used to gain access back on the island after a hurricane, NOT to gain access to, or through, Mar-a-Lago's Security Zone during Presidential visits.  See below:
US Coast Guard Announces Temporary Bridge Opening Schedule for the Flagler (North) Bridge *UPDATE*
Please be advised the Flagler Memorial Bridge will have a revised opening schedule for marine traffic for the Palm Beach International Boat Show.
Top Stories
NEW VIDEO: The Everglades Used to Have a Heartbeat – It Doesn’t Anymore
Posted by R. Michael Brown
Published: Wednesday, 29 March 2017 09:26

By: R. Michael Brown, Civic Association Communication Director -- Directors and members of the Civic Association took an airboat tour of the Everglades with their corporate partner The Everglades Foundation. The purpose - learn about restoration of this national treasure.

Hosts were Deborah Johnson, vice president of development, and Dr. Kristie Wendelberger, outdoor education and outreach coordinator.

On the bus ride from the Civic Association to the Everglades airboat docks, Dr. Wendelberger and Mrs. Johnson explained how the development of Florida for agriculture and a booming population caused major damage to the Everglades known as the “River of Grass.”

The Everglades Used to Have a Heartbeat - It Doesn't Anymore from Palm Beach Civic Association on Vimeo [3:44]

“The Everglades was once looked upon as a worthless swamp,” said Dr. Wendelberger. “It stood in the way of prosperity and opportunity in Florida, a wasteland destined to be drained, ditched, and diverted for farming and the housing of the earliest settlers and tourists.”

The state constructed canals and dyke systems to reroute river, swamp, and lake water for flood control, agriculture, and to supply water to a booming early population. They didn’t realize the damage they were doing for the Floridians of the future.

That damage now has to be undone.  Civic Association directors and members got a chance to see the issues first hand from airboats.  The view was remarkable and the explained solutions large and complex.

EvergladesAreaMap w400As Captain Bob, an airboat pilot for 51 years in the Glades said during the tour, “In the old days the Everglades had a heartbeat. It doesn’t have one today. In the wintertime and springtime, our driest time of year, the Glades would shrink and get shallow.  In the summer the rains would come and the Glades would swell-up and go deep.  Overtime the Everglades would shrink-up, swell-up, shrink-up, swell-up, just like a heart.  Now that man’s come in and rerouted the water, it’s all swelled-up all the time in some areas, shrunk-up in others. Without a heartbeat everything dies.”

Deep water and phosphorus pollution from upstream agriculture, cattle ranches, and inhabitants using septic tanks are killing Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades.

All the effort to straighten rivers and drain swampland created a direct line for the pollution into Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades without the natural cleaning that used to take place before it reached Florida Bay. The system needs to be re-plumbed back toward its natural state.

In 2000, Congress passed the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).  It covers an area from the Kissimmee River Basin just south of Orlando all the way to the end of the peninsula at Florida Bay. The plan covers 18 thousand square miles, an estimated $10 billion budget, and 30 to 50 years to implement.

The goal is to capture fresh water that now flows unused to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, clean it, and redirect it to areas that need it most. To do that will require restoring the Everglades ecosystem so that the natural filtration of pollutants will happen in new manmade structures and the river of grass. Plants in the Everglades clean the pollution from the water.  The once thought worthless swamp is needed more than ever to sustain Florida’s water resources, habitat, and economy.

CERP has 68 projects to make this happen including reservoirs north and south of Lake Okeechobee. A critical project is 60 thousand acres of reservoir(s) south of the lake in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). The total EAA area is 700 thousand acres.  Stakeholders in the project are looking for willing land sellers and buyers so they have the land to construct the water retention reservoirs.  

Florida has legislation in the works to buy the land. The Florida Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee gave unanimous support to Senate Bill 10 [Follow the Status: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2017/0010] and it’s now going through Appropriations before a full Senate vote. The bill proposes the state bond $100 million a year through money voters approved in the 2014 constitutional amendment.

Reservoirs provide a way to clean polluted water and get it flowing south again and to have an overflow storage area so freshwater isn’t wasted by sending it east and west out to sea.

“It’s about finding an amicable solution that we can live harmoniously in a state that thrives on agriculture, thrives on tourism, and the quality and beauty of our natural water and ecosystems,” said Mrs. Johnson.  

“The Everglades Foundation’s is dedicated to protecting and restoring the Everglades. Part of our mission is education - like this Civic Association tour,” said Mrs. Johnson.

“It’s an important cause and it’s about time Palm Beachers paid attention to it and thanks to this synergy between the Civic Association and the Everglades Foundation people are now coming out here,” said Gary Lickle, who is on the board of directors for both organizations. “Now they’re stewards of the message. They’re spreading the word in Palm Beach and helping us.”

Flyover1 w1200Mr. Lickle, who was the pilot of the seaplane for the video shoot of the tour (stay tuned!), pointed to an initiative by the Everglades Foundation named the George Barley Water Prize. Mr. Barley was the co-founder of the foundation.

“It costs $1 to pollute a gallon of water with phosphorous from fertilizers and other sources,” said Mr. Lickle. “And currently $300 to clean that gallon.”

“We’ve offered a $10 million X-Prize for the first person or company that comes up with the ability to extract phosphorous out of the water and turn it into a reusable inert product.  We have no idea if this is possible, however we’ve already gotten, I think it’s now 130 participants, and if we solve this problem, it’s not just a solution for Florida, it’s a solution for the world’s estuaries and the worlds waters, which could be quite exciting, and it started here.”

If the phosphorus sediment in Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades can be cleaned up, blue-green algae blooms, like the disaster than happened last summer in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers and 44 other locations, would be a problem of the past.  Some of the toxic algae reached Palm Beach and Peanut Island.  Waterways and beaches were closed throughout a large area of South Florida as Governor Scott declared a state of emergency for 200 days in 2016.

The tour participants stopped for lunch at one of the 17 remaining tree islands.  “There used to be hundreds but they’ve been flooded out and destroyed by the man-made structures used to ‘fix’ the Everglades,” said Dr. Wendelberger.  

Several on the tour noticed that they didn’t see any alligators or many birds. “There’s no more big animals living on this side of the road today because there’s too much water in the Everglades in this part,” said Capt. Bob.  “You get on the other side and it’s dry. And that’s where we need some water right now.  We used to have deer, alligators hatching, lots of birdlife. Not anymore.”

“The Everglades Foundation all started as a project to clean up Florida Bay, save the back country fishing, along with all the birds and the flora, fauna and everything else out in the Everglades,” said Mr. Lickle. “But now, and more importantly, it’s our fresh drinking water for 8 million people.”

The Civic Association and Everglades Foundation are both dedicated to protecting and improving Palm Beach and Florida. On this tour, Civic Association members saw the challenges ahead and are taking action so the work will continue to stop the deadly algae in summer, recurring droughts in winter without adequate water storage backup, and restore the Everglades.

At the end of the tour, Capt. Bob summed up the sentiments of the group, “Hopefully we can get this thing back to the natural flow so we can get that heartbeat going in the Glades again. That will fix the water problems for my grandchildren and for all the folks of Florida.”

Photos by: R. Michael Brown and Alex Dreyfoos

2017 Everglades Tour March 8, 2017

Civic Association & Everglades Foundation Education Tour

Top Stories
This Week in Palm Beach - March 24, 2017
Posted by Stephan Nilson
Published: Thursday, 23 March 2017 16:56

Get the news that is important to you in This Week in Palm Beach. March 24, 2017 edition.

Click Here To See Original Full E-Newsletter

billionaires 600wTo subscribe to This Week in Palm Beach and receive it in your inbox, CLICK HERE

 

 

 

Top Stories
Undergrounding Utilities Task Force Chairman Updates Civic Association Directors
Posted by R. Michael Brown
Published: Thursday, 23 March 2017 11:23

By Michele Dargan, Special for the Civic Association -- The projected construction costs of burying the town’s utility lines have gone up close to 10 percent from the $90 million project approved in a town referendum last year, said Jeffrey Smith, chairman of the town’s Undergrounding Utility Task Force.

Mr. Smith gave a short update to the Palm Beach Civic Association’s directors during a luncheon meeting Thursday at the Sailfish Club.

Photo: Jeff Smith, Underground Utilities Task Force Chairman

“Jeff is a longtime resident of Palm Beach and a highly respected architect in the community,” said Bob Wright, chairman and CEO of the Civic Association.

At the February meeting of the task force, the town’s engineers presented a draft version of an updated opinion, putting construction costs at $98 million, which includes contingencies and inflation, Mr. Smith said.

“The engineers are still working with FPL, AT&T and Comcast to reduce the costs of the project,” he said.

The task force members received a draft version of the master plan for the town-wide undergrounding of utilities and the 174-page document is available for viewing on the town’s website townofpalmbeach.com.

The master plan calls for 15 phases over an 8-year period, Mr. Smith said. The work will begin at the north and south ends of the town and will reach the center of town by 2024, he said.

“Because the project is over budget, the task force has suggested doing a peer review of the engineers’ work to validate their approach as well as the probable cost of construction,” Mr. Smith said.

Mr. Smith thanked the Civic Association for offering to partner with the town on the expense of the peer review up to a maximum of $50,000.

The Town Council voted Tuesday to partner with the Civic Association and to execute a request for proposal from engineering firms of national recognition to provide a peer review. The peer review will include analyzing Kimley Horn’s approach, the master plan, scheduling, sequencing, phasing and the probable cost of construction.

“We also want them to identify areas of potential risk in the project,” Mr. Smith said.

The work is scheduled to begin on June 15, but there are hurdles to overcome before that can happen, he said. Two lawsuits were filed that challenge the language on the ballot referendum.

“The lawsuits have not been heard yet, so the town cannot issue the bonds or get the money to begin the project,” he said. “These lawsuits don’t even have court dates yet. For the undergrounding to stay on schedule, the town will have to look at interim or bridge financing to begin the project. This could be a bank loan or a line of credit that could be repaid after the bonds are issued.”

To keep the project on schedule, the engineers will need to begin their design work for phase two north and phase two south by May 1. Since that also was going to be paid for by the bonds, alternate financing will need to be obtained to keep the engineers on schedule, Mr. Smith said.

The task force will receive a revised opinion of probable costs at its April meeting and also will review financing options at that time. The goal is to make a final recommendation at that meeting in order to get on the Town Council’s April agenda, he said.

 Photo: Capehart Photography

Directors Spring Luncheon March 16, 2017

Top Stories
Former Palm Beach Police Chief Warns of Possible Threats to the Island with the President in Residence
Posted by R. Michael Brown
Published: Tuesday, 21 March 2017 13:08

By: Michele Dargan, Special for the Civic Association -- The use of Mar-A-Lago as President Donald Trump’s Southern White House dramatically increases the attraction of Palm Beach for ideological motivated terrorists, security expert Michael Reiter said Thursday.

MichaelReiter w300 72dpi“Palm Beach is representative of what terrorists dislike most about our country and culture,” he said.

Image: Michael Reiter, Civic Association Director

The high concentration of affluence, combined with the newsworthiness of the residents, already had thrust Palm Beach onto terrorists’ radar even before President Trump’s election. But his presence on the island as president significantly increases the appeal to terrorists, Mr. Reiter said.

Mr. Reiter, a former Palm Beach Police Chief, spoke to more than 50 directors of the Palm Beach Civic Association during a luncheon meeting at the Sailfish Club.

Civic Association Chairman and CEO Bob Wright introduced Mr. Reiter, president of the Palm Beach-based Michael Reiter and Associates, a security, crisis management, and investigation firm.

A Civic Association director, Mr. Reiter retired as the eighth chief of police in Palm Beach with more than 30 years of law enforcement experience.

Mr. Reiter is the recipient of the Palm Beach Civic Association’s Raymond J. Kunkel Award, the Town of Palm Beach Employee of the Year Award, the Worth Avenue Association’s Above and Beyond Award, and the Palm Beach Atlantic University Distinguished Alumni Award.

“He’s an expert in crisis management and in the prevention and investigation of crimes against high net worth individuals,” Mr. Wright said.

023 sailfish17Mr. Reiter told the group that he rarely speaks publicly about specific security risks because “to broadcast your security risks and vulnerabilities causes you to increase your vulnerabilities.

“We’re four square miles and 8,600 people,” he said. “No other community with a similar description has the security threats that we have.”

Palm Beach has always been on the radar for conventional criminals - such as burglars, thieves, and robbers - because of the concentration of high net worth individuals combined with businesses who cater to affluent individuals, he said.

“One purse off Worth Avenue equals 50 at the Palm Beach Outlet Mall and that’s a reality,” Mr. Reiter said. “The reason we don’t have much traditional crime is because we have a very informed community who believes in ‘if you see something, say something,’ we have a very capable police department, and we have a geographical setting that doesn’t lend itself to escape. If you have an incident in the north end of the island on a busy traffic day, it’s going to be very difficult for that person to get off the island. The same problems we have on a daily basis with traffic actually reduces our risk level for traditional criminals. Terrorists, on the other hand, do not care about that.

“We are widely recognized as being highly symbolic of wealth and therefore of the achievement of the traditional American Dream,” Mr. Reiter continued. “That motivates terrorists, unfortunately.”

Mr. Reiter said he monitors monthly magazines, produced by terrorist organizations.

Some part-time Palm Beach residents have been specifically identified in these magazines as possible targets, he said.

“Most every successful person in New York, the East Coast, and around the country ends up here and has for over 100 years,” he said. “Therefore, as a community, we are highly symbolic and newsworthy and we register with terrorists … To realize your risks is the first step to mitigating them.”

The numbers of visitors staying in Palm Beach hotels are up, Mr. Reiter said, and can be attributed, in part, to the enormous amount of free publicity the island is getting because of the president.

ReportersBinghamIsland“Almost every news magazine show has done something on Palm Beach,” he said. “They send reporters down here to cover Mar-a-Lago and have to do something in their spare time and then they run a story. That attracts people to Palm Beach because we have a magnificent place to live and work.  People see that and want to be a part of that. That includes criminals. It, unfortunately, includes terrorists.”

Residents are operating under a false sense of security if they think Palm Beach is safer when the president is in town because of the increase in law enforcement and Secret Service personnel. The extra personnel are designated specifically to protect the president and are instructed to ignore other potential problems as those may be diversions.  

Mr. Reiter urged attendees to support budget requests from the Palm Beach Police Department.

“Their resources are spread extremely thin,” he said. “They may need additional police officers, may need a full-time coordinator to deal with presidential issues, and they may need additional police officers and will need additional equipment and training.”

ProtestorsMar a Lago2Mr. Reiter warned that there are going to be large protests in the future and recommended that people avoid areas of the protests. Although they have been peaceful so far, violent protests – that have already happened in other parts of the country – can happen here, he said.

In addition, Mr. Reiter advised that everyone should be able to recognize a motorcade and avoid it.

“If you see traffic completely stopped, the best thing you can do is turn around,” he said.

Mr. Reiter offered safety tips while traveling to nearby towns or to other states and countries.

  • Realize that you are easily identified as a target by criminals from the car you drive to the clothes and jewelry that you wear.
  • Avoid looking like a wealthy person when you go off the island to nearby neighborhoods like Clematis Street, CityPlace, and other areas. Don’t wear flashy jewelry or carry expensive handbags and be alert to your surroundings.
  • Do not carry expensive luggage or wear expensive jewelry on commercial aircraft.
  • FaradayBag w250Carry your passport inside a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) blocking sleeve or carry cell phones, credit cards and passports in a Faraday bag, which blocks RFID.   Image at right: Faraday Bags with metal shielding cloth
  • Never throw away a boarding pass at the airport and always shred them as they include a confirmation number that can allow anyone to change the rest of your itinerary. In addition, the bar code contains personal data.
  • DataIsolatorDo not charge your laptop or cell phone at a free charging station unless you have a data isolator because there are people skimming the data. Image at left: Data Isolator for charging devices. Click here for more information (Amazon.com)
  • You must use different passwords for everything. If you have one password and someone gets hold of it, all of your accounts are compromised.
  • Do not flag down cabs on the street in foreign countries. Taxi drivers in many parts of the world work with express kidnappers, who drive you to an ATM and make you empty out your bank account.
  • If you see something, say something, especially right here in your own community. If you see something suspicious on your street, call it in.

“It shouldn’t produce fear,” Mr. Reiter said. “It should cause you to be more careful and to realize that the kinds of feelings that we had previously in Palm Beach of ‘I don’t have to lock my car or I can leave my front door unlocked,’ that sort of thinking has to change.”

Photos: Capehart Photography

Directors Spring Luncheon March 16, 2017

Top Stories
Video: Palm Beach Presidential Traffic Jam at Mar-a-Lago
Posted by R. Michael Brown
Published: Friday, 17 March 2017 13:55

The presidential roadblock is setup at Mar-a-Lago. Wondering what the traffic looks like? See the video - it's ugly!

The president is expected to be here through Sunday evening this week.  Avoid the Mar-a-Lago area and Southern Blvd. Bridge!  To see what the police are doing during presidential visits, see our interview below of Town of Palm Beach Publc Safety Director Blouin.

PresidentialVisitTrafficVideo w600Video shot by the Civic Association [1:55] CLICK BELOW TO SEE THE VIDEO

PALM BEACH PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR SPEAKS TO ISSUES SURROUNDING PRESIDENTIAL VISITS

By Michele Dargan, special for Civic Association News. Director of Public Safety Kirk Blouin wants residents to know that his department – along with other federal, state and local agencies – are working diligently to solve traffic gridlock and other issues arising out of President Donald Trump’s visits to Palm Beach.

Read More (Civic Association News)

 

Bridge Alert
This Week in Palm Beach - March 17, 2017
Posted by Stephan Nilson
Published: Friday, 17 March 2017 10:29

Get the news that is important to you in This Week in Palm Beach. March 17, 2017 edition.

Click Here To See Original Full E-Newsletter

Flyover w600To subscribe to This Week in Palm Beach and receive it in your inbox, CLICK HERE

 

 

Top Stories
Town Residence ID Cards Will NOT Allow Access Thru Mar-a-Lago Security Zone
Posted by R. Michael Brown
Published: Thursday, 16 March 2017 15:51

The Civic Association received a memo today from the Town of Palm Beach Police about Town Residence ID Cards. The cards are used to gain access back on the island after a hurricane, NOT to gain access to, or through, Mar-a-Lago's Security Zone during Presidential visits.  See below:

TOWN OF PALM BEACH POLICE -- The Palm Beach Police Department strongly encourages residents without a state issued identification card to obtain a Town of Palm Beach Resident Identification Card.  For employees that work on the island, we ask that you obtain a Town of Palm Beach Voluntary Identification Card.  These cards are beneficial in getting back onto the island after a hurricane.  

The identification cards will NOT allow access through the security check points around Mar-a-Lago associated with Presidential visits.  ONLY residents living within the security zone will have access.      
        
The Out of State Town of Palm Beach Resident Identification Card Program is designed to assist our Out of State residents/owners/lease holders to gain access to the Island after a storm event. This is NOT a Resident Card. You must have a government issued photo identification card. Applications can be obtained online at www.palmbeachpolice.com.  Look for the How Do I button.  Then look for question #6 on the list.  There you will find the forms to download and fill out.  The form needs to be completed before bringing it to the police department's Crime Scene/Evidence Unit located in the lobby of police headquarters.

The Town of Palm Beach Voluntary Identification Card Program was instituted in response to a demand from the community for help in verifying the identity of prospective employees. This form is also available online at www.palmbeachpolice.com.  Look for the How Do I button and then look for question #7.  When applying for a voluntary I.D. card, bring the completed notarized application form signed by your employer and your driver’s license, passport or State I.D.

• Renewal of your Voluntary I.D. card must be done in person with the completed notarized application and $15.00 fee by cash or check.
• The production hours are Mon - Fri 10:00AM - 2:00PM at the Palm Beach Police Dept., 345 S. County Road, Palm Beach, FL 33480. Phone: 561-838-5454.
• All Voluntary I.D. cards are valid for two years.

Top Stories
US Coast Guard Announces Temporary Bridge Opening Schedule for the Flagler (North) Bridge *UPDATE*
Posted by Stephan Nilson
Published: Tuesday, 14 March 2017 10:29

Please be advised the Flagler Memorial Bridge will have a revised opening schedule for marine traffic for the Palm Beach International Boat Show.

The Flagler Memorial Bridge will open for marine traffic twice an hour at 15 minutes past the hour and 45 minutes past the hour between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. from Wednesday, March 15, to Wednesday, March 22, and from Monday, March 27, to Tuesday, March 28. These openings for incoming and outgoing boats will last approximately 10 minutes. During presidential visits, there will be one opening an hour between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at 15 minutes past the hour.

The Palm Beach International Boat Show will occur from March 23-26.

The Flagler Memorial Bridge Replacement Project includes replacing the existing bascule (draw) bridge with a new bascule bridge connecting the Town of Palm Beach and the City of West Palm Beach over the Lake Worth Lagoon and the Intracoastal Waterway (ICWW). The Flagler Drive overpass is being replaced with an “at-grade” intersection. New lighting, pedestrian features, traffic signals, drainage, and landscaping are also included. Active construction began on Sept. 10, 2012, and will last until spring 2017. The estimated construction cost is $106 million.

For more information about the Flagler Memorial Bridge Replacement Project, call Public Information Officer Angel Gardner at (561) 702-9096 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Information can also be found on the project website:www.flaglerbridge.com

Flagler Bridge Traffic Alert

Town Residence ID Cards Will NOT Allow Access Thru Mar-a-Lago Security Zone

The Civic Association received a memo today from the Town of Palm Beach Police about Town Residence ID Cards. The cards are used to gain access back on the island after a hurricane, NOT to gain access to, or through, Mar-a-Lago's Security Zone during Presidential visits.  See below:

Read more ...

Palm Beach Public Safety Director Speaks to Issues Surrounding Presidential Visits

By Michele Dargan, special for Civic Association News. Director of Public Safety Kirk Blouin wants residents to know that his department – along with other federal, state and local agencies – are working diligently to solve traffic gridlock and other issues arising out of President Donald Trump’s visits to Palm Beach

Read more ...


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