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Port Defers Decision on Peanut Island Maintenance Agreement

By Michele Dargan, Special for the Civic Association — The Port of Palm Beach Commissioners Thursday deferred a vote on a temporary agreement that would allow Palm Beach County to take over maintenance of the Peanut Island Coast Guard facilities, which are owned by the port.

The vote was deferred to December’s meeting after Executive Director Manuel Almira informed the commission that there are outstanding code enforcement violations.

“I’m sufficiently confident that we will be able to work this out and confident that we can bring this back next month,” Mr. Almira said.

The facilities, including the Coast Guard Station, Kennedy Bunker and a boathouse, are in disrepair and have been closed to the public. Most of the 80-acre Peanut Island is a county park and is maintained by the county’s Parks Department.

Both the port and the county want to renovate the facilities and reopen it to the public. But in order to do so, they need to secure grant money. Both entities are hoping that once they ink the temporary agreement, it will lead to a longer-term agreement, which would allow the county to secure funding from a variety of grants.

Karen Marcus, a Civic Association consultant and former county commissioner, urged the commissioners to consider the agreement this month, because she is confident the code issues will be worked out.

“This is simply mowing the grass and making sure it looks good for a minimal amount so that we can move in the next direction,” she said. “The buildings are closed. Nobody has public access.”

According to the agreement, the port will pay the county $5,500 a year to cover the maintenance and the port maintains jurisdiction over the facilities, including operating and maintaining all security cameras affixed to any structure. The agreement can be terminated by either party with 30 days-notice.

Once the port commission approves the agreement, the next step is to bring it before the Board of County Commissioners for final approval.

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