Brightline’s Boca train station and the fate of the new public golf course took up most of the mayor’s town hall. Nearly two hours worth.
Mayor Scott Singer’s regular reach-out drew a full house in the Spanish River Library meeting room Wednesday night.
Residents wanted to know why Brightline/Virgin Trains has only honed in on one site: Northwest Second Avenue for the station and a 450-space garage in front of the Downtown Library.
Library Commons residents said they met with the company and came away with more questions than answers. They want the city, not the train company, to take the lead in negotiations.
Those residents and Friends of the Boca Raton Library want the garage moved. They particularly cited the old library, now used as a city permitting office.
“The biggest challenge for us is space constraints downtown,” Singer said about alternate sites the city already owns.
Brightline’s plans to build a hotel, apartments and retail may be off the table, but future intentions worried residents.
So did a pedestrian bridge over the tracks. “It’s not off the table. It’s just no longer a requirement for them to come here,” Singer said. “We don’t have a proposal so we’re still unclear about a right of first refusal or an option” for commercial use.
Staff is dealing with the company until they present again before city council, he added. “We’ll knew more in a few weeks.”
Singer went through a history of the planned public golf course in Boca Teeca. But residents just want Boca National Golf Course built. They asked council to resolve differences with the Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District. “We have a joint meeting on Nov. 12 and hope we can flesh this out,” Singer said.
Here’s other questions and Singer’s answers:
Q: Can more traffic lights be synchronized?
A: We have 1,450 signals. We’ve added staff and we’re looking at new technology. But the county controls some of the roads, particularly at I-95.
Q: What’s with the influx of traffic?
A: Most come from outside the city. People from out west coming east. So, this takes working with the county and other municipalities.
Q: Why can’t we underground more utilities?
A: They’re prone to flooding, so that’s not a panacea and it’s extremely expensive.
Q: We had 3 inches of rain in an hour. Can we alert drivers when roads are flooded?
A: We need to identify those areas and see if we can incorporate them into the alerts.
Q: What were lessons learned from what turned out to be a false alarm not a shooter at the mall?
A: The tremendous first-responder response from Boca PD and five other city’s police. We can see how quickly panic spreads.
Q: Why wasn’t more information put out quicker?
A: Police and fire have to go through their protocols. We may not get perfect information right away. We have to temper our expectations for an all clear.
By Marci Shatzman