Harvey Poppel, a Civic Association Director and Chairman of the Palm Beach Civic Association’s Long Range Planning Committee, presented a status report on the committee’s work to the Town Council on Tuesday.
Mr. Poppel explained why the committee was formed, the mission, the summary of the work to date and the avenues that are being explored in order to “achieve the highest quality of life for Palm Beachers.”
The committee started its work a little over a year ago. It has 15 core volunteers with a wealth of expertise in areas of technology, health, finance, environment, development, infrastructure and town government.
Sub-committees include experts in other subjects as well as representatives of the business community.
Mr. Poppel gave a short background on the history of the town’s planning efforts. He pointed to the 2003 10-year strategic plan that involved a massive commitment by the community, involved an outside consultant and took two years. The result: a 41-page document that had little use to the town.
The second piece of planning he referenced is the comprehensive plan, which is state mandated and finished in 2017. It’s a 10-year plan that is used for customary town government activities, such as annual planning, codes, and other materials.
The reason for the Civic Association’s committee is to address the many “transformative and potentially disruptive issues” that the other plans do not include in the areas of technology, health-care, environmental, macro-economic and societal.
The goals of the committee are to identify, define and prioritize these types of issues which may impact Palm Beach over the next 10 to 20 years. The purpose is to help prepare town officials and other stakeholders to develop plans and take actions to deal with these issues.
The committee is not going to produce a long-range plan, Mr. Poppel said.
“What we really want to do is to bring to the attention of the appropriate parties what needs to be done and offer some suggestions on how to do them,” he said.
The five subcommittees are: application of technology to government; financial strategy; emergency preparedness response and recovery, dealing with cybersecurity, terrorism, and severe weather events (all have the common elements of spontaneity and the ability to inflict severe damage on people and assets); future business (formed jointly with the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce); and healthcare.
“We’ve identified 50 major trends that can influence Palm Beach over the next 10 to 20 years and organized them into five categories: society, technology, economy, environment, and politics,” Mr. Poppel said.
A couple of examples of technologies that the Town of Palm Beach will have to consider in the future are autonomous (driverless) vehicles; and drones that will transport packages and people and perform government, corporate, and residential services.
The committee has surveyed town residents regarding the business community and developed preliminary “pathways” generated by the five subcommittees.
The next steps are to continue to work with town management on further development, adoption, and implementation of the pathways, Mr. Poppel said.
Members of the committee will participate in the Town-Business Workshop 9:30 a.m. Jan. 29 in the council chambers. The committee will announce the results of the residential survey of the business community.
“We hope to, present the work of the financial-strategy subcommittee at some future time to Town Council,” Mr. Poppel said. “We are monitoring other potentially transformative issues – sea level rise, water supply, and the subject of 5G implementation in the town as three (additional) specific items. The major thrust of our committee this season is to develop an overall vision and pathways for Palm Beach circa 2035.
We welcome the opportunity to receive comments, suggestions, observations, personal visions or anything else that can provide input to us as we try to distill this vision that we think would be appropriate for our community.”
Councilman Lew Crampton suggested that members of the financial committee have discussion with Town Manager Kirk Blouin and Finance Director Jane Le Clainche before budget discussions begin, so that the committee can present their findings to the council during budget meetings.
Town Council President Danielle Moore thanked the Civic Association for their efforts.