Here’s What We Think…

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A Great Affair

The Delray Newspaper would like to congratulate our friends at the Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce on the successful execution of the 55th annual Delray Affair.

Thanks to a hard working staff, dedicated board and scores of volunteers a huge crowd enjoyed three days of glorious weather at an event that has become a regional staple.

This year’s Delray Affair After Dark incorporated arts events at Old School Square and Artist’s Alley that were enjoyed by thousands and a nice tribute to the event’s rich history courtesy of a collaboration with a newly invigorated Delray Beach Historical Society.

The Chamber is an important institution in our community and much more than an “events” organization as evidenced by the recent partnership with Lynn University on an evening MBA program, and the makings of a very effective advocacy committee.

Keep your eye on the Chamber—we expect more innovation in 2017.

Optimism

Several of us from Delray Newspaper had an opportunity to attend a recent Chamber “Chairman’s Club” meeting at 32 East.

The two guest speakers were newly elected Vice Mayor Jim Chard and Deputy Vice Mayor Shirley Johnson.

The two new commissioners seemed to be a big hit with the capacity crowd outlining their experiences on the campaign trail and talking about their goals and objectives.

The takeaway: optimism.

Both commissioners are glass half full people who are positioning themselves as listeners and dealmakers able to strike compromises and determined to get things done.

After a fitful four years of infighting, instability and little in the done box, their tone and demeanor not only got them elected by wide margins but appears to be a winning formula for governance as well.

Look for them to be leaders who make a difference. For Chard and Johnson, it’s a job to do not to have.

Atlantic Crossing settlement

A book could easily be written about the long and tumultuous history of the Atlantic Crossing project.

Suffice it to say, it was prudent for the city to settle the costly lawsuit.

As in most lawsuits, even with those that are settled, there are no winners.

Taxpayers foot a big legal bill, a large donation to Veterans Park was lost when the local property owner frustrated by delays sold the project and city and CRA coffers lose tax and tif funding that can never be recovered. Not to mention the reputational hit Delray Beach took from investors considering the city as a place to do business.

The developers lose as well—time, money, enthusiasm for the project etc.

There has to be a better way—and there is. It’s called leadership. And it has been lacking on this issue and on iPic, Uptown Delray and a whole host of other issues large and small.

Atlantic Crossing was a lost opportunity to collaborate, communicate and cooperate to turn a great piece of real estate—and a tired 70s style functionally obsolete project—into a model placemaking experience. And sadly, this missed opportunity is on the city commission.

Let’s hope a lesson was learned—leadership and working with people is always better than paying high priced out of town attorneys big bucks that would be better directed in a city chock full of needs.

And let’s also hope that the Edwards Companies—the owners of the project –can create a special place in a special town in a great location.

We need the jobs and that part of the avenue is hurting. Here’s hoping it comes to life so our downtown remains vibrant and sustainable.