New Commission Starts Off With Hot Topic Discussions

590

By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor

In what is typically a ceremonial meeting, the city’s organizational meeting quickly became the place for newly elected commissioners to begin addressing campaign promises.

After taking the oath of office, the traditional 30 minute meeting that goes over the city’s rules and meeting schedule turned to discussion on several key issues.

Commissioner Jim Chard brought up several of the topics including the Congress Avenue Task Force report and the city’s proliferation of sober homes. Chard was involved in the task force for the Congress Avenue redevelopment plan, which was adopted by the commission. Since then, he said there has been lag time with not much of the plan being implemented or acted upon by the city.

“There were a lot of people who spent time on it and there are excellent ideas,” he said. “There was a lot of excitement, energy and imagination around the Congress Avenue Task Force.”

Mayor Cary Glickstein said he has seen a measurable outcome from the plan and that is the creation of jobs that has followed several developments that are coming to the corridor like Kaufman and Lynn.

The hot button on the campaign trail of course dealt with what the city is doing to address the sober homes and overdoses that are growing in the city.

“This is such an important issue to the city,” Chard said. “We should prioritize it as arguably the No. 1 priority in the city.”

City officials have been diligently working on ways to legally address the city’s sober homes. City attorney said he estimates having some new city ordinances up for discussion this summer.

Commissioner Shirley Johnson said her focus is on completing the Atlantic Avenue corridor, specifically West Atlantic Ave.

“This is something the community has been working on since the commencement of the CRA,” she said.

Commissioners also discussed several other topics including the beach master plan and iPic. When it comes to beach renovations, residents that have plaques on benches have expressed concerns about will happen to their benches. The redevelopment plan involves creating a standardized look.

“We are standardizing everything so we don’t end up with the hodgepodge that we have,” Glickstein said. “We can’t sell pieces of the beach. The beach is for everybody.”

Commissioners agreed to consider relocating the plaques to the new benches or returning the plaques and offering to engrave a brick by the flagpole.

When it comes to the iPic project, which is slated to add a movie theater, offices and shops to the former library and chamber location, there is still debate.

Commissioner Mitch Katz said he is concerned about a deal the CRA agreed to with the developer for the parking garage totaling $400,000.

“I would like to know why would we give that amount, a $400,000 concession at the 13th hour,” Katz said.

He said the developers never applied for the incentive and wanted to find out if the deal agreed upon is valid. Commissioner Shelly Petrolia agreed that she wanted to know if the agency could approve the deal.

City attorney Lohman said he look into the deal and said he also took offense to allegations made by iPic that the city is delaying the project. He said the city is still working to sort out what the developer agreed to when it comes to parking and parking management.

“There was no foot dragging by the city attorney’s office,” he said. “The delay is on them. Their client agreed to those terms. They need to convince their client those are the terms they agreed to.”

Glickstein said he is eager to see the iPic open, but not at the expense of the operational issues that were agreed to.

“Those were deal points,” he said. “I don’t want to hear my phone blowing up on Saturday morning because Friday night there was a fiasco because of iPic.”